Allenby, a Study in Greatness: The Biography of Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and Felixstowe, G.C.B., G.C.M.G

By Archibald Wavell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
CAVALCADE (September 17-October 31, 1918)

I
MEGIDDO (September 17-22, 1918)

If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?

Jeremiah xii,5

THERE were two curtain-raisers to the great drama on the coastal plain. The first was played by the Arabs under Lawrence, who had concentrated at Azrak, an old outpost of civilization on the edge of the desert. On September 16 and 17 they cut the line between Deraa and Amman, between Deraa and Damascus, and between Deraa and Afule. At the same time the Air Force raided Deraa. The enemy Commander-in-Chief reacted, as was hoped, by sending there a part of his scanty reserves. The other preliminary operation was carried out in the Judæan hills by Chetwode's Twentieth Corps, now reduced to two divisions only. The mission of the Corps was to advance on Nablus in step with the Twentyfirst Corps and to prevent the enemy escaping eastward. Chetwode, who had a practised eye for ground, refused to take the obvious line of advance astride the Nablus road, where the enemy expected attack and had a series of strong positions. He assembled his divisions one at either end of his twenty-five-miles front, leaving in the centre only a thin screen of a cavalry regiment and two pioneer battalions. He intended, when the time came, to make a converging advance from both flanks, thus keeping to the high ground and turning the enemy's defences of the main road. The preliminary operation, carried out on the night of September 17-18, was

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