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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

The Valley Of Death

The Valley Of Death.

We call it "The Valley of Death." On either side rise the rocky mountains of Samaria. Yesterday the road ran white and clean from the plains of Sharon past Tulkeram to Nablus. To-day it was blocked with chaotic slaughter. For miles it was littered with smashed and overturned wagons, motors, carts and limbers. Everywhere were killed or maimed horses, cattle, mules, camels and donkeys. And in the wayside gutters, where they had crawled to die, were scores and scores of Turks and Germans. Some cried pitifully for water. Many had ceased to cry.

Most of us had seen death and slaughter before. Some of us had four year of warfare behind us. But none of us will ever forget the day we red- through "The Valley of Death." It sounds anomalous, but I verily believe that the slaughter at Tulkeram and Balata saved hundreds of lives later on. For the havoc wrought by the thunderbolts from the cavalry of the clouds so utterly destroyed the morale of the enemy that, when our horsemen charged later, they surrendered almost without firing a shot.

As we rode over the plain of Sharon we could see the Turkish column, like a huge snake, wind-ind its sinuous way amongst the foothills towards Nablus. And in the air we saw the Australian 'planes, like hawks circling aloft ready to swoop.... Soon a scouting 'plane came back from a reconnaissance and the slaughter began. One after the other the pilots flew eastward, following the course of the Valley, till they reached the head of the doomed column. Then they rained wrack and ruin from the sky. Bomb after bomb crashed with deadly precision on the cavalcade, blocking the road and throwing the retreating army into inextricable confusion. Then the airmen turned, and, flying low, loosed off their machine guns and poured a withering fusilade into the writhing mass below. Time and again they streaked along the stricken line till the last cartridge had been expended. Then, with all their guns and transport abandoned, those who survived the ordeal fled to the hills of Samaria, and hid amongst the ruinstill nightfall. Next day the Light Horsemen rode through the defile, and we called it "The Valley of Death".