Tag Archives: Australia

Stories from the Harbour Arm #Folkestone

Occasionally I get asked what it is I’m doing. “God knows” is the usually reply. However I have been collecting stories of the soldiers who left from Folkestone in the First World War. Stories such as:

Captain John Macgregor V.C., M.C and Bar. D.C.M.
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles

Born in Cawdor, in Nairnshire Scotland, John Macgregor would have made a worthy thane. His mother still lived at Newlands of Murchang, Cawdor.  Prior to the war John had emigrated to Canada where he worked as a carpenter.

Macgregor was awarded the D.C.M. For an action on the 8th April 1917 during the preliminaries to the Battle of Vimy.

The citation for his Distinguished Conduct Medal (awarded when John was a Sergeant) reads:

116031 Sjt. J. MacGregor, Mounted Rifles. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He single-handed captured an enemy machine gun and shot the crew, thereby undoubtedly saving his company from many casualties.
(Supplement 30204 to The London Gazette 24 July 1917 page 7663)

John was awarded his Military cross for two reconnaissance missions on the 28th December 1917, and for his part in a trench raid on the 12th January 1918.

The Citation for his Military cross reads:

Lt. John Macgregor, D.C.M., Mtd. Rif. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Whilst he was assembling his men prior to a raid, the enemy bombed the trench. He, however, changing his point of attack, led his men over the wire into the enemy’s trench, and successfully dealt with the garrison of the trench and three concrete dug-outs, himself capturing one prisoner. He then withdrew his party and his prisoner successfully to our trenches. Before the raid he, together with a serjeant, had made several skilful and daring reconnaissances along the enemy wire, which materially assisted in the success of the enterprise.
(Supplement 30845 to The London Gazette, 13 August 1918, page 9569.)

The citation for the award of the Victoria Cross:

T./Capt. John MacGregor, M.C., D.C.M., 2nd C.M.R. Bn., 1st Central Ontario Regiment. For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrificing devotion to duty near Cambrai from 29th September to 3rd October 1918. He led his company under intense fire, and when the advance was checked by machine guns, although wounded, pushed on and located the enemy guns. He then ran forward in broad daylight, in face of heavy fire from all directions, and. with rifle and bayonet, single-handed, put the enemy crews out of action, killing four and taking eight prisoners. His prompt action saved many casualties and enabled the advance to continue. After reorganising his command under heavy fire he rendered most useful support to neighbouring troops. When the enemy were showing stubborn resistance, he went along the line regardless of danger, organised the platoons, took command of the leading waves, and continued the advance. Later, after a personal daylight reconnaissance under heavy fire, he established his company in Neuville St. Remy, thereby greatly assisting the advance into Tilloy. Throughout the operations Capt. MacGregor displayed magnificent bravery and heroic leadership.
(The Edinburgh Gazette .10 January 1919, No. 13384 page 200)

The citation for the bar to his Military Cross reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and leadership from 5th to 8th November, 1918, at Quievrain and Quievrechain. Through his initiative the bridges over the Honnelle River were secured. His personal reconnaissances and the information he derived from them were of great use to his commanding officer. His prompt action in seizing the crossings over the river did much -towards the final rout of the enemy.
(Supplement 31680 to the London Gazette, 9 December 1919, page15312)

John Macgregor died in British Columbia on the 9th June 1952.


Private David Adams 4th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. This is not the first time Private Adams had crossed to France but the first and only date on record of him crossing from Folkestone.
Home Service from the 3rd September 1914 to the 27th July 1915.
3rd September 1914. Enlisted 3rd Battalion Royal Scots.
26th September 1914. Posted 14th Battalion Royal Scots.
21st July 1915. Posted 13th Battalion Royal Scots.
France from the 28th July 1915 to the 30th September 1915.
28th July 1915. France -not known from where he sailed.
29th September 1915. Gun Shot Wound left thigh.
30th September 1915. Returns to UK.
Home Service from the 1st October 1915 to the 1st January 1916.
1st October 1915. Depot Royal Scots.
30th November 1915. Posted to 14th Royal Scots.
1st January 1916. 13th Battalion Royal Scots.
France from the 2nd January 1916 to the 10th April 1917.
2nd January 1916. France, not known from where he sailed.

In March 1916 David was in the Hulluch Sector when he was blown up by a High Explosive Shell he is knocked unconscious and suffers from concussion. On a Medical Report dated 24th April 1918 from Glenlomond War Hospital it is stated that this is when his Neurasthenia started.

Home Service from the 11th April 1916 to the 18th April 1917.
11th April 1916 Posted for record purposes to the Royal Scots Depot, David is recovering in the Duchess of Connaught’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Taplow. He stays at the hospital until the 22nd May 1916.

7th August 1916. Posted to 14th Battalion Royal Scots.
1st September 1916 . Transferred to 3rd Reserve Battalion.
20th October 1916. Posted to the Larnarkshire Yeomanry.
2nd December 1916. 10th (Works) Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers.
31st December 1916. Transferred to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
It is known from his Pension Records that David was a patient at the 2nd Scottish General Hospital. Craigleith, Edinburgh from the 9th January until the 24th February 1917.
19th April 1917. Posted to the 10th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
France from the 20th April 1917 to the 14th July 1917. (Pension Medical Record states 19th April.)
20th April 1917. Leaves Folkestone for France.
21st April 1917. Joined 19 Infantry Base Depot.
Home service from 15th July 1917 until the 10th May 1918.
15th July 1917 Taken on Strength Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Base Depot Sterling.
It is known from his Pension Records that David was a patient at Merryflats War Hospital, Glasgow from the 15th July until the 15th August 1917.
27th August 1917. Posted to 4th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
3rd November 1917. Posted to 250 Reserve Company Royal Defence Corps.
From his pensions we know that David was at Glenlomond War Hospital, Kinross in April 1918.
10th May 1918 Discharged as, “No Longer Physically Fit for War Service”.
15th May 1918 Died.

It is not know where David Adams is buried. Hopefully he managed to return to the family home at 12th Nile Street, Greenock.
As well as the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal David received the Silver War Badge (No. 389532). He is commemorated on Broomhill War Memorial.


Private 3290 Charles Ambrose De Leon, Australian Imperial Force marched into the New Zealand Base Depot the following day. He is taken on the strength of 38th Battalion ex 8th Re-enforcements 38th Battalion on the 9th May. Charles was born in New York in 1888, he enlisted at Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in December 1917. Accidentally injured on the 24th July 1918. At the Court of enquiry a witness gave the following statement. Report on No. 3290. Pte De Leon C.A. (Burnt about the face and hands)
“On 24th July last, Pte De Leon was on outpost duty when the company was holding the line in the Hamel sector The enemy was shelling very heavily in the region of his post, and a fragment of one shell hit one phosphorus bomb which was amongst some Mills grenades. The phosphorus bomb burst into flames and Deleon who was standing close to the parapet where it burst was burnt about the face and hands, also his clothing and equipment was burnt. Lieut Baxter were extinguished ordered De Leon to proceed to the Aid Post”
(Sgd) Pte F Binion No. 598.
Charles returned to his unit on the 11th October 1918

Now the question is, “What will I do with the Stories?  the answer is, “God  knows.”



Army Will’s #FWW

This is the Will of John Wallace McKay.  Written in April 1916.

(Australian Archives)

The letter he sent to his sister Margaret about the will is reproduced below.

(Australian Archives)

Margaret lived with their parents at the family home in Edinburgh. Sadly John was popped off on the 14th November 1916. Apart from the few pounds left to his sister. John’s parents, received all of his effects, which consisted of an identity disc, plus his two medals and Death Plaque.

John W McKay is buried in Warlencourt British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

The epitaph on his grave reads “Nobly Fighting, Nobly Fell.”


JW McKay Service Record

CWGC website



Postcard to Mum Down Under From, #Folkestone #FWW #WWI

A dreich morning, it is the only way of describing it. I am cold, wet and miserable standing here by Williams grave. My hands are a ghostly shade of pale. The camera is soaking and I have the shivers. My head is close to the dark place it often haunts. A bad morning and the photo is crap, but the day and I are in paradise compared to William’s last morning ninety-nine years ago today. The morning of the 17th April 1917 was to be William’s last.  An Australian Infantryman he was due to return to France from Folkestone that day.  He had been wounded in action in October 1917. On the 12th April, he had gone A.W.L. from Tattoo for three days. He was to receive 14 days Field Punishment No.2 (F.P.2) and forfeit 17 days pay for this crime. F.P.2  the prisoner was placed in irons or fetters, subjected to hard labour and had to carry out all normal duties. It is during these last few days that William wrote a postcard to his mum.

“Dear Mother The military has sent me over to France to be wilfully murdered as I knew to much for them I gave them the best snye system the world could ever be produced ending up with their ruin writing”

He gave the card to another soldier to send. on the 17th William went to the medical offices at No.3 Rest Camp Earls Avenue Folkestone

Not long after 9 a.m.  on the 17th William went to the medical offices at No.3 Rest Camp, Earls Avenue, Folkestone. Sometime after 9:20 the medical orderly left the room to go into the medical officer’s room next door. The orderly, Lance Corporal Hooke, stated at the inquest “I heard a noise as in a man in a fit. I went back into the room and saw deceased. he was lying down on the bed, his head rather inclined the blankets kicked over part of his face, he was kicking his legs up and throwing his arms about. I saw that he had cut his throat.”IMG_8393

William was given a military funeral at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. His coffin was draped in a Union Jack. The Canadians provided a firing party and played the Last Post, Australian representatives from the Australian Imperial Force in London were in attendance.

William’s parents were informed by letter, that he had committed suicide while temporarily insane and, that they had buried him on the South side of the garrison church.

Source: William Burn Gemmell’s service record.

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 Review of Poppies From the Heart of Strathspey

Now being reprinted
Review: Poppies from the Heart of Strathspey by Peter Anderson (2010),
The published histories of the First World War are plentiful, and for
many it seems that the same old ground has been ploughed again and
again. Some would even question whether there is anything new to
write, but in so doing miss an entire vacuum of knowledge that awaits
exploration – the effect the War had on the local communities who
provided the men to fight. Peter Anderson’s analysis of the men of
Strathspey – an area of Scotland in Morayshire – begins to fill this
The book opens with a scene of the town of Grantown-on-Spey in July
1914, before the cataclysm was to hit. We are introduced to local
shops, dignitaries, and the minor news incidents of the day. It was a
perfectly normal town, disturbed only by a thunder storm that
disrupted the local Scout Camp, until the real storm was to come. The
opening perfectly sets the scene for the frantic activity of August
1914, as troops are mobilized, and shops ready themselves for war.
The approach of the author is to present us with a journal of the war
and beyond (the final entry is, in effect, the 3rd February 1928 with
the funeral of Field Marshal Earl Haig demonstrating how the ripples
of war streamed outwards well beyond 1918). The entries centre on the
men of Strathspey, who saw action in all quarters of the war, and
presents their story. We are given their military details, their date
and place of death, and more often than not local details about their
life at home and that of their families. Interspersed throughout are
photographs of the soldiers, their graves, the houses in the local
area (if standing), memorials, inscriptions, newspaper clippings, and
more. The extent of the research is praiseworthy, and the book itself
(complete with index and bibliography) extends to nearly 300 pages.
In taking this approach, the author risks two criticisms. First, that
the book resembles a litany, where the reader is dulled into
submission with death after death being listed. This is fine for the
wall of a memorial, as the desired effect is to impress on the
observer the vastness of the slaughter, but not acceptable for a
printed book that seeks to tell a story. Second, that the information
is so localized it is only of interest to residents of that particular
community. However, Anderson manages a difficult task extremely well
and avoids both problems. Although we are presented with the
successive deaths of the men of Strathspey, the stories are told from
a human perspective. We get a glimpse into where they lived, worked,
their families, when they enlisted, and the memorials erected after
their deaths. It is such detail and insights that raise the book well
beyond a memorial scroll and grabs the reader’s attention. Secondly,
these men fought in all the major conflicts of the war so this is very
much a history of the entire conflict seen through the focus of the
men and women of one area of Scotland. Moreover, Anderson places the
events that affected Strathspey in the wider historical and social
context. The entries for 1917 open with the death of Harry lauder’s
son (December, 1916), the announced death of Private S/16634 John
Stuart Grant on the 24th April 1917, is part of the offensive at
Arras, and as already mentioned the book envelopes itself with entries
on the outbreak of war and the death of Haig.
This is a book written with a sense of dignity and respect (for both
the soldiers and the reader), and collects together an impressive
amount of research. As well as taking the reader on an emotional
journey, outlining the effects the war had on a single community which
is important in itself as we attempt to write the wider history of the
conflict – it surely acts as a fitting memorial to the men and women
of Strathspey who sacrificed so much.
Stuart Lee

#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)    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41911/41911-h/41911-h.htm#Page_106 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 http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1069708–1-.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