With all the dreadful events in Palestine and Israel going on our thoughts naturally turn to previous historic battles from years past in this much tortured region.
Back in 2017 Battle Honours ran a tour of the region looking at the British victory over the Ottoman forces, from Beersheva in the south to the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. In fact, the 1917 Anzac Palestine memorial sits inside Israel, just 800 metres from the Gaza border and very close to the Israeli Kibbutz of Be’eri the scene of the recent Hamas terrorist attacks on 7 October.
In 1917, Allenby’s advance on Jerusalem saw a series of actions along the coastal strip and pushing slowly east towards the City. An honour, El Mughar was awarded for troops who first fought on the ridge and at Junction Station on the Beersheva Railway line (Also visited on our trip). This opened the way for the Nebi Samwil battle in which Allenby was attempting to cut routes to and from Jerusalem but not actually fight in the city.
Nebi Samwil is the biblical site said to contain the tomb of the prophet Samuel. The high ground was well defended by Ottoman troops and witnessed fierce fighting before the British broke through and opened the way to Jerusalem. Fourteen British Yeomanry units, fifteen Australian Cavalry regiments and thirty-five Infantry regiments, including three Indian units, were awarded the Honour. One unit, the Duke of Lancaster’s Yeomanry was refused the award.
Amongst the County Yeomanry listed with the award are Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Berkshire, City of London (Rough Riders), County of London (Sharpshooters) and Lincolnshire. The Infantry regiments include Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Highland Light Infantry, Dorset Regt., Suffolk Regt. and well represented were numerous London Regiment TF Battalions from the 60th (London) Division including those from Hackney, Kensington, Poplar and Stepney, London Irish, St. Pancras and The Queen’s Westminsters. Such was the involvement of the 75th Infantry Division at the Jerusalem battles that it adopted a new insignia in the form of a key, the Key to Jerusalem.