‘I want Jerusalem for Christmas’

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‘I want Jerusalem for Christmas’

When it became apparent that the war on the western front would drag on into 1918, the British Prime-minister knew he would need something to boost the morale of his long-suffering nation. ‘I want Jerusalem [captured] for Christmas’, declared Lloyd George, ‘as a present to the British nation’.[8]  He wanted photographs of Allied victories in the sunshine, not hard-fought battles under foreboding winter skies. Thus, in November 2017, Hurley was sent by the war office to cover the fighting in Palestine.

By the time Hurley arrived in Palestine in late December, General Sir Edmund Allenby had taken Jerusalem from the Turks and the men of the Australian Mounted Division were resting near Gaza. After 'the hell of France', Hurley said that it 'reminded me of a great picnic'.[9]  'There is not the strain of war nor the eternal fear of death. [. . .] France is hell, Palestine more or less a holiday.' [10]

On this new assignment, Hurley did not face the same dilemma of trying to capture the vastness and drama of bloody battles on a single negative. There was no need for composites which created or played with the truth (depending on your point of view). Instead, Hurley worked with the military to re-create and photograph the battle scenes that he missed when he was en route to Palestine. Brigades of men and horses were placed like set pieces to depict the attack on Gaza and the fall of Jerusalem. Hurley observed that as ‘the horses and men [had] been in rest camp now for several weeks, [they] are all in fine fettle’. [11] Their freshness and poise in the saddle would make winning look easy. Hurley even arranged and photographed a band of Australian Light Horse Men marching into Jerusalem, though he knew that they did not take part in the battle. He justified playing with the truth because: ‘pictures of Jerusalem are of no military or public interest unless some of our troops are included.’[12] When still photographs would not suffice, he used his film (moving images) camera. The army re-enacted the charge of Beersheba and Hurley was pleased with the exciting footage.[13]

Frank Hurley left Palestine on 4 March 1918, satisfied that he had fully exploited the photographic and cinematic opportunities in this theatre of war. He sailed to London, where he worked feverishly to get his photographs ready for an exhibition at the Grafton Galleries, which Charles Bean had proposed. 

Egypt and Palestine

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World War I: France, Belgium, Palestine, 1917-1918 / Paget plates photographed by Frank Hurley

At the Hangars of the 1st Australian Squadron Australian Flying Corps, Palestine, 1917.
1917-1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a1404001
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World War I: France, Belgium, Palestine, 1917-1918 / Paget plates photographed by Frank Hurley

Captain Hurley at a dump of shells left by the retreating Turks when they were driven back from Gaza, 1918.
1917-1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a1404007
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World War I: France, Belgium, Palestine, 1917-1918 / Paget plates photographed by Frank Hurley

The Army Medical Corps attached to the Imperial Camel Corps in the desert at RAFA Palestine. January 1918.
1917-1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a1404013
The 4th Brigade Australian Light Horse amongst the ruins of Gaza.jpg
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The 4th Brigade Australian Light Horse amongst the ruins of Gaza, January 1918. World War I: France, Belgium, Palestine, 1917-1918 / Paget plates photographed by Frank Hurley

 

 

The 4th Brigade Australian Light Horse amongst the ruins of Gaza, January 1918. One of the colour Paget Plate photographs, and most likely a staged photograph
1918
Captain Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a1404017
Camel lines of the Egyptian Camel Corps at Esdud. Palestine, February, 1918.
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Camel lines of the Egyptian Camel Corps at Esdud. Palestine, February 1918.

Camel lines of the Egyptian Camel Corps at Esdud. Palestine, February 1918
1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a1404022
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World War I: France, Belgium, Palestine, 1917-1918 / Paget plates 

Captain Ross-Smith (Tall figure) and Observer in front of a Modern Bristol Fighter, 1st Squadron A.F.C. Palestine, February 1918.
1917-1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a1404023
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World War I: France, Belgium, Palestine, 1917-1918 / Paget plates 

Ruins of Grand Mosque Gaza after the bombardment. The enemy used it as an ammunition store house.
1917-1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a1404032
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World War I: France, Belgium, Palestine, 1917-1918 / Paget plates photographed by Frank Hurley

The Rocks of Andromeda, Jaffa with transports laden with War Materials out at sea.
1917-1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a1404034
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Exhibition of war photographs / taken by Capt. F. Hurley, August 1917- August 1918

An Australian Light Horseman in Palestine viewing the Promised Land.
Aug 1917 - Aug 1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a479086
The advance through the desert with the Australian Light Horse in Palestine, 1918.
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from an Exhibition of War photographs by Captain F Hurley

The advance through the desert with the Australian Light Horse in Palestine.
1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a479087
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Exhibition of war photographs / taken by Capt. F. Hurley, August 1917- August 1918

Australian Light Horse watering in the Desert.
Aug 1917 - Aug 1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a479090
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Exhibition of war photographs / taken by Capt. F. Hurley, August 1917- August 1918

Jerusalem from an aeroplane. To the top right of the picture lies the Mount of Olives.
Aug 1917 - Aug 1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a479110
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Exhibition of war photographs / taken by Capt. F. Hurley, August 1917- August 1918

A machine descending to the Hangars of the 1st Australian Flying Corps, Palestine.
Aug 1917 - Aug 1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a479107
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Exhibition of war photographs / taken by Capt. F. Hurley, August 1917- August 1918

Australian Light Horse watering horses on Mount Zion, Jerusalem.
Aug 1917 - Aug 1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a479113
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Exhibition of war photographs / taken by Capt. F. Hurley, August 1917- August 1918

In the Courtyard of a Mosque.
Aug 1917 - Aug 1918
Frank Hurley
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Digital ID: 
a479120