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arrival of the Handley-Page, so much vaster than any 'plane they had seen, coupled with the great news of the morning, drove them frantic with joy. We had all been living a life of some strain and anxiety, not knowing what the morrow or indeed the next hour might bring forth, and the relief of knowing of Allenby's victory and what it meant was very real, though I, knowing L.'s plans, was less certain that our trials were over than the troops were. However, all of us, officers and men, British, Arabs, French, and and campfollowers, crowded round the oar of the 'plane, cheering frantically, some of the less instructed being under the impression that General B.'s spruce red-tabbed figure (an effective contrast to our pir. ate grew of bearded, ragged humanity) was that of General Allenby himself. With difficulty a way was cleared for him, and a guard of French gunners placed round the 'plane to guard it from the "souvenir" - hunters, Arabs being as partial as American tourists to that particular and peculiar vice, After a brief colloquy with L., and with Prince Feisul, who had driven up in his Vauxhall car from Azrak to meet the machine, General B. departed on his return journey amid more frantic plaudits than ever, and then the buccaneers returned to the cooking of their evening meal, and the discussion in their several languages of the events of the day.
This was, I believe, the first time that a Handley-Page had crossed the enemy lines by daylight, but General Geoffrey Salmond is a man who always goes ahead, and he was ever very friendly to us in Arabia.
On the next day S., Y., the Doctor, and I, and two armoured cars proceeded quite early in the direetion of the railway to blow up once again the line between Mafrak and Nasib. K., with fifty Shereefians and a French workingparty, under the redoubtable Sergeant M., preceded us, and General Nuri himself and two of the French guns brought up the rear. A little machinegun "nest" on the railway gave us some trouble, and a fierce band of Ruweilah irregulars who tried to gallop it had to retire with some casualties. However, a post on the railway was eventually established lower down, after the guns had dispersed a small Turkish foree who were working on the line, and sixtyfour rails were blown up. We tried to "do in" a bridge also, but the Turkish machine-guns, which were now worked by Beches, sent up specially from Ammon to cope with us, prevented us, and we had to make a run for it in one of the tenders, as the bullets were "ripping" round the wheels and radiator. On the following day L. and I, and an Arab officer, with two armoured cars, each with a crew of an officer, a machine-gunner, a driver, and & spare driver, started out before dawn to try and demolish another piece
of line near Mafrak. It was now more important than ever to make the gap in the railway south of Deraa continuous, since it would facilitate the outting-off of the Ammon Turkish IVth Army Division, who were being pursued by a force of the E.E.F., detached from Lord Allenby's main army.
However, on this occasion, owing to a gun and a machinegun post, we failed to reach the railway. We had to back out of action, and the cars sustained some minor damage from bullets, and, so far as I know, we killed no Turks; moreover, with that brutal love that the Englishman has for killing something before breakfast, we tried to murder a gazelle or two on the way back by pursuing and machinegunning a herd, and again failed to score a hit. I have never seen any buck go suoh a pace. Indeed they entirely outstripped us, and at last vanished into a mirage.
We reached Um El Surab about midday, and the column left again for El Umteiye that afternoon. It had been decided that the cars were to return to Akaba, whilst the rest of the British Mission on camels or mules, and the Egyptian Camel Corps and Gurkhas, who had never got farther than Azrak on their return journey to Akaba, were to go north with the Shereefians and Frenob, with a view to hampering the Turkish retreat north of Deraa, and, if possible, blocking its way to its objective
until the British arrived.
In pursuance of this object,
the column was ordered to be ready to march at 1 P.M. on the 25th. About half an hour before this time information reached us that most of the Ammon Turkish garrison were plodding along the route of the railway, the line being effectually out, about four miles away, heading for Deraa. Sure enough, a few minutes later we saw a huge cloud of yellow dust slowly rising on the horizon, and later still one could distinguish through glasses a straggling mélange of men, horses, guns, vehicles, and a few motorcars making their way slowly and painfully along the railway. At a rough estimate there seemed to be 3000 or 4000 men in this echelon. The only attempt at military formation on the part of this pitiable remnant of a once-powerful force, which had inflicted, I believe, nearly 3000 casualties on the two British forces sent to try and take Ammon and Es Salt in the previous March and April, was a sort of eavalry screen on its right flank, supported by a couple of guns. When about three miles from El Umteiye this screen altered its direction, so that it was heading straight for us. The armoured cars were just about to start on their long returnjourney to Akaba, but their leader could not resist a chance of having a go at enemy cavalry on a terrain which favoured the cars. The result was several empty Turkish saddles and a quick retreat by the "screen" back to the main body. We had fully expected that we were going
to be attacked.
Even in the These days constituted the orisis of the career of the column. We had surmounted difficulties and dangers innumerable-in the early days, of discovery by the Turks before we got to our objective; in later days, of being surprised and surrounded, and all the time of being out of water, ammunition, and rations, or of loss of confidence by the Arab regulars and irregulars in the enterprise. Now, with safety absolutely assured if we chose
state that this remnant from Ammon was in, such an engagement would have been a serious matter for us, as we were outnumbered at least by two to one in men and guns, whilst, presumably, further Turkish forces had now arrived in Deras from the retreating main body of the Turkish Palestine Army. The danger to us on that occasion and during the next two days was that a division or more of the Turkish army, less disintegrated than its fellows, might find us on its main to hide ourselves at Um El track northwards and consider it advisable to delay its retreat sufficiently long to surround and smash us up. Such a fate had overtaken a small mixed force, composed composed partly of Arabs, which in 1917 had attempted to delay the Turkish retreat from Beersheba sufficiently long to enable the Australian cavalry to come up and cut the Turks off. It is, however, only fair to Colonel Newcombe, who commanded this force (and whose amazing adventures as a prisoner in Constantinople are related in 'Eastern Nights and Flights'), to observe that he was fighting an enemy far less demoralised than the Turks were on this occasion. There was, however, a good deal of risk to be run by the column, and I am of opinion that we owed much in those few days, before we finally effected a junction with the British, to the good generalship displayed by General Nuri, backed by L.'s advice and genius for thinking ahead of nine people out of ten,
VOL. CCVII.-NO. MCCLVI.
Surab or anywhere off the main line of retreat and wait for the British to come up, General Nuri and L. deliberately but rightly decided to take the risk, of what amounted to annihilation, by fastening on the rear flanks of the Turks to worry and delay them and take all the prisoners possible— annihilation, because there were still 10,000 to 12,000 Turks at least, with guns, between us and the British; whilst our column at the moment, together with irregulars, numbered a bare 1000 and four little mountain-guns.
After the skirmish between the armoured cars and the Turkish cavalry, the main body of the Turkish force continued its way northwards to Deraa, whilst we also trekked northwards on a parallel route three or four miles away for El Taiyibe. Just before we started, some of the Ruweilah horse brought in 200 or 300 Turkish prisoners, who had straggled behind the force, to
gether with a number of transport carts drawn by miserable emaciated ponies, a mass of sores and galls. Even in the Near East, whose inhabitants, irrespective of race or religion, show 8 callous indifference to the sufferings of animals, the Turks are notorious for their bad treatment of their beasts of burden; but these particular animals made one sick to look at them, accustomed as one was to ill-treated dumb oreatures. Their condition could only have been partly due to the retreat, for they must have been starved and misused for months. It is sad to think how little the near proximity of the birthplace of three great religions has affected mankind's attitude in these countries towards the weak, either animal or human. Theoretioally, so far as other human beings are concerned, I am well aware that Moslems, Jews, or Christians in the Near East are supposed to help the poor, ailing, or unfortunate among their own people, but I have seen precious little evidence of it. I have always believed that the ingrained tendency of natives of the Near East and Levant to kick and ill-treat anything weaker than themselves was one of the reasons why the average British soldier, especially of the rank and file, so despised, even though his contempt was tolerant, most of the races with which he came into contact on the different fronts in the Near and Middle East. Apologists for the apparent hatred of Egyptian Nationalists for us British
almost invariably refer to the contemptuous attitude of British soldiers during the War as a cause of that hatred, but omit to add that it is less the contempt of the strong for the weak, than the contempt of a people, whose great virtue is fair-mindedness, for races who do not know the meaning of fair play. I say "a people advisedly, for the British troops on these fronts were of all classes and professions, and not one in a thousand would in normal times have seen these countries or contrasted the British system with the traditional systems that prevail there. The result may have far-reaching consequences for us and for the East.
Our way, on the afternoon in question, lay almost entirely, directly we left El Umteiye, over flat cultivated ground, from which the harvest of maize had been gathered. In front and on our left flank, some of them within sight of the enemy and keeping a sharp watch on his movements, were parties of Ruweilah in twos and threes, the vivid colours of their cloaks showing up against the khaki-coloured earth. Behind came General Nuri and his staff, with the Shereefian colours held proudly aloft by a camelman, accompanied by L. and his wiry, businesslike, Arab escort of picked men; next came the Arab regulars, riding their camels like townsfolk and not with the graceful ease of the desertborn men; then the French gunners, the officers on mules, the men on camels, and the
guns also on mules; and next the Egyptian Camel Corps and Gurkhas with P. (their commander), S., H., Y., and myself, with our servants and baggage (which was not excessive), the whole "outfit" on camels, save for Y., who bestrode a mule. I had two days before applied to General Nuri for a Turkish prisoner to act as my servant, as I was tired of being without one, and having to sponge on my friends for meals. I was allotted a big bucolic Turk, by name Ahmed, who was fairly intelligent and very willing and honest. He could not speak Arabic, but I communicated my wishes to him through a Kurdish Arab soldier, whom Y. and I "shared " as a groom. I provided Ahmed each day with three or four cigarettes, as well as with rations from my own allotment, and managed to get him a blanket, a water-bottle, and a knife, since when he came to me he had nothing but the (very inadequate) clothes that he stood up in. Perched on top of the baggage-camel that carried my few personal effects, his lot was cast in a considerably more pleasant place than that of his compatriots, who, weary, foot-sore, and holloweyed, their infantry uniforms, which always reminded me of British paupers' dress, increasing their dolorous appearance, trudged along in rear of the column. P. and I had distributed bread and tomatoes among the weaker of these prisoners, and we had put a few poor devils, who were too exhausted to walk, on the
spare camels that we had, whilst the French had done the same for others. The difficulty of feeding prisoners increased each day from now onwards, and the conveying of the sick and wounded among them was almost unsurmountable, though the Arabs, to do them justice, did their best. As their numbers increased to an extent which rendered them unmanageable, Sherif Nasser ranged a system of entrusting them in batches to the chiefs of the villages on our road, who gave a receipt for them, and were promised a reward for their future delivery in good condition.
On we went across the plain, undisturbed save by the visit of a British 'plane, which dropped a message to tell L. the latest position of Allenby's pursuing troops, and then departed. From time to time we could see on the horizon the dust of the Turkish force, and in rear of them two distinct columns of smoke, apparently from stations on the railway which they had burnt.
At dusk we reached El Taiyibe, where we halted until dawn, and then pushed on again, the Arab irregulars having spent the night in sniping at the retreating Turks, attacking their picquets, and making some more prisoners.
At dawn next morning we continued our march, and came on an Australian airman, whose machine had been shot through the radiator, and who had made a forced landing. We left