Monday, 11 December 2017

Jerusalem Surrenders

At the end of October 1917 Sgt. Thomas Minshall, 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Bn. King's Shropshire Light Infantry, was in Cairo at the Imperial School of Instruction. On 8 December 1917 Thomas Minshall was appointed to a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Bn. Suffolk Regiment.

Jerusalem surrendered on 9 December 1917, and Thomas’ papers include this souvenir photograph of Sir Edmund Allenby’s entry into Jerusalem on 11 December.

It is not known what date Thomas returned from Cairo and joined Suffolk Yeomanry. The movements of the two Regiments he is associated with, at the time of Jerusalem's surrender, are summarised in the following War Diary extracts:

War Diary, 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Bn. King's Shropshire Light Infantry
8 December
Nos. 2 & 4 Coys relieved 25th R.W.F. extending our line to ROMAN ROAD in R35d. Very wet night
9 December From Batt O.P. much enemy movement observed as result of attack on Jerusalem by 20th Corps. ZEITOUN and JOFFIER ridges and RAFAT were seen to be still occupied. Patrol under Sgt. Price entered EL JIB and found enemy had left about 2100 on 8th.
10 December  No.4 Coy were withdrawn into reserve at BEIT IZZA
11 December  2 Coys. 25 R.W.F. were sent to increase Batt. Reserve under Major DUGDALE and were placed one in R34d and one in BEIT IZZA
9-14 December Weather very fine and cold, daily patrols to EL JIB and nightly patrols to N & E. No sign of enemy outside his main position in JOFEIR Ridge which was closely observed from O.P. and was seen to be strongly held by Machine Guns in SANGARS linked up along crest of ridge. These posts were all pointed out to R.A. and noted for future reference.

War Diary, 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Bn. Suffolk Regiment
8 December In accordance with 230th Brigade Order No 30 for the attack on Turkish positions S & S.W. of NEBI SAMWIL, the BN. Left Bivouac area at 0130.

The First objective was some Turkish positions running N. & S. through T.18a T.18.C and T24.a. The Bn. With exception of D. Coy which followed the assaulting Bns as “moppers up” needed in support at T10.b in wadi RUWAI. The position was captured about 0800 and Bn moved up to T17 under rather heavy shell fire & thence to T17.b.

1115 Brigade after 1/2 hour artillery preparation advanced to occupy the attack on EL BURJ. The attack was hung up by very heavy enfilade machine gun fire and the Bn. Moved up to support the left (ie the Norfolks). They also came under the enfilade fire from NEBI SAMWIL. The Brigade was withdrawn slightly to a better line & held an outpost line during the night.
9 December The Sussex were ordered to proceed and occupy high ground N. of BEIT HANINA. Soon after arrival we had orders to return & relieve the 24th Welsh in NEBI SAMWIL arriving to heavy for and rain we missed the guides of the 24th Welsh and they were not relieved unil 0100.
10 December
Orders were received to withdraw Bn, to x roads S.W. of BIDDU for work on roads. As soon as any movement was shown the enemy started shelling heavily without casualties, but the reserve Coy & H.Q. had to remain until after dark. The total casualties during these operations were 1 officer (died of wounds) and 1 (wounded) 8 ORs killed & 47 wounded.
11 & 12 December Bn. employed working on the BIDDU ENAB Rd.

The War Diary for 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Bn. Suffolk Regiment above confirmed that they suffered casualties. Review of Commonwealth War Graves Commission records has identified the following men who appear to be the officer and eight other ranks that died. Additional family background has been researched and added.

At Jerusalem War Cemetery CWGC
No. Rank Name Date
Second Lieutenant George Cecil Henry 09/12/1917 Died of Wounds
Born 1887, Hastings, Sussex. Son of Thomson and Cora Henry. Husband of May Dorothy Henry (nee Norris) of Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire.
45835 Private Arthur James Batcheldor 08/12/1917 Killed in Action
Born 1889, Gravesend, Kent. Son of Arthur and Henrietta Batcheldor. Husband of Kate H. Batcheldor (nee West), of Charlton, London.
320315 Corporal Percy Ernest Cecil Fox 08/12/1917 Killed in Action
Born 1896, Ely, Cambridgeshire. Son of Edmund George and Sarah Fox.
320014 Serjeant Thomas Samuel Smith 08/12/1917 Killed in Action
Born 1883 Hadleigh, Suffolk. Son of James and Sarah Ann Smith.
320396 Private George Unwin 08/12/1917 Killed in Action
Born 1896, Great Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire. Son of William and Charlotte Unwin.
320911 Private Walter Frederick Wiles 08/12/1917 Killed in Action
Born 1881, St Peters, Kent. Son of Thomas and Emma. Husband of Ethel Mary Wiles (nee Wood) of Margate, Kent.
320204 Lance Corporal Harry Charles Lilly 09/12/1917 Died of Wounds
Born 1896, Newmarket, Suffolk. Son of Thomas and Harriet Lilly.
320781 Corporal George William Burrows 10/12/1917 Died of Wounds
Born 1894, Framsden, Suffolk. Son of Jarman William and Angelina Burrows.
320685 Private Jack Birch 11/12/1917 Died of Wounds
Enlistment Place: Ipswich

Cheshire Observer, Saturday, 15 December 1917




Commander-in-Chief of the Army in
Egypt and Palestine, 1917.
Portrait by Francis Dodd, 
official artist with the Navy and Army
Jerusalem has surrendered to the British. This great and historic event took place Sunday as the result of the brilliant operations the forces under General Sir Edmund Allenby, which, by successive steps, swept back the enemy whole line from Beersheba to Jaffa, and gradually encircling the Holy City rendered its further tenure by the Turks impossible.

The news was announced to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was asked by Mr. McKenna “whether he was in a position to give the House any information with reference to Palestine.”

Mr. Bonar Law: General Allenby reports that on the 8th he attacked the enemy’s positions south and west of Jerusalem. Welsh and Home County troops, advancing from the direction of Bethlehem, drove back the enemy, and, passing Jerusalem on the east, established themselves on the Jerusalem Jericho road.

At the same time the London infantry and Dismounted Yeomanry attacked strong enemy positions west and north west of Jerusalem, and established themselves astride the Jerusalem Shechem road.

The Holy City being thus isolated was surrendered to Sir Edmund Allenby by the Mayor on Dec. 9. (Cheers.)

The British Political Officer, together with the British Governor of the City, accompanied British, French, Italian, and Indian Mohammedan Guards, is on his way to safeguard the city and the holy places.

General Allenby proposes to enter the city officially Dec. 11, accompanied by the commanders of the the French and Italian contingents and the head of the French Political Mission.

The capture of Jerusalem has been in some degree delayed in consequence of the great care which has been taken to avoid damage to sacred places in and around the city. (Cheers.)


We are officially informed that the following telegram has been sent by the King to General Sir E. H. H. Allenby:- “The news of the occupation of Jerusalem will be received throughout my Empire with the greatest satisfaction, and I heartily congratulate you and all ranks their success. Such an achievement is a fitting sequel to the hard marching and fighting of the troops, as well as to the organisation by which the difficulties of supply, transport, and water have been overcome. I rejoice to think that by skilful dispositions you have preserved intact the holy place. - (Signed) George R.I.”

SIR EDMUND ALLENBY’S ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM. – The Holy City surrendered to the British on Dec. 9th, and two days later General Allenby – with a few of his staff, the Commanders of the French and Italian detachments, and the Military Attaches of France, Italy, and the United State of America – made his formal entry through the Western (or Jaffa) Gate. The procession entered on foot. (The War Illustrated, 5th January 1918)

ANNOUNCING THE NEW REGIME IN JERUSALEM. – AT noon on Dec. 11th, Sir Edmund Allenby, in command of the victorious Palestinian army, made his official entry into Jerusalem, when in his presence a proclamation was read from the steps of the Citadel “to the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the people in the vicinity.” The proclamation, announcing that holy spots and sacred buildings would be protected, was read in Arabic, Hebrew, English, French, Italian, Greek, and Russian. (The War Illustrated, 26th January 1918)

General Allenby receiving the city notables in the Barrack Square at Jerusalem. The Spontaneous expression of joy on the arrival of the British in the Holy City was touching. They recognised that “Jerusalem Delivered,” the dream of the Italian poet Tasso, had become fact through the might of the British Army. (The War Illustrated, 26th January 1918)

General Sir Edmund Allenby leaving Jerusalem, the scene of his most historic triumph, by the Jaffa Gate. (The War Illustrated, 9th February 1918)

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