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With the Cameliers in Palestine

Chapter XXVI — In Memoriam

page 238

Chapter XXVI
In Memoriam

Of all the fighting units in the British Army that took part in the Great War, the exploits of the Imperial Camel Brigade are probably least known to the general public. Yet this Brigade has a memorial set up in the heart of the Empire, on which are inscribed the names of all members of the force who gave their lives for their King and Country, and included in these are the names of six officers and thirty-five other ranks of the two New Zealand Companies which formed part of the Brigade.

The memorial consists of the bronze figure of a Camelier in complete marching order, mounted on a camel. On two sides of the square base are bronze reliefs depicting typical scenes in the life of the troopers in action, while on the front and the rear of the base are carved in bronze the names of three hundred and forty-six officers and men of the Corps who died during the campaign. On the lower part of the base are the words: "To the Glorious and Immortal Memory of the Officers, N.C.O’s and Men of the Imperial Camel Corps—British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian—who fell in action or died of wounds and disease in Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine, 1916, 1917, 1918."

The monument stands in Victoria Gardens, on the Thames Embankment in London, and was unveiled in 1921, by Lieut-General Sir Philip Chetwode, who commanded in its early career, Desert Column of which the Camel Corps formed a part. There were present at the ceremony, Brigadier-General C. L. Smith, v.c., M.c., who commanded the Brigade during the whole of its career, Colonel de Lancey Forth, O.C. of the Third (Australian) Battalion, Colonel R. V. Buxton, O.C. of the page break
Memorial to Imperial Camel Corps, Thames Embankment, London

Memorial to Imperial Camel Corps, Thames Embankment, London

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British Military Cemetery, Mt. Scopus, overlooking Jerusalem

British Military Cemetery, Mt. Scopus, overlooking Jerusalem

page 239Second (British) Battalion, Major Lord Winterton, m.p., second in command of the Second Battalion, while Mr. Hughes on behalf of the Australian Government, and Mr. W. P. Massey on behalf of New Zealand also took part in the ceremony.

After a prayer of dedication had been offered, and floral tributes had been placed at the base of the memorial, seven pipers of the Scots Guards played the lament, "The Flowers of the Forest," and buglers sounded the "Last Post."

After the Armistice the Imperial War Graves Commission had the bodies of those who fell in the campaigns in Palestine and Syria, collected into the Military Cemeteries at Gaza, Deir el Belah, Beersheba, Ramleh, Haifa, Damascus, or Jerusalem.

The Military Cemetery at Jerusalem is situated on the top of Mt. Scopus about a mile and three-quarters to the north of the city. From this spot a commanding view of the Holy City and its surroundings is obtained. One gets a good idea of the rocky limestone ridge on which the city is built, and the outstanding buildings are seen in their natural relation to each other, the Temple Area, Haram esh Sheriff, in the midst of which stands the Moslem Mosque, the Mosque of Omar (the Dome of the Rock or Kubbet es Sakhra), which, according to Arab historians was built by Abd el Melik in the ninth century, over the spot where Abraham is said to have prepared to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. On this spot also David erected an altar, and here also the Temple of Solomon and the succeeding Jewish Temples were built. The Aksa Mosque, Mesjid el Aksa, the most distant mosque (from Mecca) in the south of the Temple Area, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to which pilgrims from Christendom have directed their footsteps from the earliest times of the Christian era, stand out clearly.

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It was on Mt. Scopus that Titus and his Roman legions encamped during the siege of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, and near here also Saladin had his headquarters when he forced the Crusaders to surrender Jerusalem to him in 1187.

From the early days of the Christian era it was the ambition of kings and warriors of European countries to have their bodies laid to rest in the sacred soil near the Holy City. The request of King Robert the Bruce to Lord Douglas to carry the heart of Bruce for burial near the Holy Sepulchre was not fulfilled, as Douglas died in the attempt. In the churchyard of a small chapel on the slope of the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem there has been interred the heart of a Scottish nobleman in modern times, as is stated in a Latin inscription on a marble slab in the porch of the church. The bodies of the men of the British Expeditionary Force, from Great Britain, S. Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand—the modern Crusaders who gave their lives in helping to free the Holy Land from the rule of the Turks—are laid to rest in a spot which overlooks the Holy City and all its hallowed surroundings.

In earth, once trodden by the Master’s feet,
They lie, their bodies now at rest.
They came from far,—the sea-girt isles.
The crowded mart, the hills wind-swept,
But now they sleep in hallowed ground
O’erlooking where, of yore, the Master slept.

Their bodies, worn by toils of war,—
The midnight march, the dawn’s swift, fierce attack,
Or scorched by desert’s sun, or chilled by rain,
By fiery bullet scarred, or naked, sword,—
Repose in dust, their souls, set free,
Are called to higher service by their Lord.