<– Part 176 – December 2, 1917  | Part 177 – December 9, 1917 |  Part 178 – December 16, 1917 –>

4th Sussex Regiment marching through Bethlehem December 9

Ottoman surrender of Jerusalem

Following the establishment of the Soviets, the new Russian government has called for a ceasefire with Germany, and immediately shifted focus towards suppressing revolts in the former fatherland.

At Cambrai, Haig ordered a partial retreat from the salient on December 3, following the enormous German counter-attack. By the 7th, all British territorial gains had been erased except a small amount in the north – and even this was offset by German gains to the south. In total, each side lost nearly 45,000 men, together with 179 British tanks (out of 476 total). The battle has proven both the power of tanks in taking “impregnable” static defenses, while the German counter-attack has proven the value of both large and trench artillery, with the stormtrooper tactics.

Australian light patrol car – a Ford Model T with mounted machine gun – operating near Bethlehem

Ottoman fighting in the Judean hills has wound down as they have begun their withdrawal. British forces advancing on Bethlehem took Solomon’s Pools on December 7, while heavy rain the following day saw Ottoman forces withdrawing from Jerusalem. The city was surrounded by the British following a final Turkish rearguard action on the Mount of Olives. The Mayor of Jerusalem left the city December 9 with a letter of surrender delivered to two British sergeants on a scouting mission; they refused it and escorted him to Brigadier General C.F. Watson, who accepted it. The letter read,

“Due to the severity of the siege of the city and the suffering that this peaceful country has endured from your heavy guns; and for fear that these deadly bombs will hit the holy places, we are forced to hand over to you the city through Hussein al-Husseini, the mayor of Jerusalem, hoping that you will protect Jerusalem the way we have protected it for more than five hundred years.”

The decree was signed by Izzat, the Mutasarrif of Jerusalem.

On December 7, 1917, the United States declared war on Austria-Hungary.



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