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ARABIAN NIGHTS AND DAYS.
We reached Um El Surab of Allenby's viotery. Fortunsoon after dawn on a rather ately, the daily bombing never autumnal day, which was a synohronised with the hours reminder that the “legger at whioh the cars and animals rains” would probably start visited El Umteiye for water, earlier than they did the That morning at Surab we previous year, which, in Pales- heard that L. and the Egyptian tine, was supposed to be the Camel Corps had destroyed longest and hottest summer another small section of the in the memory of man. Cer- railway near a station called tainly, I do not remember ever Ifden during the night. J. being much hotter in mid- left about midday, accomsummer in those parts than at panied by Sherif Nasser, for the battle of Khuwelfeih, just Azrak, to confer with L. over after the capture of Beersheba, one or two points that had in October 1917.
arisen during the previous The surroundings of Um El twenty-four hours, and before Surab were muoh pleasanter leaving arranged
that than El Umteiye, because the further raid on the railway wells there were dry (we had should be attempted that to send over to El Umtoiye night by a party from the each day for water), and con- column. It was obvious that sequently, as it offered no in- so long as we stayed in the ducement for a Bedouin oamp vicinity, the more we could in ordinary times, the ground interrupt rail communioation was oleaner and the surround- between Doraa and Ammon, ing plain full of grass. General the safer we were. The plan Nuri arranged & system of day for this partioular night's
a and night pioquets as well as adventure was to send an patrols by the Raweilah horse, armoured oar with an escort and altogether we felt safer of about thirty Arab regulars and more comfortable, especi. and
« demolition party," ally as the Turks continued to consisting of K. and four of bomb El Umteiye for the next the French few days, apparently under the understood the business. K impression that we were still was a young British officer there, though
rooon- who was attached to General naissance from Doraa never Nuri's staff as
28 Intelligence materialised, for the reason, Officer, and who spoke Arabie which we did not then know, almost as well as he spoke that the whole Turkish organ- English, as he had spent his isation was in disorder 88 childhood in Egypt. He posresult of the first great phase sessed the only British batman
in the column, an Argyll and become like fox-hunting, “an Sutherland Highlander, very image of war with only 25 per redoubtable in action, who had cent of its danger," in view of perhaps the most remarkable the small number of casualties. rôle of any British soldier in On this occasion the lot fell any force; for, since K. messed upon me, so I spent the afterand lived at the Arab Head- noon in settling as well as I quarters, his batman resided could the route to be taken there also, cooking his own across the plain to the railway. food and living by himself, on While a compase would give terms not of familiarity but of the general direction, it would mutual respect with the Arab not guide us over the very soldiers — respect based
twisting course that it was weeks and months of hardship necessary to
take to avoid and endeavour in
6 wadis and the patches Whenever K. undertook any of impossible boulder - strewn perilous enterprise, of which ground. Moreover, there was oooupation he was very fond, one wadi which had to be he was acoompanied by this crossed and
and could only be dour, stalwart Highland negotiated by the armoured soldier. Of the four French car at one point. However, ganners mentioned above (the K. and I memorised the lie of majority of the detachment the land as well as we could,
from French North and erected oairns of stones to Afrioa), one was a Frenchman help our memory when night born, Sergeant M., a round, came. We could not, of course, rather fat little Frenchman reconnoitre the last two miles with large spectacles and to the railway, as it was essenwondering eyes, but, as I tial that the Turks should be shall presently show, of un- unaware of our project. From questioned courage.
& distanoe, however, this part The officer who commanded of the route looked comparathe Arab @soort was & viva- tively easy. oious and smiling young man
Soon after dusk
We get who spoke bad French and out. The armoured worse English with tremendous throbbed rhythmically over rapidity. He had, however, the ground, very slowly and the merit of being quite fond cautiously, with K. and I of “sorapping."
looking over the top of the The oomposition of the force turret and direoting the driver; having been settled, there re- whilst the thirty Shereefiane, mained the question of who plentifully supplied with was to be the senior British Hotohkiss guns, and the four officer who was to accompany, Frenoh gunners, jogged soberly it in command or as "adviser along on their oamels on our (whichover you will!), and for flank, with four men in front this there was some competi- and four behind, as advancetion, the sport of railway and rear-guard respectively. destruction in Arabia having A wadi, unsuspected by K,
and I during our afternoon party” retired, save for Serreconnoitre, just before we geant M. and K., who were reached the railway, gave the to light the fuses, each startoar some trouble, but at lasting in the middle and working British determination plus outwards, the Arab oommanRɔlls - Rɔyce durability tri. der and I being in the contre, umphed and she got across. about 250 yards from the line, The "wadi” had one advan. where we could direct oper&tage, which was that it affordød tions if necessary.
"Crash! exoellent shelter, for the camels beom!” went the first two who “barraked " (i.6., made to explosions, followed by a third lie down) in its dry bed were and fourth, when suddenly two praotioally under oover against machine-guns from the far side rifle or machine-gun fire from of the railway opened fire on the railroad.
A second later the arHaving orossed the wadi, moured cars replied, and we the Arabs proceeded to throw could hear the "gwish, swish " out pioquets eaob side of the of its machine-gan bullets over railway; the car took up a our heads. The Arab composition on & knoll whore it mander, after discharging & could give overhead machine- Very pistol, which, however gun fire proteotion to
the useful as a signal to his picpioquets if attacked, and K., quets to come in, had the
, his batman, and myself started praotical disadvantage of lightto lay “tulips” at one end
at one end ing up in the full glare of of the section of line, and publieity his figure and mine, the four Frenohmon at the retired bis men to their camels other. We had suffioient ex- hurriedly, but in good order, plosives for thirty-two tulips, whilst K., who managed to which, if they were all suo- explode all but three of his cessful, would mean the de- talips, and I, hurried back to
I struotion of sixty-four rails. the car.
the oar. The Arabs mounted As we were so ignorant of the and rode down the wadi, and lie of the land, and as oamels the car was about to follow and an armoured oar are at them when a French gunner the best oumbersome ob oame running up to tell me to move out of action at night, that Sergeant M. was missing.
, we decided that, if the Turks Here was
& quandary, as attacked us, we would retire Arabia is no country in which at once without patting up to leave out your wounded, more than a show of fight, and and it seemed obvious that explode what "tulips " we had he must have been hit. K. fixed. For an hour there
was just about to
back was no sound bat the tapping with his batman and look for and soraping of entrenohing- M., when, in response to my tools and picks; then came the oalls for the latter, a high, welcome moment when both squeaky, but weloome voice parties had completed their from the darkness oalled out, task, and the “demolition “Ioi, mon Commandant, ioi !"
It appeared that M. had oalm- on the line, he could not fail
& Bristol My explanation of the Turks' Fighter, accompanied by two attitude is this. I am oon- other machines, arrived from vinoed that they had a post Palestine with the electrifyquite close to where we were ing news of Allenby's great working-probably a dozen viotory. When we heard that private soldiers with two Nazareth, Nablus, Janin, Afule, machine-guns—but that such and a soore of other places, was their growing demoralisa- with 22,000 prisoners, had tion, as a result partly of the been oaptured,
could which had probably soaroely believe our ears. We reached them, though not yet heard, too, of the projeoted as, of Allenby's viotory, and advance northwards to Deras partly at the uniform success and Damasous, and of our of oor daily and nightly raids, inoreasingly important rôle as that they decided to lie low the foroe, tiny in truth, but and do nothing until the noise still the only foroe, between of the explosives compelled the Turks and their line of them to make show of retreat. I began to realise resistanoe, in view of the with a start that little midfact that they would be night adventures such as I likely to get into trouble with had lately taken part in were their officer if he knew they but play-acting compared with had let us once again blow what we might be oalled upon up the line without hindrance, to do in the way of getting The officer was probably at between the Turk and his Ifden, a mile or two away, objective, the goal of his fleeand whilst he would not have ing famished army in the heard our arrival and work North; for his one idea was
to get baok as near as he an Australian who has since oould to far-off Anatolia and become world-famous, and he comparative safety. I noticed hurried off to down
the with pride, but not without intruder. This he successfully apprehension, knowing the did, and the Turkish 'plane pure flame of his courage, fell in flames near the railway. that L. fully intended that He then returned and finished we should worry the retreat- his porridge, which had been ing Turk as mastiffs of old kept hot for him meanwhile ! worried a boar in & ring, But not for him a peaceful oblivious of the possible con breakfast that morning. He sequenoes. He had no inten- had barely reached the martion that the Arabs should malade stage, when another take a baok seat in the final Turkish 'plane appeared. Up destruction of the Turkish hurried the Australian again; army. There were political but this Turk was too wily as well as military considera- and souttled back to Deraa, tions at stake, as the Arabs only to be chased by P. on know well, and L. was only another machine, which sent playing on a highly keyed-up him down in flames. instrument. L. infooted us all After these exploits the with his enthusiasm, and I'planes departed, save for one, began to feel, despite my D.H.9, that remained with us, temperamental dislike of ad- and, whilst resting on venture qua adventure, that salt - pan which formed the it would be monstrous if, when temporary stable, was bombed the Tarkish fox came to be in the early afternoon by : broken up, the British got the Turk; he arrived before our body, head, and brush, and 'plane oould get up, and it was the Arabs, who had helped noteworthy as being almost to hunt him for three and a the last offensive aot that the half years, only got a bit of Turk performed against us. the pad. If we were in at The most exciting moment the military death of Turkey, of a very thrilling day was “Brer Fox," it would make it the arrival in the evening of the more difficult to refuse the E.E.F.'s only Handley. the Arabs a big share of the Page with General B. on results—spoils, if you will—of board. Enthusiasm had the viotory. Thas really began gradually been working up a fight which was continued in among the different nationthe Council Chamber in Paris, alities of the column all day, and of which the end is not yet. but it reached its olimax when
While L. and the airmon the Handley - Page made a were having breakfast with graceful landing. The Arabs Us, Turkish 'plane was always had a great admiraobserved, making straight for tion for and interest in the One of the airmen was British “Tiyaras,"
"1 and the '
1 Literally, “ Female Flying Things."