Topic: BatzP - Surafend
Surafend, the massacre
Palestine, 10 December 1918
The following is a transcription of a letter written by Ambrose Stephen Mulhall (3180 Private Ambrose Stephen MULHALL) to Senator Sir George Pearce and dated 19 July 1936. The letter itself is almost illegible but the following has been extracted. The use of the "???" indicates a word or phrase that could not be deciphered.
The Right Honourable Senator Sir George Pearce.
I desire to ask if you would be good enough to furnish me with a copy of the report which was made to you at that time as responsible Minister (Minister for Defence) relative to the Bedouin massacres in Palestine in December, 1918.
On the Sunday following General Allenby addressed the remnant of the Division and accused us all and sundry of being a lot of cold-blooded murderers and cowards. Later Allenby went to England and in a speech at Dover said, among other things, the Australian Light Horsemen were no other than a lot of murderers and cowards. This part of his speech was cabled to Australia and published in the Sydney Sun newspaper.
I was one of those encamped in that area at the time and saw Sergeant Lawry the New Zealander buried. I also heard the rifle shots that night. The following morning at 7 a.m. I was at the Bedouin village which was then a mass of ruins: every hut had been fired. I counted the dead and made a general observation of the whole affair. I was astounded at seeing so many with their heads battered. It did not appear to be the work of ??? soldiers being an experience man in crime and its detection here I had been member of the NSW Mounted and from which I had resigned to enlist for War Service.
I decided there and then to go right into the whole matter, the whole thing was so inhuman the way they had been done to death and ??? this is the result of my investigations. In the first place it was the New Zealanders' affair and it was a New Zealand soldier who had been murdered by a Bedouin. This led up to the killing after the funeral of Lowry. On the Monday evening a meeting was held near the Bedouin Village. It was decided to raid the village that night and get Lowry's murderer. They also decided to send a dispatch rider around to the various camps in that area for re-enforcements. It was december and ??? at 6 p.mp. Shortly after the despatch rider had left on his mission he became confused with the light of the numerous camps he corrected his way and returned to the village ???? He had visited the Tommys Artillery Camp and informed them. Artillerymen are not issued with rifles. The Tommys decided to join the New Zealanders in full force and having no rifles they decided and which they did took iron bludgeons to the village. Ten minutes were given the Bedouins to hand over the Bedouin murderers of Segt Lowry. But this the Bedouin ??? refused. All women and children under the age of 16 were removed from the village and placed under guard on the hillside ??? outback. Then the mad frenzy commenced. The New Zealanders used their rifles and the Tommys using their bludgeons bashin and battering the Natives to death. There was only three regiments of Australians encamped in that area at the time: the 1st ALH, 3rd ALH and 6th ALH Regiments. The Australians were not present there that night, they did not know there was any trouble taking place in the village that night. I was engaged for some days in these investigations and I say definitely.
Official enquiry was held during that week. I never had an opportunity, either secretly or otherwise tell Allenby that it was his cold-blooded Pommy and ??? who did the massacre. Allenby hated us Australians and he put his spite on to us.
Sir Henry Gullett in his book says Lowry chased the Bedouin through the sandhills. There no sandhills within three miles of the spot where Lowry was shot. He also says guards were placed around the village that night and all next day which was all ??? Nothing was done until after the ???? the following evening.
Now Mr. Geo says he presided over a court of enquiry and that ample proofs were given that the Australians were there in large numbers. At the same time Mr. Bell strictly avoids mentioning what units they belonged to, but he cannot escape.
I said then that New Zealanders were foolish taking those Pommies ??? in that they ???
Now the last lying statement of Allenby involves 50,000 Australians. Are you prepared to allow your own countrymen to be condemned like this? Years I have been working to clear the stigma from us; the time has not been opportune. I tried ??? when Allenby was in Australia ???
Trusting you will supply me with a copy of that report.
(signed) A.S. MULHALL
Fomerly 3180 Private Ambrose Stephen MULHALL, 1st LHR.
Citation: Surafend, the massacre, Palestine, 10 December 1918, Mulhall Account