100 years ago today: Surrendering the ancient city to a pair of NCOs from London in short pants
During almost continuous rain on 8 December, Jerusalem ceased to be protected by the Ottoman Empire. Chetwode (commander of XX Corps), who had relieved Bulfin (commander of XXI Corps), launched the final advance taking the heights to the west of Jerusalem on 8 December. The Ottoman Seventh Army retreated during the evening and the city surrendered the following day.
The mayor of Jerusalem, Hussein Salim al-Husseini, attempted to deliver the Ottoman Governor’s letter surrendering the city to Sergeants James Sedgewick and Frederick Hurcomb of 2/19th Battalion, London Regiment*, just outside Jerusalem’s western limits on the morning of 9 December 1917. The two sergeants, who were scouting ahead of Allenby’s main force, refused to take the letter. It was eventually accepted by Brigadier General C.F. Watson, commanding the 180th (2/5th London) Brigade.
Jerusalem was almost encircled by the EEF, although Ottoman Army units briefly held the Mount of Olives on 9 December. They were overwhelmed by the 60th (2/2nd London) Division the following afternoon
The offica guard posted at the Jaffa Gate later that day were a little more turned out.
*The 19th Battalion, London Regiment (St Pancras), in existence from 1860, was a reserve unit that disbanded in 1961 after being called to the colors for service in the Boer Wars and both World Wars. Its lineage, however, is retained by the London Regiment overall which serves as a four-company TA battalion attached to the Guards Brigade.