“Last Trek to Beirut – from breakthrough at Medjel Yaba to Beirut.”
The three Brigades of 54 Division held their positions to the south through the spring and early summer of 1918, and the stronghold of Medjel Yaba was taken in September of that year. The Brief Record documents the ruin of Sirisia taken by 163 Brigade on 19th September, with 600 prisoners and 11 guns taken.
Early October saw the Division advance to Haifa, continuing the march north to Beirut at the end of the month. My grandfather has noted in the margins of the Brief Record: “as the 161 Brigade ambulance had to remain at Haifa, a small number of men (self included) were detailed from 163 Ambulance (including me) with 2 MO’s to accompany the 161 Brigade from Haifa to Beirut.”
The Brief Record notes that 54 Division marched through Beirut on 31st October 1918, at the hour Turkish hostilities ceased.
All of the the following photographs were taken by Harry Belson, or with his camera, and captions, where present, are as noted by him.
The Turkish Light Railway crossing a hill stream. This was on the coast, the hills running right down to the sea, the road hewn a ledge out along the rock. The scenery was fine. I find this is the famous “Dog River”.
The coastal town now more commonly spelt “Juniya” or “Jounieh”. Modern photographs show how dramatically the townscape has changed in front of the distinctive hillside backdrop.
Arrival in Beirut marked the end of the War and the end of my grandfather’s long trek north through Egypt and Palestine. Another marginal note in the Brief Record reads: “54 Division – November – Embarked at Beirut & proceeded to Suez and then to Cairo to deal with rioting in Egypt.”
© Paul Barham, May 2018