A Little-known Battle in the Jordan Valley: Abu Tellul

(continued)

Musallabeh was a rough and stony knoll about 400 feet high marking the extreme northern point of the British occupation on the western side of the Jordan Valley. It formed the apex of a British salient around the Wady Auja. South-east from Musallabeh stood another rocky outcrop known as The Bluff.

 

About 1,000 yards South of Musallabeh, deep ravines divided the posts of Vale, View, Vaux, Zoo and Zeiss. Behind these posts rose the harsh, stony ridge of Abu Tellul that was considered to be the key to the whole Northern sector. Abu Tellul commanded the indispensable source of fresh water – the Wady Auja – and British batteries were located south of the Abu Tellul crest to cover the area. The Turkish lines lay less than a mile North of the British Line which was shelled daily from the North and from the Eastern bank of the Jordan Valley.

 

From 1st – 16th July, 1918 the 1st Light Horse Brigade (1st, 2nd and 3rd L.H. Regiments) was situated on the western side of the Jordan Valley in the vicinity of Abu Tellul. The 1st L.H. Regiment was in reserve.

 

On 14th July Trooper Ashton Rhoades of the 1st Light Horse Regiment wrote home:

 

 Map of the Jordan Valley (Scale 1cm = 3.3 miles) [5]

When I last wrote we [the 1st L.H.Regiment] were in reserve, the 2nd and 3rd L.H. Regiments being entrenched ... being in reserve is considered the worst job of the lot for you have all the discomfort without the chance of getting one in on Abdul ...  the most depressing sight is the sick “procession” ... an average of 50 cases a week for our Regiment, one week it was 83, relapsing fever and valley-malaria .... hostile aircraft (not Taubes as we get used to those) millions of flies and mosquitoes  ... we have nets but lots of minute beasts of prey get under them ... scorpions, deadly snakes and the “horned viper” a venomous devil has sent some of the A.L.H. to their long home. This is the place Satan offered to Christ ... The Valley of Death. The “whiz-bangs”[77m/m shells] and “coal boxes” [howitzers] come over good and plenty and don’t let us alone even at night.

The other morning [8am 1st July] we got a reveille in the shape of a tornado of shrapnel but they only killed eight horses and wounded three men in our squadron and nobody was touched in “B” squadron. Seventy horses stampeded as the shells burst amongst them but all were recovered. [4]

 

Shelling from the direction of the Jordan continued throughout the month, chiefly on the bivouac area, horse lines and water troughs with 77m/m guns – “whiz-bangs” – killing and injuring men and horses. On 13th July enemy shelling increased in intensity and night patrols reported that a body of around 1,000 German troops were advancing from the waddies 1,000 yards in front of View and Vale.