Category Archives: Palestine

#FWW WWI WW1 Reading List 2017// Wish List Reblog

Three books deleted from the list, none added. An addition to the list of Material


Anthony Milner The Invention of Politics in Colonial Malaya

Charles Townshend, When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914–1921,


Material on Henry Wade

Material on Soldiers embarking from Folkestone

Material on the Singapore Mutiny


Information on Ireland in FWW, just general things.

Information about the sailors on SMS Emden.


Thank you for reading my blog. Likes, comments, Ignores, all appreciated.


Evacuation by Air of Wounded Soldiers reblog from 2014

Medivac, or Medevac, is now common plus, those of my generatio or older well remember the opening sequence of the film MASH and, or at least the TV spin off. For those who are younger I was not going to mention but not only the best films, but we went to see the best bands too. We have all seen scenes of helicopters evacuating wounded soldiers from Afghanistan, medivac has been part and parcel of military operations since the Korean War,…and earlier.
The first recorded evacuation by air, of a wounded british soldier from the frontline happened at Bir el Hassana on the 17 February 1917. A Lance corporal had injured his ankle. the unit had come under fire from Bedouin Arabs. unable to ride a camel and too far from a casualty clearing stations something else had to be devised or the lance corporal would surely die. When everything usual had been thought of and rejected something new had to be thought of. Who thought of the idea is not known. it was the Royal flying Corps, the R.F.C. who came to the rescue. The Lance Corporal would be Medically evacuated by air. The Aircraft to be used was a B.E.2c. Slow, but extremely stable the B.E.2c had been designed by Geoffrey de Haviland-who later designed the Mosquito of WW2 fame. By todays standards the B.E.2C was flimsy, there are one or two still flying although I think they may be replicas. By 1917 they were mostly relegated to second line duties, or to flying at night. they were the best planes available. The Lance Corporal was flown directly from Bir el Hassana to the hospital at El Arish. The very first of a long line of wounded British soldiers to be evacuated by air, from the frontline, had been successfully completed. The next would have to wait until world war two.

So what was it like to fly in a B.E.2c? this is an observer’s account

  1. “The BE2C was a sturdy machine which could be put into a dive, but this had to be
    done with care. There was at that time a craze in design for what was called automatic
    stability which was embodied in the BE2C. If you stalled one of these machines it
    went into a dive from which it recovered automatically and bobbed up like a cork in
    water. All very excellent but it required elbow room to do it; if you made a mistake
    near the ground that was that. This capacity to withstand a dive, or rather a powered
    descent, was however very useful for returning against an adverse wind. The nose
    could be pushed down to give a speed of over 100 miles an hour, but this process, of
    course, brought the aircraft continually nearer to the ground, and after a long flight
    entailed crossing the trench zone very low indeed. Here the partridge on the wing
    enjoyed another sport. Intensive machine-gun and rifle fire at once began, and gave
    the bird the sensation of being at the wrong end of a rifle-range without the usual
    protection, as the bullets zipped through the wings. The only safeguard was the small
    wooden seat on which you were sitting, and the smack of a partly spent bullet could
    occasionally be felt upon it. The instinct of manhood in this disturbing situation was
    carefully to compress treasured possessions within this exiguous area of protection.” (My Life – Oswald Mosley)

Up date on the struggle for an MA in WW1 studies

ok, short update, not going to happen. long update. could not raise the funds, by a very long way. Never mind shoulders back stomach in. Not the end of the world the good news is there is a grant of £10,000. That would do nicely, thank you UK Government. all you have to be is normally resident in England, well I am now. So what is the catch? And under 60 years of age.

I’m 3, yes three days, to old.  (written on 31 January 2016)

Never mind.

Still looking for some of the books. Always looking for books. The books on the reading list I have yet to find are listed below. Bur first my main focus will be on the medical services in the Palestine campaign. a trip to Israel is called for.

General texts
J.M. Bourne, Britain and the First World War (1989)
Cyril Falls, The First World War (1960)Adrian Gregory, A War of Peoples (2014)
Specialist studies
Holger Afflerbach and David Stevenson, (eds.) An Improbable War? The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture Before 1914 (2007)
Stephen Badsey, The British Army in Battle and its Image (2009)
Ian Beckett & Keith Simpson, A Nation in Arms (1985)
Stephen Broadberry and Mark Harrison, The Economics of World War I (2005)
Hugh Cecil and Peter Liddle (eds.), Facing Armageddon (1996)
Roger Chickering and Stig Förster, (eds.), Great War, Total War: Combat and Motivation on the Western Front, 1914–1918 (2000)
Susan R. Grayzel, Women and the First World War (2002).
Adrian Gregory, The Last Great War (2008)
Paul G. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I (London: UCL Press, 1994)
Richard F. Hamilton and Herger H. Herwig, Decisions for War, 1914-1917 (2004)
Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction: Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (2007)
Spencer Jones, From Boer War to World War: Tactical Reform of the British Army, 1902-1914 (2012)
Annika Mombauer, The Origins of the First World War: Diplomatic and Military Documents (2013)
Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson, Command on the Western Front (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992),
David Reynolds, The Long Shadow (2013)
Gary Sheffield, The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (2011)
Peter Simkins, Kitchener’s Army (1988)
Charles Townshend, When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914–1921, (2011)


#Fww WW1 Allenby’s Other Battle, Ok its a blog on Cholera in Egypt and Palestine

The agent of Cholera, Vibro cholerae had been discovered in 1883, (1) it was known that if Cholera took hold among Empire Soldiers in any future conflict in would decimate any army in the field. Victory in a future war depended more on an ability to defeat cholera than it did on numerical, firepower or tactical superiority by British Empire Forces in the Field. In 1915, Dr. Armand Ruffer, C.M.G., President of the Sanitary, Maritime and Quarantine Council of Egypt, Alexandria, sent the the following note to the various British Medical services.

Dr. Ruffer’s Views on Cholera

(Report begins) “The first point is that although, in many epidemics, cholera has been a water-borne disease, yet a severe epidemic may occur without any general infection of the water supply. This was clearly the case in the last epidemic in Alexandria.[107] Attention to the water supply, therefore, may not altogether prevent an epidemic. The second point is that the vibrio of cholera may be present in a virulent condition in people showing no, or very slight symptoms of cholera, e.g. people with slight diarrhœa, etc.

The segregation of actual cases of cholera, therefore, is not likely to be followed by any degree of success, because this measure would not touch carriers or mild cases, unless orders were given to consider as contacts all foreign foes, and all soldiers who have been in contact with them. This is clearly impossible.

There cannot be any reasonable doubt, therefore, that if the Turkish army becomes infected with cholera, the British Army will undoubtedly become infected also.

Undoubtedly inoculation is the cheapest and quickest way of protection of the troops, provided this process confers immunity against cholera.

It is very difficult to estimate accurately the protection given by inoculation against cholera. My impression from reading the literature on the subject is that: (1) The inoculations must be done at least twice. (2) The inoculations, if properly made, are harmless as a rule. (3) The inoculations confer a certain protection against cholera. I may add that I arrived at this opinion before the war, when the French editors, Messrs. Masson & Co., asked me to write the article “Cholera” for the French standard textbook on pathology. My opinion was therefore quite unprejudiced by the present circumstances.

The cholera inoculations were harmless as a rule; that is, they were not always harmless. Savas has[108] described certain cases of fulminating cholera amongst people inoculated during the progress of an epidemic. In my opinion, the people so affected were in the period of incubation when they were inoculated, and the operation gave an extra stimulus, so to speak, to the dormant vibrio. One knows that, experimentally, a small dose of toxin, given immediately after or before the inoculation of the microorganism producing the toxin, renders this microorganism more virulent.

The conclusion to be drawn is that inoculations should be carried out before cholera breaks out.

I am afraid I know of no certain facts to guide me in estimating the length of the period of immunity produced by inoculations. Judging by analogy, I should say that it is certainly not less than six months, that it, almost certainly, lasts for one year, and very probably lasts far longer.

I understand that 90,000 doses of cholera vaccine have been sent from London. I take it that the inoculation material has been standardised and its effects investigated, but, in any case, I consider that a few very carefully performed experiments should be undertaken at once in Egypt, in order to make sure of the exact method of administration to be adopted under present conditions.

Probably, a good deal may be done by the timely exhibition of drugs, such as phenacetin, etc., to mitigate the more or less unpleasant effects of preventive inoculation.

As I am on this subject, may I point out the necessity of establishing at the front a laboratory for the early diagnosis of cholera and of dysentery. Cholera has appeared in the last three wars in which[109] Turkey has been engaged, and therefore the chances of the peninsula of Gallipoli becoming infected are great. The early diagnosis of cases of cholera, especially when slight, is extremely difficult and often can be settled by bacteriological examination only.

There never has been a war without dysentery, and almost surely our troops will be infected in time, if they are not already infected. But whereas in previous wars the treatment of dysentery was not specific, the physician is now in possession of rapid methods of treatment, provided he can tell what kind of dysentery (bacillary or amœbic or mixed) he is dealing with.

This differential diagnosis is a hopeless task unless controlled at every step by microscopical and bacteriological examination.The French are keenly aware of this fact, so much so that they have sent, for that very purpose, three skilled bacteriologists, two of whom are former assistants at the Pasteur Institute, to the Gallipoli Peninsula” (Report ends).(2) Most soldiers were then inoculated.

There was an international agreement on the control of infectious diseases which remained in force through out the Great War and an Isolation Hospital was established at Alexandra.  Mecca was as now the major pilgrimage destination for Muslims and Cholera was thought to be rife both there and in Syria.(3)

Disater though threaten when there was an out brake in Sinai, Mentioned in  Fifty Second (Lowland Division) 1914-1919,(4) An RAMC Captain, RS Taylor, was out looking for the wounded on the 7th August 1916 after the Battle of Romani (4-5 August 1916). He did not find any wounded but he came across a very sick Trooper from the Auckland Mounted Rifles.(5). Taylor had the Trooper isolated and informed 52nd Divisional Head Quarters. All the cases of diarrhea were also isolated just in case they had cholera.  Cholera is a fear inducing disease and volunteers were called for. Four orderlies, most probably from 1/1st Lowland Field Ambulance, Captain Taylor’s unit, and a cook stepped up to the mark. Two officers were sent from the ANZAC Military Bacteriological Laboratory at Alexandria Colonel Martin, and Major Ferguson. They decided to establish local “diarrhoea camps” each with a temporary field laborator. All measures were taken to stop the spread of Cholera to the Suez Canal.(6) Thankfully they were successful. Over the next two weeks 28 cases were diagnosed, 16 were from the 10th ANZAC Mounted Division, 10 of whom from the 10th Light Horse. in all 7 soldiers died.occurred, with 7 deaths,The source of the infection was from a few wells in Katia a former Turkish encampment, and at Hod el Hassania. were the Turks had left some contaminated water barrels. The rapid response to the outbreak and the success of the measures undertaken were a remarkable achievement and saved Egypt from a repeat of the last cholera epidemic in the mid 1890s when thousands died.(5) The outbreak of cholorea was contained and over by the 23rd August 1916. There were two other outbreaks during the campaign, one at Aqaba in 1917, no imperial troops were in the area, and the other outside Tiberius almost entirely in the civilian population, one trooper caught the disease and died.

The victory of cholera has often been understated, but with out it there would have been no victory in Palestine, the death toll from the cholera could have been greater in the middle east than the number of deaths from Spanish Flu. as  a gauge of the success of the anti cholera precautions taken by Allenbys Medical Services, during the time the Desert Mounted Corps were operating in the Esdraelon Valley there were of 11,000 cases of sickness admitted to ambulances. Only one of these cases was cholera.(7)

Notes 1) Page 82 Surgeon, Scientist, Soldier: The Life and Times of Henry Wade                                       2) Page 49 Official History of the Australian medical Services                                                             3)Official History of the Australian medical Services                                                                                      4)P295                                                                                                                                                                 5) The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Australian Army Medical Corps in Egypt, by James W. Barrett and Percival E. Deane                                            6)Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services, 1914–1918,Volume III – Special Problems and Services (1st edition, 1943)Author: Butler, Arthur Graham–1-.PDF, p261                                                  7)History of the Great War Medical services, Vol 3, p482 Naval and Military Press reprint

#FWW #WW1 #Palestine and Cholera, Palestinian Out Takes

Not The Blog on Cholera, still working on that, more a series of one liners that I may or may not use later on. They are all about Palestine.

If you were going to invade Palestine circa 1917, what would be needed? apart from an army that is. A modern army with all the usual trappings, guns, rifles, the odd tank, aircraft, men, hospitals, intelligence, ships. Often forgotten that Royal Navy control of the coast of Sinai and Palestine played an important part in the invasion. So you have all those. Allenby took as well as all the above two books. The King James Bible, not because he was religious, but because the Jews were one of the most successful invaders of Palestine, the route they took is detailed in the Bible, and a book of maps, in Allenby’s case he carried with him The Historical Geography of the Holy Land by George Adam Smith. So for a while I might be doing a spot of biblical studies with the good book in one hand and G.A. Smith’s book in the other.

Recently I have been looking at incidents of cholera in the Sinai and Palestine region, there was no Israel then,  during 1916-1918. Cholera was considered a major threat  to the well being of Allenby’s Army, and a great deal of effort was made into early diagnosis, and also to the prevention of the disease. Allenby used mobile labs to identify outbreaks as early as possible. These were nearly rendered pointless by Lawrence’s and the Arabs capture of Aqaba where there was a minor outbreak.

On 26th September 1918 one soldier in the Egyptian expeditionary Force did contract cholera. This was in the area of Tiberias. Tiberias in September 11918 was rife with cholera. Lindsay Baly, in his book Horseman Pass By, claims that Cholera

“was checked by the herculean effort of German Medical officers with the Turkish Army  who isolated any Turkish unit with a case.”

Not sure how true this was of Turkish troops in Tiberias, but the population was not isolated and cholera was free to spread. There is one out take fro Tiberias. Along the shore of the Sea of Galilee there is a ruined synagogue, which dates back to the founding of the city, 2,000yrs give or take a month or two. Tiberias was founded in 20 A.D.  On one of the columns is carving of a face.

The news seems to be full of atrocities committed by Jihadists from or going to Syria. In 1918 the allies employed Syrian Cavalrymen as auxiliaries, mostly scouts. Here is Artilleryman Zeysolff an Alsatian-Lorrainer and deserter from German forces attached to the Turkish Army.

” All of a sudden, I could make out three cavalrymen coming towards me. i told my friend: “Come on, on the double, the Syrians are coming!. and he answered me, ” I’ve done them no harm, they will do me no harm either. I just want to eat my melon.” I took all I could and, with my melon under my arm, I fled in the opposite way from where the cloud of dust came nearer. The melon fell down but I didn’t take time to pick it up. I was lucky, the Syrians cut off my friend’s head.”          (P32, Palestine and World War I)

If it was not for the Asia-Minor agreement, Syria might have declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire. The Asia-Minor agreement is better known as the Sykes Picot Agreement, france promised Syria was not going to let the Syrians get in the way of an expansion of the French Empire, just as Britain was not going to let the Arabs and their asperations get in the way of painting more of the globe in Imperial Red.

Allenby’s Army was an Imperial Army, it fought the second last great British Imperial campaign, the last was Field Marshal Slim’s campaign in Burma during WWII. The was a major difference between the two campaigns. Both fought with a considerable number of soldiers from the Indian Army.

In the First World War the opposing Turkish Army was Sunni, the same religion as a large number of the Indian soldiers. The Ottoman Sultan was the head of the Sunni branch of the Muslim faith, so there was a higher proportion of deserters.

The similarity of the two campaigns was that neither campaign was ever going to win the war. Ultimate military victory in the Great War was down to Haig, and in the Second, victory over Japan down to Nimitz.

references include

Allenby’s Military Medicine, Eran Dolev, I.B. Tauris Books.

Horseman Pass By, Lindsay Baly, Spellmount Books

Palestine and World War I, edited by Eran Dolev, Yigal Sheffy, and Haim Goren, I.B Tauris books

Merry Christmas

No new blog this week do to events outwith my control, ie Christmas/New Year

I will be researching cholera in Sinai during 1916, the invasion of Palestine in 1917, and the Chinese contribution to the First World War.

Cholera in Sinai because both General Murry and Allenby had to fight two wars, one with men the other with medicine.

The invasion of Palestine, a long running exercise, I now have the two books Allenby used to plan the invasion.

The Chinese contribution, because I promised someone I would. The first First World War site I can remember visiting was Outram Road in Singapore. The Chinese contribution to the First World War is often just ignored, not forgotten, ignored. Sometimes things in front of our eyes are. If you have the time over the holidays visit the Imperial War Museum, it is closed 24th-26 inclusive but open other days. Have a look at the First World War exhibits. You will see something that the Chinese gave to the British Army nearly a hundred years ago. They are still used by the British Army today. I doubt if the vast majority of visitors to the museum know what “they” are, but most visitors will look at “them”.

My better half is working both Christmas and boxing day, so hopefully I will have the time.

Have a Merry, Happy, Peaceful Christmas, and may your God, gods, or source of inspiration, peace and love, be with you.

Faith in the trenches a better God by far #FWW #IWW #WW1

Many years ago while on my road to Damascus I found myself in a Cathedral of Wellingtonia in the high Sierra. A few yards  away from the track and I was awe struck. Here amongst the Giant Redwoods I understood why John Muir found his better God. I could see and touch be inspired. If God lived anywhere it was here. Here in the midst of those truly amazing trees, here on the high Sierra where streams are crystal clear, here where the bright sun shone through the Cathedral of trees canopy it was possible to believe one could hear God’s voice in the breeze. Here then was a reason to turn John Muir from a harsh Scots Calvinist to a saviour of the forest and creator of National Parks.

John Muir died on the 24th December 1914, he lived long enough to see the start of the Great War, a war in which many Scots Calvinists would fight and die. Here are the names of some of them. They are from Stow, a village some 30 or so miles from Dunbar as the crow flies.

John H Anderson, 9th Battalion Royal Scots, died 12th April 1917, buried in Brown’s Copse Cemetery, Roeux.

Alex Bell, K.O.S.B. (Could be anyone of four killed/die in the Great War.)

Chas Chisholm, Gordon Highlanders, died 25th September 1915, commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

James Brydon, 46th Battalion Canadian Infantry, died 10th April 1917, Commemorated on the Vimy Memorial

Robert G Crombie, 5th/6th Cameronians, died 20th May 1917, commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Robert Frier, 1st/4th K.O.S.B, died 18th April 1917. commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial.

Walter Linton, Life Guards? other details unknown

Gordon Lumsden 12th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, died 9th May 1917, Commemorated on the Doiran Memorial.

Robert Johnston 12th Battalion Cameronians, died 15th March 1916, buried in Bethune Town Cemetery.

Walter Nicol 2nd Battalion K.O.S.B. died 30th July 1916, commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Robert Oliver, 11th Battalion Cameronians, died 19th September 1916, Commemorated on the Doiran Memorial.

Alex Rutherford 1st/4th K.O.S.B. died 12th july 1915, Commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

John Stuart attch 4th/5th Bn Black Watch died 28th July 1918, buried Buzancy Military Cemetery

James Waters Unknown

Archibald R Wood 1st/4th K.O.S.B. 29th October 1918 Baghdad North Gate War Cemetery

and Chris Young, Unknown

The above are all on one memorial and all belonged to a Calvinist Church. it is known what they believed before 1914. Keep the Lord’s day holy. Walk to the kirk, only read the bible on Sunday, Do not celebrate Christmas day. Take the king James version literally. They had a disdain of Catholicism, Roman, or Inglish-that is how they would have spelt and pronounced it, and kept the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Church of Scotland at a distance. These men would have regarded the very idea of a truce on Christmas day as Inglish Popery and would have winced at the idea. Their view of life was harsh, after all they had came from the same mold as John Muir. It is also known how difficult it was for some men to keep a faith in God in the trenches. Life with the dead and dying, seeing men wounded and maimed day in day out. they died in different battles at different times. men from their church fought everywhere the Empire did. The Western Front, Dardanelles, Palestine Mesopotamia Most men from their Church survived and returned to Stow where most resumed their pre war lives. all had experienced first hand the horrors of war, a collective hell. Very different from the experiences of John Muir. Indeed a different time as well as a different place. Yet the men who returned had also found a better God, in a decade the old kirk had embraced Christmas, there would be hymns, singing, a happier church. Those men went away to fight for an old world order and returned to seek a better way.

Leave Calvin and the Bible
To the parish o’ Dunbar
Give a blind man back his eyes to find
The brightest o’ the stars
They lead him to the altar of a better God by far
(Brian McNeill.)

It is remarkable where some men find a better God, and others see only death and desolation.