Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby

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The Viscount Allenby
Edmund Allenby.jpg
Field Marshal Viscount Allenby
Nickname(s)Bloody Bull or The Bull
Born(1861-04-23)23 April 1861
Brackenhurst, Nottinghamshire, UK
Died14 May 1936(1936-05-14) (aged 75)
London, UK
Allegiance United Kingdom/British Empire
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1880–1925
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held Egyptian Expeditionary Force
British Third Army
V Corps
Cavalry Corps
1st Cavalry Division
4th Cavalry Brigade
5th Royal Irish Lancers
6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons
Battles/wars Second Boer War
First World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Full list
Other work High Commissioner for Egypt and the Sudan (1919–25)

Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby, GCB , GCMG , GCVO (23 April 1861 – 14 May 1936) was an English soldier and British Imperial Governor. He fought in the Second Boer War and also in the First World War, in which he led the British Empire's Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Empire in the conquest of Palestine.

Field Marshal has been the highest rank in the British Army since 1736. A five-star rank with NATO code OF-10, it is equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy or a Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the Royal Air Force (RAF). A Field Marshal's insignia consists of two crossed batons surrounded by yellow leaves below St Edward's Crown. Like Marshals of the RAF and Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals traditionally remain officers for life, though on half-pay when not in an appointment. The rank has been used sporadically throughout its history and was vacant during parts of the 18th and 19th centuries. After the Second World War, it became standard practice to appoint the Chief of the Imperial General Staff to the rank on his last day in the post. Army officers occupying the post of Chief of the Defence Staff, the professional head of all the British Armed Forces, were usually promoted to the rank upon their appointment.

Second Boer War war between South African Republic and the United Kingdom

The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought them to terms.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Contents

The British succeeded in capturing Beersheba, Jaffa, and Jerusalem from October to December 1917. His forces occupied the Jordan Valley during the summer of 1918, then went on to capture northern Palestine and defeat the Ottoman Yildirim Army Group's Eighth Army at the Battle of Megiddo, forcing the Fourth and Seventh Army to retreat towards Damascus. Subsequently, the EEF Pursuit by Desert Mounted Corps captured Damascus and advanced into northern Syria.

Beersheba Place in Israel

Beersheba, also Be'er Sheva, is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev", it is the center of the fourth most populous metropolitan area in Israel, the eighth most populous Israeli city with a population of 207,551, and the second largest city with a total area of 117,500 dunams.

Jaffa old part of the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo

Jaffa, in Hebrew Yafo, or in Arabic Yaffa, the southern and oldest part of Tel Aviv-Yafo, is an ancient port city in Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon and Saint Peter as well as the mythological story of Andromeda and Perseus, and later for its oranges.

Jerusalem City in the Middle East

Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.

During this pursuit, he commanded T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), whose campaign with Faisal's Arab Sherifial Forces assisted the EEF's capture of Ottoman Empire territory and fought the Battle of Aleppo, five days before the Armistice of Mudros ended the campaign on 30 October 1918. He continued to serve in the region as High Commissioner for Egypt and Sudan from 1919 until 1925.

T. E. Lawrence British archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat

Thomas Edward Lawrence, was a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat, and writer. He was renowned for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign and the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia—a title used for the 1962 film based on his wartime activities.

Faisal I of Iraq 20th-century King of Syria and Iraq

Faisal I bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi was King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933. He was the third son of Hussein bin Ali, the Grand Sharif of Mecca, who had proclaimed himself King of the Arab lands in October 1916.

Sharifian Army

The Sharifian Army, also known as the Arab Army or the Hejazi army was the military force behind the Arab Revolt which was a part of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. Sharif Husayn ibn 'Ali of the Kingdom of Hejaz, who was proclaimed "Sultan of the Arabs" in 1916, led the Sharifian Army in a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire with the ultimate goal of uniting the Arab people under an independent government. Aided both financially and militarily by the British, Husayn's forces gradually moved north through the Hijaz and, fought alongside the British-controlled Egyptian Expeditionary Force, eventually taking Damascus. Once there, members of the Sharifian Army set up a short-lived monarchy led by Faisal, a son of Sharif Husayn.

Early years and active service

Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby (1861-1936), British Field Marshal by Henry Walter Barnett Ed-Allenby.jpg
Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby (1861-1936), British Field Marshal by Henry Walter Barnett

Allenby was born in 1861, the son of Hynman Allenby and Catherine Anne Allenby (née Cane) and was educated at Haileybury College. [1] He had no great desire to be a soldier, and tried to enter the Indian Civil Service but failed the entry exam. [1] He sat the exam for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in 1880 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons on 10 May 1882. [2] He joined his regiment in South Africa later that year, [3] taking part in the Bechuanaland Expedition of 1884-85. [4] After serving at the cavalry depot in Canterbury, he was promoted to captain on 10 January 1888 [5] and then returned to South Africa. [3]

Haileybury and Imperial Service College school in Hertfordshire, England

Haileybury is an independent school near Hertford in England. Originally a major boys' public school, it is now co-educational, enrolling pupils at 11+, 13+ and 16+ stages of education. Over 780 pupils attend Haileybury, of whom more than 500 board.

Royal Military College, Sandhurst British Army military academy

The Royal Military College (RMC), founded in 1801 and established in 1802 at Great Marlow and High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England, but moved in October 1812 to Sandhurst, Berkshire, was a British Army military academy for training infantry and cavalry officers of the British and Indian Armies.

Lieutenant is a junior officer rank in the British Army and Royal Marines. It ranks above second lieutenant and below captain and has a NATO ranking code of OF-1 and it is the senior subaltern rank. Unlike some armed forces which use first lieutenant, the British rank is simply lieutenant, with no ordinal attached. The rank is equivalent to that of a flying officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Although formerly considered senior to a Royal Navy (RN) sub-lieutenant, the British Army and Royal Navy ranks of lieutenant and sub-lieutenant are now considered to be of equivalent status. The Army rank of lieutenant has always been junior to the Navy's rank of lieutenant.

Allenby returned to Britain in 1890 and he sat – and failed – the entry exam for the Staff College in Camberley. Not deterred, he sat the exam again the next year and passed. Captain Douglas Haig of the 7th Hussars also entered the Staff College at the same time, thus beginning a rivalry between the two that ran until the First World War. [3] Allenby was more popular with fellow officers, even being made Master of the Draghounds in preference to Haig who was the better rider; Allenby had already developed a passion for polo. [3] Their contemporary James Edmonds later claimed that the staff at Staff College thought Allenby dull and stupid but were impressed by a speech that he gave to the Farmers' Dinner, which had in fact been written for him by Edmonds and another. [6]

Staff College, Camberley former staff college for the British Army and the Presidency armies of British India

Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, was a staff college for the British Army and the presidency armies of British India. It had its origins in the Royal Military College, High Wycombe founded in 1799, which in 1802 became the Senior Department of the new Royal Military College. In 1858 the name of the Senior Department was changed to "Staff College", and in 1870 this was separated from the Royal Military College. Apart from periods of closure during major wars, the Staff College continued to operate until 1997, when it was merged into the new Joint Services Command and Staff College. The equivalent in the Royal Navy was the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich and the equivalent in the Royal Air Force was the RAF Staff College, Bracknell.

Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig British Field Marshal

Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, was a senior officer of the British Army. During the First World War, he commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front from late 1915 until the end of the war. He was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, the Third Battle of Ypres, the German Spring Offensive, and the Hundred Days Offensive.

He was promoted to major on 19 May 1897 [7] and was posted to the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, then serving in Ireland, as the Brigade-Major in March 1898. [3]

Cavalry soldiers or warriors fighting from horseback

Cavalry or horsemen are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms. An individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman, horseman, dragoon, or trooper. The designation of cavalry was not usually given to any military forces that used other animals, such as camels, mules or elephants. Infantry who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries as dragoons, a class of mounted infantry which later evolved into cavalry proper while retaining their historic title.

Brigade Military formation size designation, typically of 3-6 battalions

A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of three to six battalions plus supporting elements. It is roughly equivalent to an enlarged or reinforced regiment. Two or more brigades may constitute a division.

Boer War

Following the outbreak of the Second Boer War in October 1899, Allenby returned to his regiment, and the Inniskillings embarked at Queenstown and landed at Cape Town, South Africa, later that year. [3] He took part in the actions at Colesberg on 11 January 1900, Klip Drift on 15 February 1900 and Dronfield Ridge on 16 February 1900, [3] and was mentioned in despatches by the commander-in-chief, Lord Roberts on 31 March 1900. [8]

Major Allenby was appointed to command the squadron of New South Wales Lancers, who were camped beside the Australian Light Horse outside Bloemfontein. Both men and horses suffered from the continuous rain and cases of enteric fever were taken away every day. Allenby soon established himself as a strict disciplinarian, according to A. B. Paterson even imposing a curfew on the officer's mess. [9]

Allenby participated in the actions at Zand River on 10 May 1900, Kalkheuval Pass on 3 June 1900, Barberton on 12 September 1900 and Tevreden on 16 October 1900 when the Boer General Jan Smuts was defeated. [3] He was promoted to local lieutenant-colonel on 1 January 1901, [10] and to local colonel on 29 April 1901. [11] In a despatch dated 23 June 1902, Lord Kichener, Commander-in-Chief during the latter part of the war, described him as "a popular and capable Cavalry Brigadier". [12] For his services during the war, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the South Africa honours list published on 26 June 1902, [13] and he received the actual decoration of CB from King Edward VII during an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 24 October 1902. [14]

Edwardian Period

Allenby returned to Britain in 1902 and became commanding officer of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers in Colchester with the substantive rank of lieutenant-colonel on 2 August 1902, [15] and the brevet rank of colonel from 22 August 1902. [16] He was promoted to the substantive rank of colonel and to the temporary rank of brigadier general on 19 October 1905. [17] He assumed command of the 4th Cavalry Brigade in 1906. [18] He was promoted again to the rank of major-general on 10 September 1909 [19] and was appointed Inspector-General of Cavalry in 1910 due to his extensive cavalry experience. [18] He was nicknamed "The Bull" due to an increasing tendency for sudden bellowing outbursts of explosive rage directed at his subordinates, combined with his powerful physical frame. [18] Allenby stood 6'2 with a barrel chest and his very bad temper made "The Bull" a figure who inspired much consternation under those who had to work under him. [20]

First World War

Western Front

During the First World War, Allenby initially served on the Western Front. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, a British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was sent to France. It consisted of four infantry divisions and one cavalry division, the latter commanded by Allenby. The cavalry division first saw action in semi-chaotic circumstances covering the retreat after the Battle of Mons opposing the German Army's invasion of France. One of Allenby's subordinates claimed at the time: "He cannot explain verbally, with any lucidity at all, what his plans are". [21] When a headquarters officer asked why Hubert Gough's cavalry brigade was miles from where it was supposed to be, he received the reply: "He told me he was getting as far away from the Bull as possible. It was a most scandalous affair, and he was in an almost open rebellion against Allenby at the time". [21] [Note 1] The division distinguished itself under Allenby's direction in the subsequent fighting, with minimal resources at its disposal, at the First Battle of Ypres. [18]

Allenby was promoted to temporary lieutenant general on 10 October 1914. [22] As the BEF was expanded in size to two Armies, he was rewarded by being made commander of the Cavalry Corps. [18] On 6 May 1915, Allenby voluntarily left the Cavalry Arm to take up command of V Corps which was engaged at that moment in severe fighting at the Second Battle of Ypres. Commanding a corps seemed to make Allenby's bad temper even worse where anything from a split infinitive in a staff paper to discovering a corpse in the field without the tin helmet that Allenby ordered his men to wear sent Allenby off into a rage. [21] The V Corps was victorious in defeating the German assault but incurred controversially heavy losses in the process through Allenby's tactical policy of continual counter-attacks at the German attacking force. In September 1915, V Corps attempted a diversion of German strength to facilitate the concurrent British offensive at Loos. They executed a minor attack in the Hooge Sector in the Ypres Salient under Allenby's direction, which once again incurred substantial losses to its units involved in the affair. [23] In October 1915, Allenby was promoted to lead the British Third Army, [18] being made lieutenant-general (substantive rank) on 1 January 1916. [24] In mid-Summer 1916, he was the Army Commander in support of the launch of the Battle of the Somme offensive, with responsibility for the abortive assault by 3rd Army troops on the trench fortress of the Gommecourt salient, which failed with severe casualties to the units under his command in the operation. By this time in 1916, Archibald Wavell who was one of Allenby's staff officers and supporters, wrote that Allenby's temper seemed to "confirm the legend that 'the Bull' was merely a bad-tempered, obstinate hot-head, a 'thud-and-blunder' general". [21] Allenby harboured doubts about the leadership of the commander of the BEF, General Sir Douglas Haig, but refused to allow any of his officers to say anything critical about Haig. [25] However, despite Allenby's rages and obsession with applying the rules in a way that often seemed petty, Allenby's staff officers found an intellectually curious general who was interested in finding new ways of breaking the stalemate. [26] J. F. C. Fuller called Allenby "a man I grew to like and respect", a man who always asked his staff if they had any new ideas about how to win the war. [26] Allenby had wider interests than many other British generals, reading books on every conceivable subject from botany to poetry and was noted for his critical intellect. [26] An officer who had dinner with Allenby at his headquarters in a French château recalled:

His keen grey-blue eyes, under heavy brows, search the face while he probes the mind with sharp, almost staccato questions about everything under the sun except what is expected. He cannot suffer fools gladly and demands an unequivocal affirmative or negative to every query he makes. He has a habit of asking questions on the most abstruse subjects, and an unpleasant knack of catching out anyone who gives an evasive answer for the sake of politeness. [27]

Many of Allenby's officers believed that he was incapable of any emotion except rage, but he was a loving father and husband who was intensely concerned about his only child, Michael, who was serving at the front. [27] Before Allenby went to bed every night, Allenby would enter the office of the officer who took the daily casualty returns, ask "Have you any news of my little boy today?" and after the officer replied "No news sir", Allenby would then go to bed a reassured man. [27] His son, a lieutenant in the Royal Horse Artillery, was to die of wounds on 29 July 1917 aged 19, at Coxyde, Belgium. [28]

In early 1917, Allenby was ordered by Haig to start preparations for a major offensive around the city of Arras. [27] During his planning Allenby insisted upon putting into practice many of the ideas that his staff officers had offered. [29] Allenby rejected the normal week-long bombardment of the German trenches before making an assault, instead planning on a 48-hour bombardment before the assault went ahead. [29] In addition, Allenby had made careful plans to control traffic in the rear to prevent traffic jams that would block his logistics, a second echelon behind the first echelon that would only be sent in to exploit successes, tunnels to bring up new divisions behind the German lines while avoiding German fire and finally new weapons like tanks and aircraft were to play prominent roles in the offensive. [29] In March 1917, the Germans pulled back to the Hindenburg Line, which led Allenby to argue that the planned offensive in the Arras sector in April should be changed, a request Haig refused. [29] Despite refusing Allenby's request for more time to change his plans, Haig informed him that the entire responsibility for the failure of the Arras offensive would rest with him. [30] As the Zero Hour for the offensive at 5: 30 am on 9 April 1917 approached, Allenby was thus unusually worried as he knew his entire career was in the balance. [30]

At first, the Arras offensive went well with the Third Army breaking through the German lines and advancing three and a half miles in one day. [31] In a letter to his wife on 10 April 1917, Allenby wrote: "I had a very big success yesterday. I won all along the line; killed a host of Boche and took over 7,500 prisoners...We have, at last, brought off what I been working on all winter. My staff has been splendid". [32] There were weeks of heavy fighting during 3rd Army's offensive at the Battle of Arras in the Spring of the 1917, where an initial breakthrough had deteriorated into trench-fighting positional warfare—once more with heavy casualties to 3rd Army's units involved. Allenby lost the confidence of his Commander-in-chief, Haig. He was promoted to full General on 3 June 1917, [33] but he was replaced at the head of 3rd Army on 9 June 1917 and returned to England. [18]

Egypt and Palestine

Drawing of Allenby from journal "The War" c. 1917 General Allenby.jpg
Drawing of Allenby from journal "The War" c. 1917

British War Cabinet Debate

The British War Cabinet was divided in debate in May 1917 over the allocation of British resources between the Western Front and other fronts, with Allied victory over Germany far from certain. Curzon and Hankey recommended that Britain seize ground in the Middle East. Lloyd George wanted more effort on other fronts, but also wanted a commander "of the dashing type" to replace Sir Archibald Murray in command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. Smuts refused the command (late May) unless promised resources for a decisive victory. Lloyd George appointed Allenby to the role. [18]

British Change in Mindset

When Allenby received this assignment, he first believed it was a joke, because he was still on the thought that the war would be decided on the Western Front. Instead, this "joke" represented a change in mindset in many British leaders. Previously, leaders were concerned that taking over Palestine would divide it and leave it for other countries to take, but repeated losses to the Turkish Army and the stalled Western Front left many leaders including Lloyd George to believe that taking Palestine was the right decision. [34] Although many wanted this change, Chief of the Imperial General Staff ("CIGS") Robertson believed that Western Front commitments did not justify a serious attempt to capture Jerusalem (Third Ypres was in progress from 31 July until November), and throughout 1917 he put pressure on Allenby to demand unrealistically large reinforcements to discourage the politicians from authorising Middle East offensives. Allenby's exact remit was still undecided when he was appointed. [35]

Allenby's Campaign

Allenby arrived on 27 June 1917. On 31 July 1917 he received a telegram from his wife saying that Michael Allenby had been killed in action, leading to Allenby's break down in tears in public while he recited a poem by Rupert Brooke. [36] Afterwards, Allenby kept his grief to himself and his wife, and instead threw himself into his work with icy determination, working very long hours without a break. [27] Wavell recalled: "He went on with his work and asked no sympathy. Only those who stood close to him knew how heavy the blow had been, how nearly it had broken him, and what courage it had taken to withstand it". [36] Allenby assessed the Turkish Army's fighting force that he was facing to be 46,000 rifles and 2,800 sabres, and estimated that he could take Jerusalem with 7 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions. He did not feel that there was a sufficient military case to do so, and felt that he would need reinforcements to advance further. Allenby understood the problems posed by logistics in the desert and spent much time working to ensure his soldiers would be well supplied at all times, especially with water. [37] The logistics of getting water to the soldiers and through the desert is thought to be the biggest challenge and accomplishment Allenby made in the Middle East campaign. [38] Allenby also saw the importance of good medical treatment and insisted that proper medical facilities be created to treat all of the diseases common to the Middle East like ophthalmia and enteric fever. [37] Allenby was eventually ordered to attack the Turks in southern Palestine, but the extent of his advance was not yet to be decided, advice which Robertson repeated in "secret and personal" notes (1 and 10 August). [39]

Allenby quickly won the respect of his troops by making frequent visits to the EEF's front-line units, in a marked change from the leadership style of his predecessor Murray, who had commanded primarily from Cairo. Allenby moved the EEF's GHQ from the Egyptian capital city to Rafah, nearer to the front lines at Gaza, and re-organized the disparate forces of the EEF into a three primary corps order of battle: XX, XXI, and the Desert Mounted Corps. He also approved the utilisation of Arabic irregular forces which were operating at that time to the Turkish Army's open left flank in the Arabian interior, under the direction of a young British Army Intelligence officer named T. E. Lawrence. He sanctioned £200,000 a month for Lawrence to facilitate his work amongst the tribes involved. [40]

In early October 1917, Robertson asked Allenby to state his extra troop requirements to advance from the Gaza-Beersheba line (30 miles wide) to the Jaffa-Jerusalem line (50 miles wide), urging him to take no chances in estimating the threat of a German-reinforced threat. Allenby's estimate was that he would need 13 extra divisions (an impossible demand even if Haig's forces went on the defensive) and that he might face 18 Turkish and 2 German divisions. Yet, in private letters, Allenby and Robertson agreed that sufficient British Empire troops were already in place to take and hold Jerusalem. [41]

Having reorganised his regular forces, Allenby won the Third Battle of Gaza (31 October – 7 November 1917) by surprising the defenders with an attack at Beersheba. [42] The first step in capturing Beersheba was to send out false radio messages prompting the Turkish forces to think Britain was going to attack Gaza. After that, one brave intelligence officer, Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, rode right up to the Turkish line, barely evading capture. In the fray, he dropped a bloodstained bag, smeared with horse blood, with fake military plans in it. The plans falsely described how the British force was on its way to capture Gaza. Additional radio messages threatening Meinertzhagen made up the Turkish Army’s mind: the British Army was going to attack Gaza. [43] Instead, they went through with the capture of Beersheba. “The Turks at Beersheba were undoubtedly taken completely by surprise, a surprise from which the dash of London troops and Yeomanry, finely supported by their artillery, never gave them time to recover. The charge of the Australian Light Horse completed their defeat” – Allenby [44] His force captured the water supply there, and was able to push onward through the desert. [34] His force pushed northwards towards Jerusalem. “Favoured by a continuance of fine weather, preparation for a fresh advance against the Turkish positions... of Jerusalem proceeded rapidly” – Allenby [44] The Ottomans were beaten at Junction Station (10–14 November), [42] and retreated out of Jerusalem, [34] which was on 9 December 1917. [42]

Honouring Jerusalem on foot

The victorious General Allenby dismounted, enters Jerusalem on foot out of respect for the Holy City, 11 December 1917 Detail of Allenby Entering Jerusalem.jpg
The victorious General Allenby dismounted, enters Jerusalem on foot out of respect for the Holy City, 11 December 1917

Allenby dismounted and entered the city on foot through the Jaffa Gate, together with his officers, in deliberate contrast to the perceived arrogance of the Kaiser's entry into Jerusalem on horseback in 1898 [45] which was not well received by the local citizens. [44] He did this out of respect for the status of Jerusalem as the Holy City important to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (see his proclamation of martial law below). [45] The people of Jerusalem saw Allenby's entrance on foot as a sign of his modesty. [46] He subsequently stated in his official report:

...I entered the city officially at noon, 11 December, with a few of my staff, the commanders of the French and Italian detachments, the heads of the political missions, and the Military Attaches of France, Italy, and America... The procession was all afoot, and at Jaffa gate I was received by the guards representing England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, India, France and Italy. The population received me well..." [47]

Allenby's official proclamation of martial law following the fall of Jerusalem on 9 December 1917 read as follows:

To the Inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the People Dwelling in Its Vicinity:
  The defeat inflicted upon the Turks by the troops under my command has resulted in the occupation of your city by my forces. I, therefore, here now proclaim it to be under martial law, under which form of administration it will remain so long as military considerations make necessary.
  However, lest any of you be alarmed by reason of your experience at the hands of the enemy who has retired, I hereby inform you that it is my desire that every person pursue his lawful business without fear of interruption.
  Furthermore, since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore, do I make it known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.
  Guardians have been established at Bethlehem and on Rachel's Tomb. The tomb at Hebron has been placed under exclusive Moslem control.
  The hereditary custodians at the gates of the Holy Sepulchre have been requested to take up their accustomed duties in remembrance of the magnanimous act of the Caliph Omar, who protected that church. [47]

Allenby received Christian, Jewish and Muslim community leaders in Jerusalem and worked with them to ensure that religious sites of all three faiths were respected. [48] Reflecting his desire to avoid having his campaign being presented as a religious war, Allenby sent his Indian Muslim soldiers to guard Islamic religious sites, feeling that this was the best way of reaching out to the Muslim population of Jerusalem. [48]

Upon entering, he also reportedly made the remark "only now have the crusades ended." [49] The crusade imagery was used to describe the campaign by the British press and later by the British Ministry of Information. [50] Mindful of the Pan-Islamic propaganda of the Ottomans who proclaimed a jihad against the Allies in 1914, Allenby himself discouraged the use of the crusader imagery, banned his press officers from using the terms crusade and crusader in their press releases and always went out of his way to insist that he was fighting merely the Ottoman Empire, not Islam. [48]

“[The citizens of Jerusalem were] at first welcoming because they were glad the Ottomans were gone and they wanted a good relationship with the British. [They were] also cautious as they did not want the British to stay.” [38]

Middle East victory

Asked again after the Fall of Jerusalem, Allenby wrote that he would need 16–18 divisions for a further advance of 250 miles to Aleppo (the Damascus-Beirut Line) to cut Turkish communications to Mesopotamia. By early 1918, 50,000 Turks in the theatre were tying down a British Empire ration strength of over 400,000 (of whom almost half were non-combatants, and 117,471 were British troops). [51]

Smuts was sent to Egypt to confer with Allenby and Marshall, with Robertson's clash with the government now moving to its final stages, and the new Supreme War Council at Versailles drawing up plans for more efforts in the Middle East. Allenby told Smuts of Robertson's private instructions (sent by hand of Walter Kirke, appointed by Robertson as Smuts' adviser) that there was no merit in any further advance. Allenby worked with Smuts to draw up plans to reach Haifa by June and Damascus by the autumn, reinforced by 3 divisions from Mesopotamia. The speed of the advance was limited by the need to lay fresh rail track. This met with War Cabinet approval (6 March 1918). [52]

The German Spring Offensive on the Western Front meant that Allenby was without reinforcements after his forces failed to capture Amman in March and April 1918. He halted the offensive in the spring of 1918 and had to send 60,000 men to the Western Front, although the Dominion Prime Ministers in the Imperial War Cabinet continued to demand a strong commitment to the Middle East in case Germany could not be beaten. [52]

New troops from the British Empire (specifically Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa) led to the resumption of operations in August 1918. Following an extended series of deceptive moves, the Ottoman line was broken at the Battle of Megiddo (19–21 September 1918), and the Allied cavalry passed through and blocked the Turkish retreat. The EEF then advanced at an impressive rate, as high as 60 miles in 55 hours for cavalry, and infantry slogging 20 miles a day and encountering minimal resistance. Damascus fell on 1 October, Homs on 16 October, and Aleppo on 25 October. With the threat of Asia Minor being invaded, the Ottoman Empire capitulated on 30 October 1918 with the signing of the Armistice of Mudros. [42]

Field Marshal and High Commissioner

Allenby was made a field marshal on 31 July 1919, [53] and created Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and of Felixstowe in the County of Suffolk on 7 October. [54]

His appointment in 1919 as Special High Commissioner of Egypt came as the country was being disrupted by demonstrations against British rule. It had been under Martial Law since 1914 and several of Egyptian leaders, including Saad Zaghlul, had been exiled to Malta. [55]

These deportations had led to rioting across the country, with Cairo isolated. Allenby’s first response was conciliatory. He persuaded the Colonial Office to allow Zaghlul and his delegation, wafd, to travel to France. Their intention was to present the Egyptian case to the Paris Peace Conference but they received no official recognition and returned to Egypt in failure. [56]

In early 1921 there were more riots and demonstrations that were blamed on Zaghlul. This time Allenby ordered that Zaghlul and five other leaders be deported to the Seychelles. Sixteen rioters were executed. The following year Allenby travelled to London with proposals which he insisted be implemented. They included the end of Martial Law, the drafting of an Egyptian Constitution and the return of Zaglul. Progress was made: Egypt was granted limited self-government, and a draft constitution was published in October 1922 leading to the formation of a Zaghlul government in January 1924. The following November the commander of British forces in Egypt and Sudan, Lee Stack, was assassinated in Cairo. Allenby’s response was draconian and included a humiliating £500,000 fine to be paid by the Egyptian Government. In May 1925, Allenby resigned and returned to England. [57] [54]

Retirement

Allenby was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Cinque Ports Fortress Royal Engineers on 12 September 1925 [58] and made Captain of Deal Castle. [59]

Murray and Allenby were invited to give lectures at Aldershot in 1931 about the Palestine Campaign. Exchanging letters beforehand, Murray asked whether it had been worth risking the Western Front (in the autumn of 1917) to transfer troops to Palestine. Allenby avoided that question, but commented that in 1917 and into the spring of 1918 it had been far from clear that the Allies were going to win the war. Russia was dropping out, but the Americans were not yet present in strength. France and Italy were weakened and might have been persuaded to make peace, perhaps by Germany giving up Belgium or Alsace-Lorraine, or Austria-Hungary giving up the Trentino. In those circumstances, Germany was likely to be left in control of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and it had been sensible for Britain to grab some land in the Middle East to block Germany's route to India. Allenby's views mirrored those of the War Cabinet at the time. [60]

Allenby went to Patagonia for a last fishing trip, aged 74, to see if the salmon really were as big as those in the Tay. [61] He died suddenly from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm on 14 May 1936 in London, aged 75. He was cremated and his ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey. [54]

Legacy

Allenby's Monument in Beersheba AllenbyMonument.jpg
Allenby's Monument in Beersheba

Allenby supposedly once said that people would have to visit a war museum to learn of him, but that T. E. Lawrence would be remembered and become a household name. This was quoted by Robert Bolt in his screenplay for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia , directed by David Lean. A blue plaque unveiled in 1960 commemorates Allenby at 24 Wetherby Gardens, South Kensington, London. [62]

Publicity surrounding Allenby's exploits in the Middle East was at its highest in Britain in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. Allenby enjoyed a period of celebrity in the United States, as well. He and his wife went on an American tour in 1928, receiving a standing ovation when he addressed Carnegie Hall in New York City. [63] Biographer Raymond Savage claimed that, for a time, Allenby was better known in America than Lawrence. [64]

Allenby was the subject of a 1923 documentary film by British Instructional Films entitled Armageddon, detailing his military leadership during World War I. However, the film is believed lost. [65]

The epic film Lawrence of Arabia depicts the Arab Revolt during World War I. Allenby is given a major part in it and is portrayed by Jack Hawkins in one of his best-known roles. Screenwriter Bolt called Allenby a "very considerable man" and hoped to depict him sympathetically. [66] Nonetheless, many view Allenby's portrayal as negative. [67] [68]

The efforts of T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") were greatly aided by Allenby in the Arab Revolt, and he thought highly of Allenby: "(He was) physically large and confident, and morally so great that the comprehension of our littleness came slow to him". [69]

Into the 1990s, residents of Ismaïlia in north-eastern Egypt burned effigies to mark an annual spring holiday, including one of Allenby more than 70 years after he led forces in the Sinai. [70]

The British journalist Mark Urban has argued that Allenby is one of the most important British generals who ever lived, writing that Allenby's use of air power, mechanised forces and irregulars led by Lawrence marked one of the first attempts at a new type of war while at the same time he had to act as a politician holding together a force comprising men from many nations, making him "the first of the modern supreme commanders". [71] Urban further argued during the war, the British government had made all sorts of plans for the Middle East such as the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916 and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, but as long as the Ottoman Empire continued to hold much of the Near East, these plans meant nothing. [72] By defeating the Ottomans in 1917–18, Allenby, if he did not create the modern Middle East, at the very least made the creation of the modern Middle East possible. [72] If the Ottoman Empire had continued in its pre-war frontiers after the war — and before Allenby arrived in Egypt the British had not advanced very far — then it is probable that the nations of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq would not exist today. [72]

Family

In 1897, Allenby married Miss Adelaide Chapman, the daughter of a Wiltshire landowner. [3] Their only son, Lieutenant Horace Michael Hynman Allenby, MC (1898–1917), was killed in action at Koksijde in Flanders. [73]

On Allenby's death, his title passed to his nephew Lt-Col. Dudley Allenby, son of Captain Frederick Allenby, who succeeded as 2nd Viscount. [74]

Honours

Ribbon bar (as it would look today):

Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png UK Order St-Michael St-George ribbon.svg Royal Victorian Order ribbon sm.jpg VOStJ ribbon.png

Queens South Africa Medal 1899-1902 ribbon.png King's South Africa Medal.png Ribbon - 1914 Star & Rosette.png British War Medal BAR.svg

Victory Medal MID ribbon bar.svg King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.png GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png Legion Honneur GO ribbon.svg

BEL Croix de Guerre WW1 ribbon.svg SRB Orden Belog Orla BAR.svg GRE Order Redeemer 1Class.png Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 ribbon.svg

U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Grande ufficiale OMS BAR.svg Romanian kruunuritarikunnan suurristi.png Order of the Osmanie lenta.png

Jordan004.gif Order of Michael the Brave ribbon.svg JPN Kyokujitsu-sho 1Class BAR.svg JPN Kyokujitsu-sho Paulownia BAR.svg Grand Crest Ordre de Leopold.png

British

Campaign and commemorative medals

Others

See also

Notes

  1. During the retreat from Mons, Allenby clashed with Gough, his subordinate then commanding 3rd Cavalry Brigade. Gough wrote in 1930 that "we were kept in such ignorance of the entire situation" by "that stupid man Allenby", and he claimed to have not known the whole story of what had been going on until he read Smith-Dorrien's memoirs. [Farrar-Hockley 1975, p. 352]

Related Research Articles

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Sources

Further reading


Military offices
Preceded by
Herbert Plumer
GOC V Corps
May 1915 – October 1915
Succeeded by
Hew Fanshawe
Preceded by
New creation
Commander of the British Third Army
October 1915 – June 1917
Succeeded by
Sir Julian Byng
Preceded by
Sir Archibald Murray
General Officer Commanding the British Troops in Egypt
and the Egyptian Expeditionary Force

1917–1919
Succeeded by
Sir Walter Congreve
Preceded by
The Lord Grenfell
Colonel of the 1st Life Guards
1920–1922
amalgamated to form The Life Guards
Preceded by
Sir Henry Jenner Scobell
Colonel of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers
1912–1922
amalgamated to form 16th/5th Lancers
New regiment Colonel of the 16th/5th Lancers
1922–1936
Succeeded by
Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough
Political offices
Preceded by
New creation
Chief Administrator of Palestine
1917–1918
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Wigram Money
Preceded by
Sir Reginald Wingate
British High Commissioner in Egypt
1919–1925
Succeeded by
Sir George Lloyd
Academic offices
Preceded by
Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
1935–1936
Succeeded by
Herbert John Clifford Grierson
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Allenby
1919–1936
Succeeded by
Dudley Allenby