April 2nd 1921

Battle of Megiddo, 19-25 September 1918

This is an account of the Battle of Megiddo, which led to the taking of Damascus, heralding the armistice in Palestine on October 31st 1918. It is written by Major John Hutchison DSO, only recently returned from active service, and will be included in the forthcoming edition of ‘The Draconian’.

“It was my good fortune to be in temporary command of my regiment, the (King George’s Own) Central India Horse when it passed though Lejun (Megiddo of the Bible) and entered the historic plain of Esdraelon at dawn on September 20th 1918… when my thoughts were diverted by the sight of some fifty dead and dying Turks through which we rode.

Our advanced guard, consisting of the 2nd Lancers (Indian Army) had charged a Turkish regiment hurrying up to block the Musmur Pass at Lejun, and this was the result, in addition to some hundreds of prisoners. I had never before seen a man killed by a lance and it was a sickening sight – for most of the Turks had been terror-struck by the yelling horsemen and the flashing lance points before they were ‘done in,’ and showed it on their faces…

4th Cavalry Division advance: El Lajjun (Lejun) to Beisan

During the afternoon of the 20th September we reached Beisan (Bethshan of the Bible), thus completing roughly eighty miles in something over thirty hours. Beisan is in the Jordan Valley and to get there we rode through the valley of Jezreel…

During 21st and 22nd September thousands of Turks, driven along by our infantry and planes, fell into our hands. Some made desperate attempts to cross the Jordan, but the bridgeheads were held by cavalry. Mostly they surrendered quietly when they found they had no chance of re-forming to face their pursuers…

A Turkish officer of the 1st Turkish Cavalry actually brought three Turkish ladies (the wives of officers) with the regiment. They were mounted on ponies (astride) and wore high-heeled shoes and silk stockings – their faces were veiled and one of them had her child of four or so perched in front of her. The poor creatures had been bundled on to the ponies at Nablus and had ridden till they were exhausted, rather than be left behind among the hostile Arabs, who were beginning to hang on to the retreating Turks like vultures…

Our next move was to the railway bridge over the Jordan at Jisr Mejamieh, seven miles south of the Lake of Galilee…

The 10th Cavalry Brigade, of which we were part, then crossed over to the east bank in order to pursue the 4th Turkish Army, which having been on the east side of the Jordan was saved from the disaster which overtook the Turkish armies on the West Bank and was still a fighting force. We bumped into their rearguard, 5000 strong, which stood to fight at Irbid – we had marched  thirty-six miles and had only an hour of daylight left.

One squadron of 2nd Lancers got a severe mauling, some twenty men killed; and the squadron commander stopped about six machine-gun bullets… This affair was undecided when darkness intervened.

The following day we caught a weak Turkish rearguard, and the Central India Horse charged with the lance, capturing the Turkish position between Er Remte and Deraa, and the Dorset Yeomanry took Er Remte village and about sixteen machine-guns.

At Deraa we joined hands with the Hedjaz Army, or Shereefians as they are called… commanded by the Emir Feisal, who had Colonel Lawrence and several British officers with him. One of these British officers was pursued and threatened by one of our Sikh sowars, who seeing a white man in Arab head-dress jumped to the conclusion that he was a German masquerading as an Arab and took a deal of persuading to the contrary.

I was appalled at the brutal way in which the Shereefians treated their Turkish prisoners – who were mostly stripped half naked and were kept without water and food. I was told that this was done because the retreating Turks had wiped out a village near Deraa, men, women and children. Altogether I was not impressed by our Hedjaz allies…

We continued our march from Deraa to Damascus and ultimately struck the Serb El Haj or pilgrims’ route from Mecca to Damascus…

The 4th Cavalry Division halted two miles to the south of Damascus to allow Fiesal with his troops and Arab riff-raff to enter the city first. One would have imagined by the sound of the firing that a general massacre was proceeding after their entry – but it was merely the frolicsome habit of every Arab armed with a rifle to do rapid fire every ten minutes or so to show how pleased he was…

After Damascus the Spanish ‘flu played havoc with the Division, which had been severely strained by being kept in the Jordan Valley during the summer – one of our officers died of it, and about thirty men…

The ten Indian cavalry regiments all hoped to go to India after the Armistice, since they had been in France since 1914 till the beginning of 1918 – but they were not destined to leave Palestine till 1921…”

Of the 600 men of the Central India Horse who had departed India on November 10th 1914, only 150 boarded the ship at Suez when they left for home on February 2nd 1921.

2 thoughts on “April 2nd 1921

  1. Lucy London War Poets says:

    That is fascinating – thank you so much. Best wishes from Lucy

    On Fri, Apr 2, 2021 at 9:51 AM The Skipper’s War wrote:

    > dpdevitt posted: ” This is an account of the Battle of Megiddo, which led > to the taking of Damascus, heralding the armistice in Palestine on October > 31st 1918. It is written by Major John Hutchison DSO, only recently > returned from active service, and will be included in” >

    Like

Leave a Reply to Lucy London War Poets Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s