WEEKEND WEB: Lutton Vicar reports in from Palestine
This week in 1918, The Vicar of Lutton, the Rev H C Dixon-Spain, who served as a Chaplain with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, wrote to the Free Press from Palestine . . .
“This is just a brief sketch, written under somewhat trying conditions, of our recent victory out here; at least, that part of it which I was actually involved in.
“A few days ago, about midnight, some of our troops attacked and took the first line of Turkish defence before Gaza; my brigade went through them a few minutes later; we passed through a heavy barrage of shell fire and machine gun fire, assaulted and took strong points in their second and third lines, capturing several machine guns, a number of prisoners and any amount of ammunition and other booty.
“Then our worst time began; we had to consolidate and hold these strong points for the next five days, and every day and night were shelled with all kinds of shell, by what are contemptuously (by comparison) called ‘pip squeaks’ and ‘whizz-bangs’ to the heavy stuff whose shattering crash makes you think the world is coming to an end.
“The men were simply gorgeous. Several times the Turks counter-attacked and came over in waves; you could see them coming along nearer than Lutton church is to the Vicarage and then they wavered and broke before our fire.
“After some days, things became too hot for them and fresh troops came through and swept on and now the battle is going on farther up ahead and we are having a well-earned rest from shells and other things that make a noise.
“You will hear the news long before you get this, but up to date, we have captured 70 guns and 8,000 prisoners.
“Gaza, Beersheba and Askalon are ours. I have been into Gaza twice and seen that the Grand Mosque was used as an ammunition dump.”