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IN all the wonderful British Saga of exploit by land and sea and air that 'Blackwood's' has collected these last five years with an almost uncanny instinct for what would be read and reread, not only at home, but in countless wellworn copies in trench, swamp, desert, and bunk on every land and sea front, there has been no account of one of the most Elizabethan of all the great and small adventures of the War-the fight with the Arabs against the Turks. Nor is this peculiar, for, so far as I know, no authoritative or first-hand account has yet appeared of that enterprise, save that contained in official despatches, supplemented by a series of articles in a London newspaper, which only supplied the outline and chronology of the campaign, and, of course, Mr Lowell Thomas's lecture and subsequent magazine


article. The latter, however, does not claim a greater personal knowledge of the campaign than that afforded to him, as a special correspondent, by a visit, and he was not in faot with the Arab forces at all, as he is careful to explain in his brilliant lecture, in the last stage of the campaign of which I am about to write.

This stage, though less picturesque than some of Colonel Lawrence's single-handed exploits in 1916-17, was, from a military point of view, the most important of all, and ending, as it did, in a smashing blow at the Turks' life-line of communications, materially contributed to the completeness of Lord Allenby's 18-19th September, 1918, attack.

That I am able, however unworthy my pen, to give an account of what occurred, based on diaries kept at the time, is due to the fact that

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I had less responsibility than any of the British personnel with the Northern Arab Army, and consequently more time for seeing and noting the amazing sequence of events. Going siok at the end of 1917, just at the close of Allenby's first great offensive, I left the land of Canaan, after eight strenuous months' campaigning, for the command of a depot near Cairo. There I spent the first three months of 1918, and, after a period of leave in England, returned to take up a similar post at Ismailia, where my duties, in addition to to commanding a certain unit, included, for reasons as obscure to me then as they are now, the post of acting as Port Admiral. This comic - opera combination of military and maritime duties would in itself have made life delightful at Ismailia; but also there was fishing, bathing, the pursuit of foxes, sometimes with hounds, but more often, I blush to confess, with broken polo-sticks and lances, and two days a week pole, in which no less a person than the redoubtable author of the 'Geebung Polo Club' took part, most appropriately, considering the nature of the game and of the ponies at Ismailia.

All this was pleasant enough, but it was not the War, however much the gentlemen who began, continued, and ended the campaign in Caire, varying it by a short excursion on somebody's staff to Mudros or Tenedos during Gallipoli days, may have thought it was. The brilliant author of 'Eastern

Nights and Flights' has hinted at the queer mentality of these particular embusqués, who made Egypt a byword during the War, and have, unhappily, to some extent given the impression at home that soldiering in the M.E.F. or E.E.F. was a soft job-the true facts being that real soldiering in either force, even in the days after Gallipoli and before the advance, was as hard as it was anywhere, except in France, whilst unreal soldiering was more disgraceful than it was anywhere, even in England.

Having always had a peculiar dread of being confounded with these gentry, I grasped eagerly at the chance, which occurred in July 1918, of being detached for two months from my battalion for service under "Hedjaz operations” in Arabia, and about the middle of August I embarked at Suez on a trawler for Akaba. The trawler, which was one of the regular "transports" between Suez and Akaba, provided neither eating, sleeping, nor cabin accommodation for its passengers on their forty-eight hours' journey. One took one's rations with him, and if one was an officer, one's servant cooked them at the crew's stove. Other ranks managed somehow, and officers and men spread their blankets and kit at night on deck anywhere where there was room to stretch out. On this particular boat, which was about the size of a Thames launch, there were two British officers, about eight British other ranks, and thirty Gurkhas in addition to freight and crew, and it was

the Red Sea in August. Notwithstanding, every one appeared quite cheerful and by no means uncomfortable, though what would have happened had any one been seized with sudden illness, such as appendicitis or dysentery, in view of the fact that the ship was innocent of doctor, medical orderly, or drugs, I do not know. Apart from the pleasurable anticipation of seeing the Arab movement in being, the reason why I was cheerful—and I fancy it applied to the others also was that, for the first time since the war, I was on a ship and a sea where one could show lights all night on deck if one wished, eat when one liked, and sleep when one liked, and where there were no ships' orders, no life-belts to wear, no alarm parades, and practically no danger, since mines and submarines were alike unknown in the Red Sea, or at any rate in that part of it.

The conditions on that trawler epitomised the whole contrast of life as a soldier in Arabia with that prevailing on every other front where there were British troops. Of the elaborate safeguards for the physical, mental, and moral welfare of the British soldier that existed elsewhere, there were few, if any. No chaplain in all the country, only two or three doctors, but two "hospitals," and they in each case comprised in a single tent; no Y.M.C.A. (indeed, we never mentioned the word "Christian" in Arabia, and even our hospital tent and equipment did

not bear the emblem of the Cross, so hateful to Moslems), and no ambulance waggon. But if the few score officers and men-British, Indian, and Egyptian, who were attached to the Arab forces-were without the value of these different aids to this world and the next, they enjoyed the advantage of being without a single General or Staff officer in the ordinary sense of the word, or A.P.M or military policeman, and of never having to do guards or bother about Army, Corps, Division, or Brigade Orders, since, as Bagehot said of the British Constitution, "il n'existe point."

To me, at any rate, with memories of Cape Helles as an infantry soldier, and who had, during the war, more than one experience of service in a unit within the command of the old picture-postcard, red-faced, white-haired type of General, eternally considering ways and means for bringing the modern amateur soldier, officer, and man (whom that particular type of old-army General hated and despised) up or down (according to how you regard it) to the level of Meerut in '95 or Chatham in '90, Arabia was gloriously suggestive of playing truant from school, or breaking every rule at bridge without reproof. Indeed, it was the wonderful schoolboy sense of fighting, as man, the human animal, should fight, untrammelled by the rules and regulations of his seniors who do not fight, in great open spaces, sometimes close to his enemy, but always with the desert

around for thought and breathing space, under leaders whose very names were legendary, almost in far-off England, for skill and daring, which appealed to all of us, officers and men, who did the humbler jobs in Arabia.

Think, O reader, who know only France or Mesopotamia or Salonika, of a force, all of whose men were combatants, all of whose component parts were under fire at some time or other, at whose only base (Akaba) the handful of officers were not only in almost hourly danger owing to the frolicsome habit of the local natives in firing off their rifles at any handy object, which was often a British tent, but who themselves would go off on mysterious and often perilous "stunts" for two or three days at a time into the neighbouring country, which, though nominally friendly to Prince Feisul and his allies, honoured that friendship frequently more in the breach than the observance. Think what a sense of irritation it saves one, when coming back on leave, to find no line of communications or administrative services with supercilious and superior Staff officers, and fat, not over-polite N.C.O.'s, who one knew had never done and would never do an honest day's soldiering under fire if they could help it. Moreover, one felt all the time that the Arab army were true partners in a game of honourable and real adventure. Prince Feisul, for example, was the true type of "Gentleman Adventurer" of old. As for Drake or Raleigh,

so for Prince Feisul or General Nuri Said, or any of the other leaders, capture would certainly have meant death, and probably torture as well, for they were titular and actual rebels. When I read of Prince Feisul being described by his detractors in the European press, at the time of the Paris Conference, as an "adventurer," I thought that, intended in disparagement, no term better fitted the Prince, for no man of that company of delegates adventured more of his personal safety for patriotic reasons from 1914 to 1918 than Prince Feisul. share in smashing empires was taken not in White Houses or War Cabinets, but in the field, where his personal courage, high birth, and boundless sense of duty rallied thousands of Arabs to the cause of smashing the Turkish Empire.


Arrived at Akaba, my servant and I, having donned the kefia, or the kefia, or Arab turban, which all British personnel wore, proceeded in a Ford car for Abu Lisal, the headquarters of the Northern Arab Army. The position at that time, the middle of Angust 1918, in Arabia was broadly this: a Turkish Corps was besieged in Medina, and did not in effect surrender until after the Armistice. From this place northwards the Hedjaz railway was hopelessly smashed by successive Arab raids and demolition parties as far as Maan. There had been during the summer a few isolated Turkish posts on this portion of the line, but the last of them, Mudawara, had

fallen early in August after near Akaba) to attempt to an attack by a detachment of turn the Turkish left flank the Imperial Camel Corps by attacking Ammon, and specially lent to the Arab they never dreamt that it forces by Lord Allenby for would be used, as this narrathe purpose. The fact that tive will show it was subseBritish troops, mounted on quently used, to attack the camels, could suddenly appear Turkish line of communicain Arabia in this fashion, hav- tions yet farther north behind ing marched overland across Ammon; and no doubt they the Sinai Desert and hills, was also knew that the handful an unpleasant surprise for the of British armoured cars, GurTurks, since it indirectly men- khas, French Colonial gunners, aced their Palestine line (facing and Egyptian Camel Corps General Allenby), which ex- with the Arabs at Abu Lisal tended in a continuous trench and Akaba had all to be line from the sea to the Jordan, brought by sea from Egypt and thence by a patrol, strong- to Akaba, and then maintained point, and outpost line to Es over difficult roads, with a Salt and Ammon, in the land transport organisation which, of Moab, which, it will be though as efficient as it could remembered, Lord Allenby be under the circumstances, had failed to take in the fell deplorably short of requirespring of 1918, and where ments in animals, for the reason there was a Turkish Division that they could not be obtained. or more. Beyond Es Salt and But the arrival of an Imperial Ammon eastwards there was Camel Corps Column of seano protection for the Turks soned British troops overland except a few posts on the Hed- from the Suez Canal, whence jaz railway, and the natural the column started, should protection of the desert, which have warned them of the posstretches right away to Meso- sible dangers to their left flank, potamia. The Turks, probably, if such a column was to attack knew accurately enough the Es Salt and Ammon from the strength of the small Arab desert side simultaneously with regular army in and around an attack by Allenby's Cavalry Abu Lisal, which was mainly Corps (always a source of dread engaged in investing Maan, to the Turks, whose own cavalry whose Turkish garrison de- was deplorable) from the Jorclined to surrender, although dan side. Yet they took no communication between it and precautions as & result of Ammon, by means of the Hed- Mudawara, though it must jaz railway, had, owing to have been apparent that not constant raids, virtually ceased. only Ammon and Es Salt, but They knew that the Arab the whole east flank of their army did not possess suf- Palestine army, were in danger. ficient rifles, guns, or aero- On the Hedjaz railway south planes (there was 8 small of Damascus was a town and British Flying detachment station, Deraa, where was

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