This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: IWM 13).


I. Newsreel item on the entry of General Allenby into Jerusalem and the reading of his proclamation, Palestine, 11 December 1917.

I. Views of the honour guard at the Jaffa Gate, composed of English, Welsh, Scottish, Indian, Australian and New Zealand troops, with twenty soldiers each from Italy and France continuing the line inside the gate. Allenby meets the military governor of Jerusalem, Brigadier-General W M Borton, at the gate and walks in procession through the streets. The group is headed by two ADCs, Captain W L Naper and Lieutenant R H Andrew, then General Allenby flanked by the heads of the French and Italian contingents, Lieutenant-Colonel P de Piepape and Lieutenant-Colonel F D'Agostino, each with one staff officer. Then come Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Dalmeny and Lieutenant-Colonel A P Wavell (the future Field Marshal Lord Wavell). The remaining group includes the French High Commissioner, M Picot, Louis Matignon (French orientalist), Major T E Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia'), Major-General L J Bols, Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Chetwode and Brigadier-General G P Dawnay, Allenby's Chief of Staff. After the group has conversed amongst itself and Allenby has greeted civil dignitaries, his proclamation is read out with Allenby himself, de Piepape and d'Agostino on the platform. Allenby and his staff, who made a point of walking into the city, then leave on horseback via the Jaffa Gate. Allenby had been less than fifteen minutes in the city.

II. Newsreel item on the Duke of Connaught decorating Allenby and some of his officers at the Turkish barracks at Mount Zion, Palestine, 20 March 1918.

II. Allenby receives the GCMG from Connaught, Major-General L J Bols receives the KCMG and Lieutenant-General Bulfin the KCMG also. A final portrait shot of Allenby closes the film.


Date: the release date is for the original British release, the second item was presumably added later.

Shotsheet: this bears only passing relation to the film.

Production: it is apparent that more than one cameraman was responsible for the Allenby material, but the identity of the second cameraman is not known. For a full account, see the article by Luke McKernan cited below.



In April 1917, on the Western Front of the Great War, the Third Army, under the command of General Edmund Allenby, fought an increasingly bloody and inconclusive offensive against German positions at Arras, northern France. Field Marshal Haig’s battle plan for Arras was ambitious, but the expected gains were never achieved, and by the end of the month the positions were once more entrenched and little progress had been made. Allenby had made several risky miscalculations along the way, and lost many men unnecessarily. By early May, the Third Army was too weak to effect Haig’s shifting plans for battle in the area, and an uncharacteristic show of displeasure with his superiors saw Allenby removed from his post and re-assigned to the Middle East as commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) (Hughes ed., 2004, 5-6; James, 1993, 98-107).

The importance of success in the Eastern theatre was far from inconsequential. Lloyd George, convinced that a victory over the Turks might prove decisive in undermining Germany, was also mindful of the need to protect both British oil interests in Mesopotamia and the immensely important Suez Canal. Victory there would also have a significant symbolic value, and the Prime Minister personally charged Allenby with delivering Jerusalem as a morale-boosting ‘Christmas present for the British nation’ (Grigg, 2002, 339). Victory in the provinces of the ailing Ottoman Empire also held out the inviting promise of healthy annexations after the war, as the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 had already anticipated.

Arriving in Cairo in late June to replace the ineffectual General Murray, Allenby found the EEF demoralised by two successive defeats at Gaza. His manner and approach re-vitalised his forces, and he spent the summer significantly strengthening, restructuring and re-equipping his army for a third assault on the Turkish defences in southern Palestine.

Fighting began on 27 October. A heavy artillery bombardment at Gaza was followed three days later by a surprise attack at the end of the Turkish line near Beersheba, in which the use of cavalry was prominent – the battle saw a ‘spectacular, full scale cavalry charge, almost the last of its kind’ as the Desert Mounted Corps took the city (James, op. cit., 134-5). With Beersheba taken and the enemy line penetrated, Gaza could not be held for long, and German and Turkish forces began their retreat after a week of punishing shelling. Jerusalem itself was well defended, and was taken only after nearly a fortnight of tough fighting. Superior numbers and equipment eventually told against the Turkish forces, and a final push on 8 December saw them abandon the city overnight. At first light, the mayor himself surrendered the city to the first British soldiers he could find (ibid., 132-40; see also Hughes, 1999, 43-59; McKernan, 1993, 170).

The manner of Allenby’s entry into the Holy City and exactly what he was to announce once inside had been considered at the highest levels of government, and he had been telegraphed precise instructions from London on 21 November, before the battle for the city began. William Robertson, the Chief of Imperial General Staff, had advised Allenby of the need to enter the city on foot and cited the example of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had entered on horseback: ‘the saying went round “a better man than he walked.” Advantage of contrast in conduct will be obvious’ (WO 33/946).

On the same day, telegrams from Robertson also reached Allenby providing him with the exact text, devised by the War Cabinet, of the proclamation that was to be read and posted in Jerusalem on his entry, and a checklist of nine items demanded by the Prime Minister himself in order that he could make an announcement to the House of Commons in precise terms (‘1. Manner in which you were received by the population. 2. That you entered Jerusalem on foot. 3. Precautions taken to guard Holy Places. […]’, etc.). A further telegram instructed Allenby not to speak to any foreign powers or to the press of any country until the announcement had been made in Parliament (WO 33/946). 

The General entered Jerusalem on 11 December, accompanied by his staff (T. E. Lawrence among them), French and Italian officers, and various other international representatives. At the Jaffa gate he was greeted by a guard of Commonwealth and Allied troops; dismounting, he and his comrades entered the city on foot, as instructed. The proclamation of martial law, worded exactly as it had been wired to him (though with the addition of a short paragraph indicating that several holy places had been put under specifically Muslim guard, as per instructions in the Prime Minister’s checklist), was ‘read…to the population in Arabic, Hebrew, English, French, Italian, Greek and Russian from the steps of the Citadel’ (Allenby, telegram to CIGS, 11 Dec 1917, WO 33/946). After 400 years of Ottoman rule, Jerusalem had passed into British hands.    



The proceedings in Jerusalem were captured on film by Harold Jeapes, a cameraman working for the War Office Cinematograph Committee (WOCC) in Palestine and Egypt. The WOCC’s arrangement to provide the newsreel series Topical Budget with exclusive material eventually lead to the War Office purchasing the title. Circulation increased and in early 1918, in strong competition for market dominance with Pathé’s Animated Gazette, the newsreel’s name was changed to War Office Official Topical Budget. Released on 23 February 1918, General Allenby’s Entry into Jerusalem was the first film under the new title, and it proved an enormous success (McKernan, op. cit., 171). More than one version of the final newsreel exists (ibid., 173-7).

The film strictly documents the proceedings, detailing the General’s arrival and entry, before showing events within the walls (including the reading of the proclamation and meeting local religious dignitaries), and his departure from the city. The precise placing of the camera (and the carefully shot narrative sequence that results) indicates a concern with the final presentation that is consistent with the highly stage-managed nature of the event itself. The shots begin outside the gate; Allenby’s entry is shot from within the gate; the proclamation is shot from an overlooking building; for his exit, the camera is once more outside the gate looking back at the city. The important moments have been prepared for, and they are shot from positions which emphasise the ultimate intended message by providing the narrative with an easily readable structure.

Multitudes of people of all religions and classes are in the streets, and the sequences which capture these crowds clearly pre-figure the ‘street scene in Jerusalem’ which became a stock feature of films in Palestine under the British Mandate, and which was a visual shorthand that indicated the enormous diversity of Jerusalem’s population.

Above all, the film records a central moment in twentieth century history: the self-consciously theatrical performance that symbolically founded the British presence in Palestine, which thus also marks the beginning of all that would follow from it. As such it is also evidence of the seamless blending of Imperial and military agendas in a moment of fluid and opportunistic expansion, where the advancing front effectively claimed for the Empire the selfsame territory it officially maintained was being liberated. 

Francis Gooding


Works Cited

Grigg, John. Lloyd George: War Leader 1916-18 (London: Allen Lane, 2002)

Hughes, Matthew. Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East 1917-1919 (London: Frank Cass1999)

Hughes, Matthew ed. Allenby in Palestine: The Middle East Correspondence of Field Marshal Viscount Allenby June 1917-October 1919 (Stroud: Sutton/Army Records Society, 2004)

James, Lawrence. Imperial Warrior: the Life and Times of Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby 1861-1936 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1993)

McKernan, Luke. ‘“The supreme moment of the war”: General Allenby’s Entry into Jerusalem’ (Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 13, No. 2, 1993: pp.169-80)

NA: WO 33/946 (telegrams 8582, 8593, 8584, 8693).




Technical Data

Running Time:
14 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
826 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
War Office Cinema Committee
Jeapes, Harold
Production company
Topical Film Company