The Road to Nablus, Christmas Eve 1917.

Monday, 24 December, 1917
Allenby Jerusalem 1917
General Allenby listening to the reading of the Proclamation of Occupation from the steps at the base of the Tower of David (El Kala, the Citadel) Jerusalem, 11 December 1917.

At the beginning of December 1917, both the the 2nd and the 5th/6th Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers moved up to the front near Beit Sura to the north-west of Jerusalem. The Turks had withdrawn from the Holy City and General Allenby's forces entered the city on 9 December. The public at home had their 'Christmas Present' from Allenby when he entered the city on foot on 11 December.

Before General Allenby could launch his force astride the road to Nablus, with the 10th (Irish) Division on the left, he had to improve the tracks leading to the front. Both the 2nd and the 5th/6th Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers spent the period leading up to Christmas building these tracks and roads. They completed their task on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1917.

AllenbyTo their dismay, torrential rain on Christmas Day ensured that they suffered a most wretched day; not only did the rain wash away the new road surfaces, but the water formed a raging torrent which swept through the wadi where they had pitched their bivouacs. The Faughs lost large quantities of stores, equipment and tentage. Furthermore, owing to the rain, the supply depot was unable to send forward the mail, turkeys and Christmas puddings. The only good news was that the imminent counter-attack by the Turks was held up by the same bad weather and their attack came after Christmas on the morning of 27 December.

(Left, General Allenby GCB GCMG, CinC Egyptian Expeditionary Force (Image © IWM (Q 82969))