Topic: AIF - Cars
1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF
THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO
This is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209. This is Part 2.
THE BATTLE OF MEGIDDO - Part 2
The division next pushed on to Beisan about 16 miles east of El Afule where we were promised some sleep. This was sorely needed by the drivers who had been at the wheel for 40 hours without any rest whatever. We discovered that the horseman has a decided advantage over the motor driver in the matter of sleep. The former can nod off and still keep in the saddle as the old horse jogs along and follows the track, but if the motor driver closes his eyes for an instant he will probably crash into a rook or over a cliff. On the way to Beisan we noticed a motor car about half a mile off the road in difficulties. On examining this through the glasses we noticed some man making frantic efforts to get a touring car (that was bogged) out of the mud. We sent a car across and the occupants promptly bolted into the scrub. The car had the German coat of arms painted on the door and it was apparently one of their staff cars. So we hitched a rope on to it and hauled it out with one of our own cars. We found that car very useful and kept it for nearly six months. We used it for carrying extra petrol and baggage about with us on our peregrinations.
The late occupants who took to the hills would probably have had their throats cut by the Arabs who are always ready to murder and rob the under dog. On arriving at Beisan we discovered that there was not to be too much sleep after all. The road from Beisan to Shutta had to be patrolled through the night with cars to take prisoners who were expected to be coming back from the fight that was still going on at part of the enemy's front lines. Our division now had a line about 40 miles long and it was about 30 miles behind the enemy's front lines. The Turks were now in a thorough trap and could not escape any way. Although the road had to be patrolled, we found that a couple of cars could manage it all right and the drivers took one hour shifts so the majority managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep after all. We bivouacked for the night at Beisan but next morning all the cars were required to patrol the roads and collect numerous enemy fugitives who wore more or less demoralised and pouring in from all quarters.
The divisional commander asked us to send a car up to Jesi Mejame, a railways crossing where there is a bridge across the river a few miles south of Lake Tiberias or the Sea of Galilee. A party of engineers was there to mine the Railway bridge and one of the officers had his hand injured with explosives. A car was required to bring him back to Beisan the nearest field ambulance.
It was explained that an armed car was not necessary as the road had been cleared. All our patrol cars were busy on the road in the other direction gathering up prisoners, but we dug up a ration car and one of the drivers who had been having a well earned sleep. A couple of us pushed off as quickly as possible. We found that the road was littered with abandoned transport and broken down vehicles of all descriptions and we frequently were compelled to drive off the road altogether in order to get past these obstructions. We had proceeded several miles on our journey when a loud report seemed to come from under the car. Thinking that one of the tyres had blown out we were slowing down when another report occurred from behind. We discovered that the tyres were all right but the reports were gun shots and as we were the target we decided the best thing was to get a move on. There were growing crops alongside the road and in there were concealed the marksmen. It was impossible to see them so it was no use trying to shoot book at them. Fortunately, they were atrocious shots and they did no damage beyond making us break the speed record.
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Further Reading:The Australian Light Horse - Structure