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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Jerusalem light railway


Eran Tearosh

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The summer of 1918, central Palestine: The short-lived Jerusalem/Talpayot >> El-Bira + Surdan/Sinjil 600 mm railway was a quickly built, service railsystem to supply the front line troops and their horses/mules for the 5 months that the EEF front was stable. On the 19th September 1918, as Allenby and his Australians  broke through the Turkish lines-the railway-quickly became irrelevant.

    It was dismantled, parts were stolen, and some of the equipment was retuned to Egypt.

    Some, Arab village women-to this day-sing, at weddings- a song of the "train-whistle" in the valley--that they 'heard' in 1918. (The villages north of RamAllah)

(Major) Dr. Steve Sattler

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I have written a chapter in military railways for a book to be published by the British Ovwrseas Raulway Historical Trust - the book manuscript is ready and it is to enter production process a.s.a.p. - i am travelling but know i had a memoir of the chap who surveyed and laid the El Bireh line. Look also at the Harakevet index and archive, i had a photo of the tracks at jerusalem statio  being relaid to standard gauge. Sorry i cannot be more specifuc right now but i have just decided to join the Group!!! Walter

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JERUSALEM TRACK PLAN

For those so interested, a track plan for Jerusalem (and of Beersheba) appears in Issue 59 of the railway enthusiast magazine Harakevet - the article prepared by Paul Cotterell is archived as a pdf at

http://harakevetmagazine.com/downloads/HRKIssue59.pdf 

 

IainAlexander

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The Jerusalem-El-Bira 600mm military railway   May till Sept. 1918

   This line was built very quickly, using local and Egyptian laborers (mostly females) to supply the troops and animals on the "up-in  the hills" front -The El-Bira/RamAllah  district today. (North of Jerusalem)

   Most supplies were brought up on the old J&J railway from Jaffa port, to 'just to the back' of the Jerusalem (stone) Railway station. (today this is called 'The First Station' and it is an open mall and public resturaunt complex.). This was the 1435 mm Standard Gauge. Obviously, some (many?) supplies were brought up by the older Standard Gauge from East Kantara, on the Canal, to Junction Station.

    The relatively new 600mm El-Bira train (this was a 'toy' train; travelling very slowly), had a set of rails, and platforms just West of the 1435 tracks and platform. There was a Goliath Crane between the two sets of tracks to 'help' with the transfers.

   The 600mm train tracks, also continued on, to the north, past the whole rail complex, did a loop (near the Scottish Church today), and then went due south, along the Bethlehem Road, to the Turkish supply base. This supply base was a central storage and 'safe' camp -from Ottoman attacks.

The map I have -see the attachments--is from June 1921.....and thus maybe suspect, wrong or even, very accurate.

Steve Sattler

JmEl-Bira line Map-R.pdf

JmEl-Bira line Map-L.pdf

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the link James

[May I ask if there is anything in the book from Tim Foster's time on Gallipoli?]

As the postage to this neck of the woods is a bit steep, I will be be back to you early in the New Year after Santa has left something in my stocking

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

James,

 

I've just collected your book this morning and am anxious to let you know of the packet's safe arrival here. The book is a really first class production and a credit not only to the memory of Tim & Pollie, but also to you and Catherine for your very fine work.

Thanks again.

 

Michael

Edited by michaeldr
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  • 5 months later...

Hi

Found this photo in VIA archive, it shows the locomotive used on the narrow gauge only this is the first time I see it with the front light and with people riding on it.

Also the panel on the side looks a bit different (I added the 2nd photo as reference).

The location resembles the hills of Jerusalem and together with the Jaffa sign I would guess it was taken at today's entrance to the City.

Date would be ~1918.

 

Can anyone add something about this? maybe the front light was added at certain time?

 

 

34236541.jpg

Australian army engineers in 2 locomotives Pride of the East and Auld Reekie 1918 (Custom).jpg

Edited by nb2
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The first image is an Imperial War Museum image - IWM Q 12679 - and shows a 4-6-0T Baldwin carrying Jewish recruits from Jaffa to a British Army training camp. The photo was taken on the 60cm line between Jaffa and Ludd, which is in modern Tel Aviv and was some distance from the Jerusalem - El Bira line.

 

The second image is of the Jerusalem - El Bira line; I believe the image is from the Library of Congress collection

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Not so sure about Jaffa-Ludd. The French 100 cm railway between Jaffa and Ludd was taken apart by the Ottomans in 1915, and the rails were reused for the Ottoman Military Railway (105 cm) to the south (The Eastern railway). 

 

There was a British 60 cm railway leading out from Jaffa, but I'm quite sure it was headed towards the Auja River (Yarkon), at not towards Ludd. There was a 76.2 cm track that started from Ludd, but it headed North, towards the front line (Some remnants of this railway's infrastructure can still be seen). I don't remember when the Jaffa-Ludd railway was restored, but whenever that happened, it was most likely a standard gauge (143.5 cm). 

 

There was no connection between the 60 cm railway Jerusalem - el-Bireh to any other place, except Jerusalem station 

 

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English wikipedia of Jaffa railway station (link) states that 600mm was laid by the british from Jaffa to Ludd, with 2 extensions to Jaffa port and Yarkon river.

The Jaffa-Ludd line was 600mm AND 1000mm which allowed for standard gear also.

It is based on Paul Cotterell book.

 

Edited by nb2
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