2/4/1917 London orders an advance on Jerusalem

Britain’s General Murray has successfully cleared the Turks from the Sinai but when he tried to advance into Palestine he came a cropper. This did not stop him from sending a report back to London that made his defeat at Gaza sound like victory, exaggerating Turkish losses and claiming an advance of some 15 miles. These reports were then trumpeted in the British press as a great triumph.

Now Robertson, the British chief of staff in London, calls Murray’s bluff. He sends Murray orders stating that in view of his successes and those of Maude in Mesopotamia, the time is right to hit the Turks hard. He is ordered to press on forthwith into southern Palestine and then on to Jerusalem.

So Murray begins preparations for a new attack on Gaza. His men are uneasy, knowing that despite what they are reading in the newspapers the first attack was a failure. As if to ram the point home, enemy aircraft are dropping propaganda leaflets telling the unvarnished truth: “You beat us at communiqués, but we beat you at Gaza”.

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