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Jerusalem December 1917 - Flag of surrender & key of the city


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#1 Eran

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 11:15 AM

Hi everyone,



Lately I have been taking an 'In-Depth' look into the Jerusalem events of late 1917 and came over dozens of puzzling Questions - I'll try to share and explore them together with you and so I intend to open several new different topics over the next few days.



First one is regarding the flag(s) used by the surrendering party of Jerusalem on December 9th. Several sources claim there were two flags, but the "official" version (Supported by the famous photo with the Sergeants) relates to one flag.

I've read that it was collected later that day from the field by General Watson and kept for him by a member of the American Colony. I also read that later the flag made it's way to the IWM – How did it get there and does anyone have a recent photo of the flag?



Second issue is the 'Keys of Jerusalem'. Now that is a bit tricky one – In the photo that show the keys today at the 'The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum' we see two keys, which brings up two questions:

  • As the keys were handed over (eventually) to General Shea, how did they make their way to the hands of Col. Roowell (Who is he?) and from him to the Museum?
  • As the walled old city of Jerusalem has 5 gates that may be closed (Jaffa, Damascus, Flowers, Lions, Zion) plus two that cannot be closed (Dung Gate & New Gate) – Does anyone know what these two keys are?
Thanks,


Eran



#2 michaeldr

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 03:19 PM

•As the keys were handed over (eventually) to General Shea, how did they make their way to the hands of Col. Roowell (Who is he?) and from him to the Museum?

Eran,

A part of the answer to your above question is found in post #11 here
http://1914-1918.inv...wtopic=88077
The keys were surrendered to the London Regiment, which was later absorbed into the RWK Regiment

While I have no information as to which actual keys were surrendered, if I may take a guess, then I would say that they were those of the Jaffa Gate. This was the main entry point at that time, witness its previous use by the German Emperor on his visit

Regarding a recent photograph of the flag: there is portion of it shown on page 116 of 'The Changing Land between the Jordan & the sea' by Benjamin Z. Kedar and his photographic index indicates that the picture was taken by him, suggesting it is a recent picture


regards
Michael

#3 michaeldr

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 04:54 PM

Eran,

One further thought
you do not say to which photograph of the keys it is that you are refering
If it is that which was posted by Charles Fair on page 2 (post #32) of the other thread
then perhaps a PM to Charles may get you the true details re the Colonel and how the keys came to be where they are today

Good luck
Michael

#4 Eran

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 09:35 PM

Thanks Michael,



Yes, I'm aware to the details regarding 2/20 London, but on the other hand – We do find details of how important it was for General Shea to be and to be known as THE General that Jerusalem surrendered before. I would thought that he would make sure that the keys that were handed to him by the Jerusalem Mayor would be kept with a connection to Shea's name (Actually the keys were handed over to General Watson earlier, but Watson handed them back to the Mayor to be represented to General Shea).



As far as the cooks story – You know how many arguments were made over the years on this topic, as can be seen even in the thread you mentioned. As one of the friend's mentioned there – It's quite problematic to seriously consider that two soldiers will walk forward to look for water without carts etc.



About the Flag – Is there a way to receive a photo from the IWM?



Chag Sameach,



Eran



#5 centurion

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 11:23 PM

Many cities had (and still do have) ceremonial keys which didn't actually fit any specific gate. Indeed some still have keys long after any gates have long since vanished into the mists of time.

#6 michaeldr

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 01:26 PM

Yes, I'm aware to the details regarding 2/20 London, but on the other hand – We do find details of how important it was for General Shea to be and to be known as THE General that Jerusalem surrendered before. I would thought that he would make sure that the keys that were handed to him by the Jerusalem Mayor would be kept with a connection to Shea's name (Actually the keys were handed over to General Watson earlier, but Watson handed them back to the Mayor to be represented to General Shea).

As far as the cooks story – You know how many arguments were made over the years on this topic, as can be seen even in the thread you mentioned. As one of the friend's mentioned there – It's quite problematic to seriously consider that two soldiers will walk forward to look for water without carts etc.

About the Flag – Is there a way to receive a photo from the IWM?

Chag Sameach,

Eran


Eran,

The story about the cooks going looking for water can be accepted at face value. How much water they wanted all depends on what and for whom it was required. It may have been only required for the breakfasts of a few men, and then no cart would be needed.

The detail of the cooks is confirmed by Woodward in his 'Forgotten Soldiers of the First World War' (published by Tempus, in 2006; ISBN 0 7524 3854 9). He also mentions the sergeants, the two artillery officers and Lt-Col Bayley, etc, etc, etc. Woodward's writing is based upon "...the diary and letter of December 10, 1917, (held at) IWM, Bayley MSS 86/9/1; and diary, IWM, Chipperfield MSS 75/76/1."

The story of the surrender became complicated because it did not happen at one time and in one place. The events became protracted and involved various people at various locations. Each time an observer may have been mistaken into thinking that the episode which he saw was the only genuine surrender and he may have in good faith, reported it as such.

Although I have not seen the IWM documents myself, I am quite prepared to accept that if they where written just 24 hours after the events, by someone who was actually involved, then they are as accurate as we can expect.

After the cooks, the sergeants and the artillery officers, then "At this point, Lieutenant Colonel H. Bayley, the commander of the 303rd Brigade RFA, 60th Division, appeared on the scene. 'Arriving at the top of the road within sight of the Jewish Hospital in Jerusalem and with my 3 battery commanders I was amazed to see a white flag waving and a man coming towards me. I beckoned him on and speaking in French he said the Mayor of Jerusalem was at the flag... We sat on chairs on the road outside the Jewish Hospital and he informed me the Turks had left Jerusalem during the night retreating toward Jericho...'"

Bayley sent a message to 60th Divisional HQ., and then Brigadier General Watson arrived on the scene. Bayley and Watson went to the Jaffa Gate, where they were joined by General Shea: the latter, "unhappy that he had been upstaged by Watson, repeated the surrender ceremony, only to be informed by Allenby that the honor of receiving the surrender belonged to him."

Centurion is quite correct in reminding us that as often as not, the 'keys' of a city are merely symbolic, and do not in fact fit any real lock.

Regarding the picture of a portion of the flag to which I refered previously; as soon as I can re-connect my scanner (hopefully, later today) then I will see if I can get a copy to you


Shana Tova
Michael

#7 michaeldr

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 06:59 PM

Eran,

Regarding the picture of a portion of the flag to which I refered previously; as soon as I can re-connect my scanner (hopefully, later today) then I will see if I can get a copy to you


Eran,

I've just had a run of very bad luck (not to say Very Expensive!)
In short, I have just had to replace the hardware here and am now back on line after being 'out of touch' for nearly a week
Please excuse me, but it will take some time to load up stuff and get used to the new machine
I hope to be able to let you have the scan of Kedar's picture in due time

regards
Michael

#8 Eran

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 04:53 PM

Thanks Michael. Good luck with the new hardware!

Eran,

I've just had a run of very bad luck (not to say Very Expensive!)
In short, I have just had to replace the hardware here and am now back on line after being 'out of touch' for nearly a week
Please excuse me, but it will take some time to load up stuff and get used to the new machine
I hope to be able to let you have the scan of Kedar's picture in due time

regards
Michael



#9 michaeldr

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 01:52 PM

Eran,

once again my apologies for the delay here (my scanner is still not properly sorted out, but I hope that this will help)
With acknowledgement to Benjamin Z. Kedar; the author's own photograph (and his copyright).

Posted Image

See page 116 of 'The Changing Land between the Jordan & the Sea' by Benjamin Z. Kedar, published by the MoD & Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Press, 1999,
ISBN 965-05-0975-5. If you have not got this book already then I recommend it most highly
Kedar gives as a translation of the script on the flag:
"The Mayor of Jerusalem the Noble Hussein Hashem al-Husseini, 9 December 1917.”

quote from your first post above: I've read that it was collected later that day from the field by General Watson and kept for him by a member of the American Colony.
It is my understanding that the Mayor's white flag was a bed sheet taken from a hospital run by the American, Bertha Spafford Vester. This may account for it possibly having been returned to that lady later in the day.

Posted Image

You will also notice that in the well known photograph, the flag appears to be unadorned and without any inscription. Exactly when the inscription was put on and when the flag reached the hands of the IWM, I cannot say

best regards
Michael

#10 centurion

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 02:32 PM

in the well known photograph,

The sergeant was further immortalised in the same pose on a cigarette card in a Uniforms of the Territorial Army series

#11 michaeldr

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 06:07 PM

The sergeant was further immortalised in the same pose on a cigarette card in a Uniforms of the Territorial Army series


Which one, Sergeant F. G. Hurcomb or Sergeant J. Sedgwick?

#12 centurion

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 06:11 PM

Which one, Sergeant F. G. Hurcomb or Sergeant J. Sedgwick?

The one standing between the guy in the ridiculous trousers and the man with the stick (the Mayor?).

#13 Eran

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 12:08 AM

Hi Michael, Centurion and everyone,



Over the years I've spent quite some time on the issue of the complicated process of the surrender of Jerusalem. Let's go step by step which means – quite a few posts...



I'll start with the cooks – The official statement was (Quote from "A brief record of The Advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force" published 1919):



Note on the surrender of Jerusalem



Before the arrival of the flag of truce on Dec. 9 the movement of crowds accompanying it had been observed and reported by patrols, but definite news of the impending surrender was first actually communicated to British soldiers by civilians, who informed Pte. H.E. Church and Pte. R.W.J. Andrews of the 2/20 Battalion London Regiment. These men, who advanced into the outskirts of Jerusalem in order to obtain water, reported what had been told to them without meeting the flag of truce.



Now, we know that quite a few sources claim otherwise, that the cooks met the surrendering delegation, but didn't understand or refused to accept anything. Is it possible that someone thought it inappropriate that the delegation first met two cooks lost in the morning fog? I can't prove that (And probably we'll never will) but I tend to think that this is the case. By the way – I don't know from any other source of crowds accompanying the Mayor and the delegation. Knowing what happened during that night in Jerusalem (Shelling, Turkish retreat that lasted till 7 a.m.) I find it quite hard to believe there were crowds accompanying it that could be observed and reported by patrols. I don't have access to war diaries of 180th brigade and/or its battalions, but it would interesting to find out a report that supports that statement.



Support to the idea that the 'surrender' to the two lost cooks searching for water or eggs didn't seem appropriate at the time and someone was trying to "shape' things a bit may be found in the fact that the version in the Official History published over a decade later gives a different version (Military Operations Egypt & Palestine, From June 1917 to the end of the War, Part I / Cyril Falls / 1930 – Page 252):



The Surrender of Jerusalem



"… The first to encounter the Mayor and his party appear to have been Privates H.E. Church and R.W.J. Andrews, mess cooks of the 2/20 London, who had lost their way during the night and wandered about in search of water till they reached the suburbs about 5 a.m. Here they met a crowd of civilians who informed them that the city desired to surrender. Not feeling themselves to be equal to the occasion, they returned to their battalion. The next British soldiers to meet the party – which was now displaying a flag of truce – were Sergeants …"



It seems to me, that as the story of the lost cooks didn't disappear, the BOH from 1930 gives this version which already accepts that the cooks got lost and did meet the Mayor, but still tries to 'soften' it a bit, by hinting that no flag of truce was displayed.





Two more issues regarding the cooks – Were they looking for water or eggs? The second one - When did the cooks meet the Mayor?



Michael, you wrote me:



"The story about the cooks going looking for water can be accepted at face value. How much water they wanted all depends on what and for whom it was required. It may have been only required for the breakfasts of a few men, and then no cart would be needed."



I doubt the story of looking for water. The idea of searching for eggs is so ridiculous that it actually sounds right to me. There was absolutely no need to send people for water in that general direction (East) – It was raining in buckets over the pervious day and a half. There was no shortage of water just behind the front line – in the villages of Deir-Yassin or Kolonia. Knowing that area very well, I tell you the 'Water-Story' just doesn't sound right. However, the story of searching for eggs sounds as bad as surrendering Jerusalem to two lost cooks. Another good reason to try to 'silence' it…



The time quoted in the BOH sounds strange as well. On one hand, it makes sense as it is still fairly dark at this hour, and the lost cooks still won't know their way around. On the other hand, this time, 5 a.m., contradicts some facts and even simple logic. First, several sources claim that the Sergeant's meet the Mayor a very short time after meeting the cooks, and the time quoted for that is just before 8 a.m. So, what happened during the 3 long hours between 5 and 8? Second – the Turkish forces were withdrawing till 7 a.m. and some strollers even later. Even though the Turks would probably have withdrawn the Western suburbs of Jerusalem first – It doesn't make sense that anyone, not to mention crowds, would be out there at that time. Third – Bertha Spafford Vester, from the American Colony of Jerusalem, describers in her book that the Mayor arrived at their place that night/early morning twice – Once by the order of the Turkish Governor of Jerusalem in the middle of the night and the second time, "…When we were having breakfast…", and called the photographer Larson to join him as he is going to hand the city to the British. From the American Colony they headed to the Italian Hospital and took from there a white pillow-cover which was split and was to be used as the flag of truce.



Add all these things together, plus the route from the American Colony, through the Italian Hospital and to the area where the surrendering attempts were made (Less than an hour) and one must come to the conclusion that the Mayor had to start is quest for British soldiers around 6.30-7 a.m. and therefore couldn't meet the cooks earlier. I don't have any idea how to solve this contradiction.



Looking forward for comments including any additional details I'm unaware of.



Eran





#14 centurion

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:22 AM

Eran

The account you quote doesn't mention the cooks meeting the Mayor - merely a crowd.

#15 Eran

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 08:16 AM

Eran

The account you quote doesn't mention the cooks meeting the Mayor - merely a crowd.



Hi Centurion and everyone,



I've been away for a few days, so I was unable to respond earlier. My apologies.





Of course you are right – The BHO doesn't give a clear statement. The quote starts: "… The first to encounter the Mayor and his party appear to have been Privates H.E. Church and R.W.J. Andrews, mess cooks of the 2/20 London…"



And a few lines later: Here they met a crowd of civilians who informed them that the city desired to surrender…". Here the Mayor is already not mentioned.



Now all this looks quite odd. This is the BHO, supposed to be the most reliable source. True, we do find many mistakes while comparing names of places, some dates and fine details of movements. Some events are not described at all - probably seemed to Cyril Falls to 'small', but altogether, I think we can agree that for the general description of the war in this theatre – It is the most important and reliable source. Coming back to the surrender of Jerusalem, which is considered one of the most important events of the war (From a Political & Moral point and defiantly not Military), it is strange to find such a vague description in a official book from ten years after the war.



I still believe that some officials didn't feel comfortable with the story of the cooks (And eggs…) and tried to ignore it first, and when that didn't work - to minimize it later. We probably will never prove this, unless an incredible document will surface somewhere…



Anyway, I'd love to hear more comments on this and hopefully I'll be able to pick up some more information from 2/19 London veterans about the sources of their 'Jerusalem Dinner'.


Thanks,

Eran



#16 Charles Fair

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 02:16 PM

The one standing between the guy in the ridiculous trousers and the man with the stick (the Mayor?).

Which I take to be Sgt Hurcomb.

#17 Charles Fair

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 02:33 PM

Eran

Thanks for making sense of the surrender. I can check the 2/19th History, OCA journal and war diary to see if it adds anything to what you already know (I suspect not). One thing intrigues me. We know that sucessively more senior people took the surrender and made it more official. However, I'm intrigued that the two Sgts managed to stick around long enough to be the subject of lots of photos, incl those on the Library of Congress website (taken by the Larson you refer to above?) before the officers turned up. It was their photos that seemed to be used most often by the press.

The 19th Londons had a Jerusalem Dinner throughout the interwar period and for some years after 1945. It was revived as a Jerusalem Luncheon a few years ago by the OCA amd this year will be on 10th December. I believe that the keys will be making an appearance this year.

Charles

#18 Eran

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 05:26 PM

[quote name='Charles Fair' timestamp='1321453999' post='1669658']
Thanks for making sense of the surrender.


Hi Charles,



I think we are quite far yet from 'making sense of the surrender', but at least I hope we will soon be able to put all the questionable points 'on the table'.



The photographer – Hol Lars (Lewis) Larsson was the most important photographer of the renowned photographic division within the American Colony of Jerusalem during the Great War. The Colony's story is fascinating. Look up at the wikipedia site and follow the links:

http://en.wikipedia....lem#Photography



The sergeants – Most of their photos were taken at a later stage (Note difference in dress-code). However, the most famous one is the photo that Michael added on post #9 and that was taken on Dec. 9th 1917, around 8 A.M.



Jerusalem Dinners – It's fantastic (And quite exciting to me, I must add) that these events took place in the past and are revived. I understand that both 2/19 and 2/20 commemorate the Jerusalem events of Dec. 1917. I'd love to know more about the events, the contents (The differences and similarities should be quite interesting) and if possible – photos.



2/19 War Diary and Bttn Book – It should be quite interesting to see the Bttn War Diary for Dec. 7-11, especially the events recorded for the cook's incident. About the book – As my interest is the Palestine campaign, I would like to know how many pages refer to this campaign in various books of the different London battn's – It will be a very big expense to buy them only to find later that only a tiny portion is relevant to me….



The 'Keys of Jerusalem' – I understand the keys are today at the 'The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum'. On the note next to the keys at the museum there's reference to Col. Roowell. As the keys were handed over (eventually) to General Shea, how did they make their way to the hands of Col. Roowell (Who is he?) and from him to the Museum?



2/13 – During studying the activities of the Kensington's on Dec. 7-8 I came across the deeds of a Jewish hero – Captain Kisch. Do you have some info about him? A few days ago I attended the British service on Mount Scopus and saw the grave of a Jewish soldier of the 2/13 who died on Dec. 8, probably at Ein Karim – Private Geffen. Any info about him?



Thanks,



Eran



#19 Eran

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:39 PM

In the meanwhile I found some info about the 2/13 captain I asked about:



Capt. Ernest Royalton Kisch was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during night of Dec. 7-8 and the nights before.



For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. For six nights prior to the advance he reconnoitered the road to be followed by the brigade, and it was due to his efforts that the brigade reached the position of deployment in schedule time. He then led his company to the assault with marked ability and courage in the face of heavy fire, and having gained his objective drove off three hostile counter-attacks with complete success.



A few weeks ago I followed by foot the whole route used that night by the 2/13, leading most of the 179th brigade, 60th Division (London) and the battle area in and around Ein-Karim (Today it is called Ein Karem). What a journey! No doubt, it was a hellish night for those men out there.



More details – E.R. Kisch was born on May 17, 1886 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He married on July 1, 1912 in Hampstead Synagogue, Middlesex and resided in Willesden. He passed away probably in 1962.



If anyone can contribute more I will be grateful (Especially connections with Hampstead Synagogue – I've been there over 25 years ago… Maybe they have some information and/or photos).

Thanks,

Eran







#20 michaeldr

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 08:57 AM

If anyone can contribute more I will be grateful (Especially connections with Hampstead Synagogue – I've been there over 25 years ago… Maybe they have some information and/or photos).


Eran,

You may get some help from the AJEX museum: see http://www.thejmm.org.uk/contact-us

regards
Michael

#21 Eran

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 11:57 AM

You may get some help from the AJEX museum: see http://www.thejmm.org.uk/contact-us





Thanks Michael.

Good idea - forgot about that organization.

Shabbat Shalom

Eran



#22 michaeldr

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 08:32 AM

Capt. Ernest Royalton Kisch was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during night of Dec. 7-8 and the nights before.
&
More details – E.R. Kisch was born on May 17, 1886 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He married on July 1, 1912 in Hampstead Synagogue, Middlesex and resided in Willesden. He passed away probably in 1962.


Eran,

see also http://www.archive.o...00soli_djvu.txt

ERNEST ROYALTON KISCH.

Admitted Dec. 1911. Member of Adler & Perowne, of 46 and 47 London
Wall, E.C. Joined Dec. 1914, as 2nd Lieut., 13th Batt. London Regt., promoted
Lieut. June 1915, Capt. June 1916. Awarded the M.C. Served at Home
1914 to 1916, France June to Dec. 1916, Salonica Dec. 1916 to June 1917,
Palestine June 1917 to March 1919.

regards
Michael

#23 Eran

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 05:21 AM

Thanks Michael.

#24 Eran

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 09:33 AM

Eran

The 19th Londons had a Jerusalem Dinner throughout the interwar period and for some years after 1945. It was revived as a Jerusalem Luncheon a few years ago by the OCA amd this year will be on 10th December. I believe that the keys will be making an appearance this year.

Charles



Hi Charles,

Would it be possible for you to give me some more details regarding the past Jerusalem Dinners and the revived Jerusalem Luncheons? Were the Dinners accompanied with any type of a ceremony? Is there anything ceremonial in the Luncheons (You mentioned that the keys might be showed during the event this year, I believe today)? I'd love to have some photos from the past dinners and revived Luncheons – Any suggestion's how can I obtain some?

About the keys - I understand the keys are today at the 'The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum'. On the note next to the keys at the museum there's reference to Col. Roowell. As the keys were handed over in 1917 to General Shea, how did they make their way to the hands of Col. Roowell (Who is he?) and from him to the Museum?

Thanks,

Eran

#25 COSergeant

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 07:42 AM

Eran,
Details from MAJ Vivian Gilbert's book, Romance of the Last Crusade misspells PVT Church's name as Murch. He also fails to mention PVT Andrews. But, he is a primary source for the tale having been at HQ when the cook returned. He says the cook was sent to the little town of Lifta with 60 piasters to purchase eggs from residents. He set off in the dark and the direction was somewhat opposite Jerusalem. However, the cook was disoriented and didn't know where he was going. At sunrise, he saw that Jerusalem was considerably larger than the small town his Commander had described. Shortly after the sun had risen the mayor and party approached him asking if he knew where General Allenby was. The PVT said he didn't know, but he was only looking for eggs. Shortly afterward, SGTs Hurcomb and Sedgwick were somehow alerted to the surrender and changed places with Church and Andrews. I don't know how that occurred, but that's when the photograph was taken. You can see the long shadows indicating an early morning picture with the sun low on the horizon. If you notice the shadows in front of the group, there are five persons whose heads appear to be wearing native headdress, not pith helmets. The cook, PVT Church, arrived back to HQ some four hours after he left and that is when HQ first understood that Jerusalem had fallen. HQ then phoned higher HQ with the news and there was a scramble between different Generals to receive the keys of surrender.
Mayor Gilbert survived the entire mid-east campaign and wrote his book in 1923 (?). The book is an enjoyable read with quite believable details. Official records have the cook searching for water - which would make sense to readers at home who understood Palestine to be arid. A cook searching for food could create unexpected backlash at the home front or worse- at higher headquarters. Having served in the Army, I know first hand the "careful documentation of events" to cast the most favorable light on the actions of a unit. In some cases, it becomes the subject of official inquiry. I believe the story of the eggs, not of the water.

As for the flag of surrender, I read somewhere (I don't remember where) that it was a bed sheet borrowed from the American Hospital. I was surprised to see the photograph from Benjamin Kedar. The Mayor died of pneumonia shortly after (2-3 weeks) the surrender. I thought the sheet (or linen) was returned to the hospital especially when they expected additional combat.

I hope some of my input has helped your research.
Kevin




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