Battle of Junction Station, 13-14 November 1917

The battle of Junction Station, 13-14 November 1917, saw the British defeat a Turkish attempt to defend the line of the railway to Jerusalem. The centre of that line was Junction Station, where the line from Jerusalem joined the main north-south line. East of Junction Station the Turkish line ran almost alongside the railway, but ran through hilly country unsuitable for the British cavalry. West of Junction Station the line ran west to the villages of El Mughar and Katrah, on either side of the Wadi Jamus, and then turned north.

General Allenby decided to turn the Turkish right flank. XXI corps would attack south of Katrah, along the line of the main road from Gaza to Junction Station. On their left the Yeomanry and Anzac Cavalry Divisions would attack to their left, from El Mughar to the north.

The advance began at 7 a.m. on 13 November. After pushing back Turkish outposts, the advance became stuck at around 10 a.m. Both the 52nd Division, attacking Katrah and El Mughar, and the cavalry further north, came to a halt in front of strongly located defences.

The key to the British victory was a dramatic cavalry charge at El Mughar. At 2.30 pm it was decided to use the 6th Mounted Brigade to attack the Turkish lines on the ridge north of the village. Despite having to advance across 3,000 yards of open terrain, the cavalry successfully reached the ridge (Action of El Mughar), and their dismounted reserve captured the village itself.

To their right Katrah was eventually captured by the 52nd Division. The next day, 14 November, the 75th Division captured Junction Station, cutting the Turkish rail link to Jerusalem. By the end of the next day, the British had captured Ramleh and Ludd on the railway line north, and had advanced east to Latron.

The Turkish armies were now split in two. The Eighth Army, under Kress von Kressenstein, was on the coast, protecting the railway north, while the Seventh Army was isolated at Jerusalem. All supplies had to come over poor roads from Nablus, forty miles to the north, or from Amman, on the Hejaz Railway, fifth miles to the east. However, their position around Jerusalem was a strong one, protected by the difficult ground of the Judean Mountains. Allenby’s first attempt to capture Jerusalem, would grind to a halt in those hill (battle of Nebi Samwil).  

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 September 2007), Battle of Junction Station, 13-14 November 1917 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_junction_station.html

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