No enemy could delay our progress from that shell-torn spot. Lighter guns searched other positions and whiffs of shrapnel kept Turks from their business. There are green patches on the western side of Talat ed Dumm in the early months of the year before the sun has burned up the country. Over these the infantry advanced as laid down in the book.
Then comes the Talat Muhajjah, a broken saddleback, whose cantle from the south-east appears split into a pair of steeple-like boulders an architect of Alexander the Great's day would have easily cut and trimmed them into such towers as the world has never seen.
The chief objective of the centre column was Talat ed Dumm which, lying on the Jericho road just before the junction of the old and the new road to the Jordan valley, was the key to Jericho. It is hard to imagine a better defensive position. To the north of the road is the wadi Farah, a great crack in the rocks which can only be crossed in a few places, and which a few riflemen could cover.
They had given up hope of keeping their landing place on the northern shores of the Dead Sea when we took Talat ed Dumm, and one hour after our infantry had planted themselves on the Hill of Blood we saw the enemy burning his boats, wharves, and storehouses at Rujm el Bahr, where he had expended a good deal of labour to put up buildings to store grain wanted for his army.
We soon got this position, and then our troops, ascending some spurs, poured a destructive fire into the defile and so harassed the Turks re-forming for a counterattack as to render feeble their efforts to regain what they had lost. By eight o'clock we had taken the whole of the Talat ed Dumm position, and long-range sniping throughout the day did not disturb our secure possession of it.
The Turks had got an immensely strong position about Talat ed Dumm, the 'Mound of Blood, where stands a ruined castle of the Crusaders, the Chastel Rouge.
Likewise a platoon distributed behind rocks on the many hills could command the approaches from all directions, while the hill of Talat ed Dumm, by the Good Samaritan Inn, and the height whereon the Crusader ruins stand, dominated a broad flat across which our troops must move. This position the 180th Brigade attacked at dawn.
The nature of the country was a very serious obstacle and the column was late in deploying for attack. But bad as was the route the men had followed during the night, it was easy as compared with the position they had set out to carry. This was Jebel Ekteif, the southern end of the range of hills of which Talat ed Dumm was the northern.