BILL THE BASTARD BY ROLAND PERRY
CHAPTER 24 “THE RUSE”
Chauvel’s ruse had worked. The Turks believed that the cavalry/Light Horse thrust would be in the east and not the west. Captured enemy intelligence maps as late as 10 am on 18 September, the day of the Jericho Cup meeting, showed that the Australian mounted division and British cavalry were still thought to be at the base in Jericho, close to where the Cup race was held.
Learning this, Chauvel decided now was the time to strike.
Darkness turned the lazy country side east of Jaffa into a seething mass of movement under moonlit skies. The artillery, cars, men, horses, camels and mules brought up to the front in the last few hours jammed every thoroughfare going north. Silence was imposed, although the creaking of wagons, purr of lorries, crunch of boots on metallic roads and the odd groan of the camels and whinnying of the horses could not be avoided.
The moon set at 4 am on 19 September 1918 as British troops made their last-minute adjustments to weapons and gear. A half-hour later they attacked on a thirteen-kilometre front in from the coast and confronted the Turks less than two kilometres away. They breached enemy lines and the cavalry and Light Horse rode through the gap.
Chauvel’s force galloped eighty kilometres on 19 September and took a key Turkish communications centre and rail junction at El Afule. He just missed capturing the senior German commander Liman von Sanders, who had been behind the Turkish stand at Gallipoli and was now running the two Turkish armies in Palestine. He escaped the town of Nazareth in his pyjamas, chauffeured out in a Mercedes.
The Turks were in disarray and on the run north-west with Chauvel’s horsemen in hot pursuit.
(end of chapter)
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