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ALH Takes Damascus

1 OCT 1918: World War I and Australian Light Horsemen take Damascus. The Light Horse advances into Damascus, the Syrian capital, at the end of the long and victorious advance that ended the First World War in the Middle East. The Capture of Damascus occurred on 1 October after the capture of Haifa and the victory at the Battle of Samakh which opened the way for the pursuit north from the Sea of Galilee and the Third Transjordan attack which opened the way to Deraa and the inland pursuit, after the decisive Egyptian Expeditionary Force victory at the Battle of Megiddo during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I.
Damascus was captured when Desert Mounted Corps and Prince Feisal’s Sherifial Hejaz Army encircled the city, after a cavalry pursuit northwards along the two main roads to Damascus. During the pursuit to Damascus, many rearguards established by remnants of the Fourth, Seventh and Eighth Armies, were attacked and captured. Prince Feisal’s Sherifial Army, Desert Mounted Corps’ Australian Mounted Division the 4th and the 5th Cavalry Divisions. The important tactical success of capturing Damascus resulted in political manoeuvring by representatives from France, Britain and Prince Feisal’s force.

Following the victories at the Battle of Sharon and Battle of Nablus during the Battle of Megiddo, on 25 September, the combined attacks by the XXI Corps, Desert Mounted Corps, the XX Corps supported by extensive aerial bombing attacks, gained all objectives. The Seventh and Eighth Armies in the Judean Hills were forced by the attacks at Tulkarm, and Tabsor to disengage and retreat, in turn forcing the Fourth Army, east of the Jordan River to avoid outflanking by retreating from Amman when they were attacked by Chaytor’s Force. As a consequence of these withdrawals large numbers of prisoners were captured at Jenin while the surviving columns retreated behind a strong rearguard at Samakh.

The commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Edmund Allenby ordered Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel’s Desert Mounted Corps to pursue the remnants of the three Ottoman armies and capture Damascus. The 4th Cavalry Division began the pursuit, attacking rearguards along the inland road at Irbid on 26 September, at Er Remta and Prince Feisal’s Sherifial Army captured Deraa on 27 September. The Australian Mounted Division attacked rearguards along the main road, at Jisr Benat Yakub on 27 September, occupying Quneitra the next day, at Sa’sa’ on 29/30 September, and at Kaukab and the Barada Gorge on 30 September, while the 5th Cavalry Division also attacked a rearguard at Kiswe the same day. Following these successful attacks and advances the 3rd Light Horse Brigade was ordered to move north of Damascus, marching through the city on the morning of 1 October to continue their attack on the retreating columns, cutting the road to Homs. Photo: Australian Light Horsemen, 1918 Damascus. More;


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