Topic: BatzP - Surafend
Surafend, the massacre
Palestine, 10 December 1918
The following account of Surafend was published in the Adelaide Advertiser, 22 December 1919, at page 12.
THE SURAFEND INCIDENT.
A NEW ZEALAND ACCOUNT.
Wellington, December 19.
With reference to General Ryrie's cabled comment on the New Zealanders' responsibility for the Surafend incident, a New Zealand soldier protests against General Ryrie fastening the blame on the New Zealanders. He says General Ryrie should have protested to Lord Allenby on the day the latter called his men "a pack of cowards and murderers." If he thought the Australians were not blameworthy General Ryrie should, in fairness to them, have resigned, as the only course left to a soldier and a gentleman. The soldier says native pilferers made camp life unbearable. A New Zealand machine gunner felt his kit being pulled from under him at dead of night. He jumped up and was shot dead by a native who presumably escaped to a near-by village. This was the culminating point of the men's sufferings in the hands of the thieves. General Chaytor, commanding the Anzac Division at the time, was absent. The men formed a committee, which requested headquarters to take prompt action to avenge the New Zealander's death and stop the Bedouin thieving. Had headquarters told the committee what was being done to remedy matters all would have been well, but nothing happened and the men decided that the village must be burnt. Less than half the New Zealand Brigade participated in the reprisals. No arms were taken - only pick handles and sticks - the idea being to get the women and children out, thrash every male Arab, and, if necessary, hold the Sheiks to ransom until the murderer was given up. The news leaked out and instead of a few hundred colonials there were thousands of soldiers, representing Great Britain and the Antipodes. Some of the natives showed fight, and about 30 males were killed. The women and children were removed before the fight started. Some days later Lord Allenby had the division paraded and said, "There was a time when I was proud of you men of the Anzac Mounted Division. Today I think you are nothing but a lot of cowards and murderers."
Citation: Surafend, the massacre, Palestine, 10 December 1918, Advertiser Account