All objectives gained and the big offensive ends.
General Allenby our Commander in Chief is a wonder. He is a real live soldier and prefers the firing line to sitting back in comfort in Cairo like Murray who made such a mess of things here last March when we had 20,000 casualties at Gaza in a few hours, and got nothing for it.
We have now captured Bursheba, Shana Gaza, Hebron Ramleh Ludd Yebna Jaffa Bethlehem and Jerusalem. These are all big towns, the biggest being Jerusalem which has a population of 80,000, then comes Jaffa with 40,000 then Gaza with 20,000. In addition we have captured hundreds of villages, the country from Gaza to Jaffa is glorious.
In parts it reminds me of the Yanco and Borce plains in the Riverina at their very best.
The old Gum, Currajong, Cedar and Wattle etc dots the plain at intervals.
All the orange groves and vineyards are boardered with wattle and at present it is in full bloom. The colours and aroma is great and one would imagine we were back in Aussie again. The villages are very pretty, at a distance. The site generally chosen is on the crest of a hill and all the houses are of white with red tiled roofs. The streets are well metalled and wide with rows of wattle or gum and in some places, poplars or Elms running down in rows along the footpaths.
Each nationality have their own colony and each colony may contain several such villages. They are mainly Jewish, Syrian, Turkish and German colonies, but before the ware there were English, French and American colonies also.
A big number of the people speak English well.
(Note to blog readers: J.A.Graham's diary has no entries now for some months, commencing again in April)
Abdul strongly attacking but is not making headway.
(Insert from 9 December 1917): I spent a couple of days in Jaffa. It is a beautifully situated town, but dirty. It runs down right to the beach. Coming in from the eastern side one passes thru several miles of orange groves and wattle lined roads, all the oranges are ripe and the green and gold of the trees and the white houses and red tiled roofs in the background makes a beautiful picture.
I visited the English Hospital (now an orphanage) and is run by French Sisters and Syrian nurses. I met an extremely nice girl named Miss Lateifeh and she showed me all over the hospital. A beautiful view could be obtained of the whole of Jaffa from the balcony.
The inhabitants were very pleased to see us. One girl told me that the more she sees of the British the better she likes them.
I also met the Rev Mother of the Franciscan Convent and she told me of the awful sufferings that the Jewish and Syrian people had to put up with, but there’s no need to describe what you already know. I might just say a little though. Ojemal Pasha ordered from time to time the execution of a number of Jews and Syrians and the Turks would drag them from their homes and publicly hang them. In one batch, the Rev Mother said, they hung a Frenchman and 25 Jews and as each went on the scaffold shouted Vive La Franceise, Vive La Angletene.
The English and French languages were getting such a strong hold that the Turks ordered that anyone speaking the language would be put to death. She also told me of the death of one of the Sisters the night before we entered the city. It had been her wish to see the English in possession before she died and her last words were “The English are coming at last I can hear them marching”.
We arrived there that morning.
So you see they must have had a bad time when they looked forward to our coming with such longing.
It makes one feel glad that he’s done some good in helping rid the world of the unspeakable and savage brutes.
Went to Jaffa today. Glorious climate and great country. Reached outskirts 3 miles from here. Then a ride of two miles to centre of town.
Miles of orange trees in full bearing. Well kept roads, lined both sides with Wattle in full bloom, gum, Currajong and many other Aussie trees. A big town of 40,000 inhabitants. Many fine houses and public buildings, such as Town Hall, German Bank and Consulate, Hotels etc. English freely spoken.
A man holding a high position (whose house we saw) was hanged by the Turks for making arrangements to give us a great welcome.
Visited English hospital (now an Orphanage) and met Nurse Lateefeh, a Syrian girl, and mother from hospital balcony. Visited Miss McConachies house also and Franciscan RC Church. Miss Lateefeh a very nice girl. She must have suffered terribly, poor girl.
People are pleased that English are here.
Returned to Ludd for rations and moved out again to outskirts of Jaffa.
Entered Welhelma a German town. Well laid out town, with clean houses and nice clean streets with two lines of Aussie Gum Trees growing along footpath. Germans are up to date farmers.
An old chum Dick James badly wounded.
German people received us well and many speak English well.
Rained all day and night.
I got my meals at the Hotel.
(Insert from 9 December 1917): All Germans of military age had joined the army, however they did not show any bitterness towards us at all. In fact the girls seemed a jolly crowd and were walking about the streets with some of the boys. They all knew we were Australians and some wanted our plumes for souvenirs.
A few of us had dinner at the Hotel. The principal dish being roast turkey. In the dining room hung a picture of the Kaiser and the Kaiserin, but not for long.
One very nice old dame who spoke English well told me they have been without tea, cocoa, sugar and other luxuries for nearly 3 years.
Passed thru Ramleh and Ludd. Both big towns.
Big RC Churches in both places. Turks evidentially cleaned them out.
J. A. Graham
(Written later…): Resting at Base of Khirbet Deiran.
Met a family by name of Hoffmans who lived in West Aussie for a long time. They came here just before war broke out and were stranded.
The line of our advance commenced at Kazar, thence along the line to El Ganili, Bir-el-Esani, Al-Khalasa, Asbij to ... of Bursheeba. After the fall of Bursheeba we proceeded along the old Roman highroad and the old Hebron highway towards Hebron as far as Dhaheriyeh where a big bluff was successfully carried out.
We then went to Delak and Tel-el-Sharia and drove out the Turks. Thence to rear of Gaza.
From now on a rapid advance began. Passed numerous villages to Greek town of Kezezc. Captured railway station and junction of Gaza – Sharia also junction of Jaffa – Jerusalem a little further on.
Inhabitants now Jewish.
Many beautiful villages and towns lie dotted over the Plains including Ramleh Ludd and Yebria.
Plenty of tobacco, cigarettes, fruit, bread, eggs, butter, milk, nuts, wine, beer, cognac, etc obtainable.
Marched through towns of Ludd. Ramleh and other towns.
Population is now all Jewish.
One of our fellows in the 10th LH found his father and mother in the village of Deiran (proprietor of one of the hotels) after absence of 9 years. Great rejoicings.
People very pleased to have us here. A good many speak English well. Jewish bread a change, magnificent country.
They make very nice wine in the distilleries here.
Resting at Beit-ecni.
Village people pleased to see us. Met some nice girls who spoke English well. They belonged to Gaza.
Had a dip in the surf.
Reminder to mention organization, country and inhabitants.
Jack Graham, ANZAC soldier, kept a diary from 1914-1918. Here it is, blogged 100 years later to the day....