British Soldiers in Jerusalem, World War I
This photo is part of a group of black and white prints depicting various stages of World War I in Israel.
It shows British troops marching along the main road leading to the Old City of Jerusalem. The officers are mounted on horses and inspecting the troops. Many people are watching the parade; some are standing on the pavement, while others are standing on the balconies overlooking the road, some holding umbrellas to protect them from the weather.
The picture is clearly showing a parade of the victorious troops and not recording an initial foray into the city in which the soldiers would have been dressed in combat gear including helmets and there would have been greater general commotion. On the side of the road are residents who are observing the troops with interest, with no obvious reaction to their arrival. There is much planning and organisation in evidence here, rather than the hustle and bustle which would be seen should this be the initial foray into the city. The British troops can be identified according to their ranks and to the way in which they are holding their weapons. It is also clear that they are marching victoriously, without any need to have access to their combat gear, such as helmets.
The subjects of this photo series range from senior officials in the Turkish Army to German and Turkish troops stationed in Palestine and the British Army entering Jerusalem.
The British invaded the territory of the Ottoman Empire through the Sinai Desert. After several setbacks on other fronts, the British government demanded that General Allenby conquer Jerusalem at any cost as a gift to the British Empire. The British saw Israel as not only an occupation of strategic importance but also an important boost to morale throughout the Empire.
History teachers can use this resource to discuss the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of the British Mandate period in Palestine. This photograph may be of interest to teachers and learners dealing with military history. In Politics classes, this photograph can be used to trigger a discussion about the rise and fall of empires throughout history.
Where was this photograph taken?
Which army is featured in this picture?
Is this a formal or informal event?
What can you say about the way the soldiers look? Do they seem ready for combat? Are they in parade uniforms?
Reading Between the Lines
Look at the uniforms and the way in which the soldiers are marching.
Is this scene organised or spontaneous?
Is this a photograph of a battle or is it depicting something else? What is it depicting?
The photograph is not dated, but based on the event shown, when do you think it was taken?
In what way was this a significant moment for the residents of Palestine?
Take a look at the spectators.
How are they reacting to the scene?
What can we learn from their reaction to the army’s entrance into the city?
What would your reaction have been to the entry of British troops into Jerusalem?
What happened to these forces after they captured Jerusalem?
When British troops withdrew from Israel in 1947, what was the reaction of the residents?
Write a postcard from a British soldier who entered Jerusalem in 1917 to his family back in England describing his feelings on that day.