Knocking Out The Hejaz Railway I THE GREAT WAR Week 195


The Hejaz Railway was a vital supply and communications line for the Ottoman Empire, connecting Damascus and Medina, and this week, Lawrence of Arabia and the forces of the Arab Revolt take a big chunk of it. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week Germany had renewed its Western
Front offensives as Operation Georgette, the battle of La Lys, began. It was an immediate success, and by the end
of the week the Germans were just 8 km from Hazebrouck, their target, with the channel
ports beyond. The Ottomans were advancing in the Caucasus,
and there was scandal in the Central Powers when the Sixtus Affair came to light – that
Emperor Karl had considered selling out his German ally. His Foreign Minister Count Czernin was replaced
this week. One other thing that I mentioned last week
actually happens this week: Ferdinand Foch is placed in overall control of all Allied
armies. He ordered the defense of Hazebrouck to be
as near as possible to the eastern edge of the Nieppe Forest. By now, they had a pretty solid barrier in
front of the railway town, but Georgette had now changed its objective – it was now the
Mount Kemmel – Mount des Cats ridge the Germans wanted to take. Still, by the 14th, they were being increasingly
disappointed. The left wing of the 6th army, like last week,
made no progress at Festubert and Givenchy. The attackers wanted to call the attack off,
and German Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff agreed said okay – they would instead attack
the 17th, north of the Nieppe Forest. The British were really worried about losing
the channel ports at Calais and Boulogne. There were substitute ports like Le Havre
and Cherbourg, but they were further away and out of range for smaller ships. “Using larger ships would slow down the
flow of supplies, but would make it impossible to continue to maintain the blockade at Dover,
the key anchor in the antisubmarine defense” (German 1918 Offensives) On the 15th, to free up forces to fight in
the Lys valley, the British pulled back their line north of Ypres, giving up all the territory
won for a quarter of a million casualties at the Battle of Passchendaele last fall. On the 17th came the new German attack, whose
objective was to separate the British and Belgians. The attacks could have cut off the Ypres Salient
had they succeeded, but by evening they had failed, with the Belgians driving the Germans
back almost to their starting positions. The attack was called off at the end of the
week, and Operation Georgette had basically turned into a battle of attrition. Ludendorff had the strategic imperative of
defeating the British to win the war – that’s what he thought would do it, and German Chief
of Staff Paul von Hindenburg had even written in his memoirs (Offensives), “The attack against the British northern
wing remained the focal point of our operations. I believed the war would be decided if this
attack was successful. If we reached the channel coast, we could
lay our hands directly on Britain’s vital arteries. In so doing, we would not only be in the most
favorable position conceivable for interrupting her maritime communications, but our heaviest
artillery would be able to bring a segment of the south coast of Britain under fire.” The Germans weren’t the only Central Power
trying to advance this week. The Ottomans were on the move against the
Armenians heading toward the Caucasus. Basically by force of circumstances, and not
true planning, the Armenian forces were better concentrated by now than before, though. Their roughly 15,000 men could actually do
something against the 25-30,000 Ottomans advancing on them. The Ottomans attacked on the line between
Novo-Selim and Agadeve on the 19th. Now, here the Armenians had around 9,000 rifles
on a front of 40 km, so it was spread pretty thin. Still, though the attackers took a mountain
overlooking Agadeve, fierce counterattacks pushed them back. But by the end of the day, as Turkish reserves
arrived, the Armenians were in retreat toward Benliahmet. General Lebedinski, in overall command of
the defenders, was fairly optimistic about continued resistance and told this to the
Armenian National Assembly at Alexandropol, which voted in favor of continuing the struggle. Thing is, the Transcaucasian Diet, representing
the Transcaucasian Federation, trying to negotiate peace with the Ottomans in Trabzon, had a
bit of a different attitude. They had wanted to accept the Ottoman ultimatum
for territory we saw a couple weeks ago, and they had been telegraphed authority to do
so from Tiflis, but the telegram must have been delayed or something, because that was
on the 10th, and on the 12th, the Ottoman commander of the forces approaching Batum
sent another ultimatum, to surrender the fortress and surrounding area. When the Diet got this new ultimatum, they
changed their minds and rejected it, so now from the 14th, there was officially a state
of war, though the commander of Batum fortress did, in fact, surrender. Further to the south there was action in Palestine. On April 13th, there was an attack by the
Arab Revolt on Simna, west of Maan. After capturing the outpost, they attacked
Maan station just east of the town two days later. Taking Maan would prevent the Ottomans from
making flanking attacks on British General Edmund Allenby’s army. Maan though, was strongly fortified with machine
guns posts and the attackers were forced to withdraw after two days, taking heavy casualties. The British then attacked the Hejaz Railway
near Tell Shahm, south of Maan, using armored cars, the Egyptian Camel Corps, and tribesmen. The attack was a big success, taking the station
and destroying hundreds of meters of rail and the bridges there. Lawrence of Arabia was part of all of these
attacks, laying bricks of gun cotton to the rails and lighting the fuses. The attackers then turned south to the next
station, Wadi Rethem. (Setting the desert on fire) “Relying on
the invincibility of the cars again – to small arms fire at least – (Lieutenant-Colonel Alan)
Dawnay ordered one car forward to the station, which was then demolished with explosive. Its battered remains can still be seen today
among the sands – the color of old mustard – on the very south of Jordan.” The Times would report the destruction or
occupation of 53 miles of the railway, a pretty big feat, though both that paper and the War
office gave credit solely to the men of the Arab Revolt. And as those small attacks continued, Austrian
Emperor Karl was now planning a big one. I said last week that his Foreign Minister
Count Czernin was dismissed this week – the 14th – by Karl over the Sixtus Affair. Before his fall, though, he had recommended
a new offensive against Italy in the late spring, and Karl had agreed, possibly hoping
it would restore his standing in Germany, damaged by the affair. The Germans would actually insist on the offensive
in return for food shipments, and German High Command liked the idea as a support for German
Western Front attacks. For AH, it was a chance to capture some much-needed
supplies, make Rome negotiate, and have some say in what they saw as impending German victory. They were even going to use similar methods
of attack to the German ones of Operation Michael, and since they were now getting a
lot of prisoners of war returned from Russia, who’d left the war, they were bringing their
army back up to strength and figured they’d attack before Italy could recover any more
from its defeat last November. And here are a bunch of notes to end the week. On the 14th, French PM Georges Clemenceau
says France does not recognize the current Russian Bolshevik government. On the 15th, Germans report the occupation
of Helsinki. Also on the 15th, Greek troops cross Struma
River and occupy villages in the Seres district on the Macedonian Front, and at the end of
the week on that front, the Italians attacked at Cerna Bend, but they were repulsed. On April 18th in Britain, the Third Military
Service Bill receives royal assent. It’s supposed to be the last manpower measure
of the war. The military age is raised to 50 and if necessary
to 55. Returned POWs and those who’ve completed
tours of duty are liable to further service. A national emergency may be declared and all
exemptions to service withdrawn. And that was the week. The Germans trying and failing to push the
British back to the Channel, the Armenians being pushed back by the Ottomans in eastern
Anatolia, but the Ottomans losing in Palestine, and Austria making plans for a renewed offensive
against Italy. Funny, I said at the beginning of the year
that Austria-Hungary had decided it would make no new offensives this year, but the
situation had changed. With Russia out of the war, hundreds of thousands
of prisoners were returning to their Empire, restoring the army. Thing is, the empire was still starving and
desperately needed to get or take resources and munitions from someone, and the nations
of the empire were now demanding autonomy; Karl really needed this – not for a glorious
victory in battle, not even to win the war, but just for mere survival. That’s how far the Habsburg Empire had fallen. By the way, this time 100 years ago, the Royal
Air Force was now just a little over two weeks old. Our friend Bismarck explores the foundation
of this independent Air Force on his channel about military aviation history right here
– and we highly recommend that you check it out. Our Patreon supporter is Dhruv Kapoor – thank
you for your ongoing support on Patreon – we could not make this show without you. Don’t forget to subscribe, see you next

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100 thoughts on “Knocking Out The Hejaz Railway I THE GREAT WAR Week 195”

  1. قصة شهيد says:

    The british fucked us over big time in the Arab revolt.

  2. Steve Kaczynski says:

    1:23 – interesting application of camouflage paint to a German howitzer (or less likely an anti-aircraft gun). 2:50 – a German unit (of Stosstruppen?) for some reason wearing trousers much darker than the normal Feldgrau.

  3. Steve Kaczynski says:

    For the second time the British gave up territory they had won at very high cost in previous years.

  4. Kevin Byrne says:

    Raising the draft age? threatening to eliminate all exemptions?
    Sounds as if the British are panicking.

  5. Doc Tar says:

    The brits were calling up 50 and 55 year olds by this point in the war. That's nearing collapse.

  6. Justafan IV says:

    Poor Karl, he gets thrust into power in the middle of a World War, desperately (some might say naively) tries to make peace, and now has to commit to yet another offensive just to try to keep the Empire from utter collapse.

  7. graverobber6996 says:

    For out of the trenches
    So the reason Austria Hungary has been barely active is because the whole empire was starving? What happened to the Ukraine wheat and such? My question is can we get more details of Austria Hungary since their victory at Capporetto

  8. Gary Daniel says:

    So the shot of the Germans building a house in a pit is the construction of a multi level bunker?

  9. Murray McCash says:

    Why is Russia pink? 0:57. Does that mean they are in a Civil War now?

  10. Jacques Francois says:

    Sub squad mount up! This train is going to the wars end! choo choo!

  11. Himalayastar says:

    It has a long a time since he talked about action in Mesopotamia…

  12. Triple Eye - Indie Gaming says:

    Just wait until the Bulgarians show up on the Western Front in force. They'll march all the way to Washington DC by June, just because they can!

  13. Charlie says:

    Yay! Belgian army is mentioned!

  14. Χαράλαμπος Βαϊτσάκης says:

    Finally something from peter o't… I mean lawrence

  15. P K says:

    That's it, the Germans have almost won this! Wonderful!

  16. NotJustinY. says:

    Ooowh the Ukranian border…

  17. Fahrenheit Dibb says:

    Ma'an, that Station…

  18. Paul says:

    2:20 I have not seen photos of soldiers of the British Empire at barricades before. It is reminiscent of Belgian soldiers in 1914.

  19. The LOLbertarian says:

    I really want to play an XCOM style WW1 game. It would be totally amazing.

  20. eggnogui says:

    Was it just me or was there an audio issue in this episode?

  21. The legendary Klobb says:

    So Germany was desperate, and Austria hungry

  22. Nick Walker says:

    6:44 ; Double agent Neville Chamberlain!

  23. T.R Ellis says:

    Thank you for the content ! What movie do you think best represents a realistic take on The Great War ?

  24. براہمداغ says:

    LOL at the Hashemittes, Still fighting for the Brits even after the revelation of Sykes-Pikot

  25. Red Baron says:

    Hey Indy and crew, love the channel, i was wondering if you guys could publish all your work. It would make incredible posters and would love to use some as my background on my phone and computer. Thank you for all the amazing work

  26. airraverstaz says:

    That would suck to have been captured in battle, finally be freed and immediately told "prepare for another attack."…….."and try not to get captured this time."

  27. William Dunning says:

    Can you please do a special on Lawrence of Arabia?

  28. Military Aviation History says:

    And this just about concludes Part 1 of 'The Dash for the Channel'. Come back in 2040 for 'Part 2'! 😉 Thanks for the shout out!

  29. Not Politically Correct History says:

    Hey Indy, when are we gonna get that video about the German Asian Corp.?

  30. Rolf Hartmann says:

    So the Germans occuplied Helsinki, but the real question is if they'll Finnish the job 😉

  31. EdM240B says:

    The British retreating from Passchendaele is such a depressing thing that happened.

  32. Jake Fuentes says:

    Oh great storyteller, prophet Indy, what say you next?

  33. Imperator Games says:

    Love this new map style!

  34. the bullfrog says:

    Can you please do a video on Simpson and his donkey from Gallipoli

  35. Ed 2168 says:

    Into the fourth year and still such huge human carnage. 250,000 dead for land they took and lost. As in The Bridge On The River Kwai . Madness simply Madness.

  36. James Parker says:

    Germany is swallowing up French land like it's 1914!

  37. StormLaker1975 says:

    I grew up as a kid reading about T.E. Lawrence, he was one of my heroes growing up…such a life of adventure! The turn of the century was such a magical time for discovery and adventure- he was among the many who I idolized growing up.

  38. Titus180 says:

    is there a special episode about the african american troops that fought in this war or is it coming in the upcoming weeks?

  39. Brian Anderson says:

    Raising the induction age to 55 years old… You know your countries in serious trouble when they start taking men that old.

  40. LeCharles07 says:

    I had never heard of guncotton before, interesting stuff.

  41. DamuEmran says:

    Poland, Ukraine, Belerus,Lithuania,Lavtiva and Estonia and Finland. All exist thanks to Germany they own Germany big time.
    As for Modern time in Balkans they way to fix is for Moldova to retuned back to Romania, Bulgaria and Greece split up Macedonia, Turkey returns some land back to Bulgaria. Kosovo is retuned back to Serbia. Northern part of Bosnia given to Croatia and Western half to Serbia. Slovenia and Croatia must resolve the water dispute. Turkey hands over Cyprus to Greece

    As for Austria it can join Germany or go back to Hungary.

  42. Aleksandar Kan says:

    the Bulgarians repulsed the Italian army in Crna bend

  43. William Prince says:

    Your reports on trans Caucasian battles have been very helpful helping me understand current events in Syria and Northern Iraq and the plight of the Kurds. Thank you.

  44. Mohammad Badawy says:

    I hate the dam arabs who betrayed the Ottoman empire

  45. Erik Arustamyan says:

    do you think that if the ottomans didnt focus so much of their manpower on the Caucasus they would have been able to defend against the British in Palestine?

  46. Jordan May says:

    I started watching this series off and on in the fall of 2016, and I am finally caught up 🙂 Great work Indy and team. I love your videos!

  47. Guy Souriandt says:

    For those interested in following these details, the West Point website has some relevant maps to help you follow along with all the placenames:

  48. Tyler Onori says:

    Did the French drink their own urine during the battle of Verdun

  49. CArchivist says:

    We are getting closer towards animation history and WWI, The Sinking of the Lusitania by Winsor McCay soon to be released (100 years ago) in England in May!

  50. Angelo Cortez says:

    Habsburg became the Austria Hungry Empire

  51. XKCDism says:

    Funky Cold Medina?

  52. TheTobinator says:

    But wait, didn't Britain have even more 100,000 soldiers ready to fight why, need to conscript more men?

  53. GammonGubba says:

    I’m gonna be honest I didn’t know the ottomans were still about at this point in the war. I’d just kind of assumed they’d curled up and died like two years ago.

  54. Jacob Zondag says:

    Well, well, Look at this. The Red Baron died tomorrow.

  55. nodinitiative says:

    Germany got this in the bag!

  56. عيسى الشمري says:

    Really !! the episode title is about Hejaz Railway. But you talked about it for 2 minuets.

  57. Wisemankugel Memicus says:

    You know all these jokes about Germany winning the war, but at sometimes it does seem that way. Even though we all know how it’s going to end.

  58. MrGoldenV says:

    Indy sit still please

  59. DeathOnSernpidal says:

    The Central Powers had so many enemies… To me, it's not amazing that they lost in the end. It's amazing that they lasted this long.

  60. Goaltender Interference says:

    5:14 It was called Ma'an because there was only one ma'an in the whole town.

  61. Boar Legion says:

    Just signed up on Patreon. Love the videos and trying to catch up. I have learned so much about this brutal war. Thanks on doing this documentary series and a job well done, over there.

  62. Darren Pruitt says:

    Where's the flu? I heard there would be the flu but I do not see the flu. Did I miss it?

  63. MarcAFK says:

    6:55 is that Mussolini sitting at the bottom right corner?

  64. Gehtdi anschasau says:

    I started watching this at about february. This is actually my first rewatch. Thx for your great wark Team and Indy

  65. LeaveMeAloneYouTube says:

    I was looking through an old book today on the Kaiserschlacht today, stated that the Germans focused on defeating Britain because their artillery was considered weaker than the French. The French also had an effective defensive strategy and were eventually attacked to draw forces away from the North. Anyway, can't wait to hear about The Second Battle of Marne.

  66. Idan Zamir says:

    I actually live next to an old Hejazi train station (in Israel), we turned it into a little museum about our village in the late Ottoman and British eras. (the village is Kfar Yehoshu'a)

  67. Captured Skunk says:

    Back to the mesopotapian front!!!

  68. Catalin Marius says:

    What about Romania? Ever since January, Bessarabia declared independence, Ukraine tried to invade Bessarabia, Sfatul Tarii of Bessarabia asked Romania for help, Romania came in and Ukraine retreated, Bessarabia declared union with Romania, the Central Powers started pushing through Romania, they reached a stalemate at the Battle of Focsani, then signed the Armistice of Focsani. After the armistice, Romania wanted to delay peace as much as possible in case the war will be won on the western front.

  69. Octavian Cadar says:

    Can you make videos about the desintagration of Austria-Empire for every nation??

  70. Liam Hart says:

    I think that a really interesting episode, which would work well in the coming months, should be focused on the naval blockade of Germany and how the effects of the blockade drastically reduced the calorie intake of civilians at home. I remember reading a few papers on this topic while I was at university a few years ago. Keep up the great work and congratulations on everything so far.

  71. juan pedro Wallace says:

    Hi crew and indy, im in Nz now and went to the ww1 museum, nice lots of stuff i have. A photo of a machine gun something Mark 2 but i dont know how to send it, also if you need something of that placer ill be pleased to to help, there is a lots of info by

  72. Lazim says:

    The hejaz was the ottoman empire's vietnam

  73. Afonso de Albuquerque says:

    Make a special episode about the countries occupied by the Central Powers, how the occupiers managed the administration and economy, and how they treated the general population. Countries like Romania, for example.

  74. Onebadterran says:

    The old and infirm serve in war

  75. Bill Huber says:


  76. FORZA ROMA says:

    The war will be over by christmas!

  77. Stuff25 says:

    Ermagerd I've finally caught up after binging for the last couple weeks. This really is a fantastic show and I'm excited to see what you guys will do for World War 2

  78. SavageGreywolf says:

    spoilers for next week: RIP the Red Baron

  79. Stylish Dad says:

    That intro gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME! It does such a great job of portraying the misery of WWI.

  80. Chris Musix says:


  81. DonPacific Bobcat9er says:

    Oh, isn’t the first tank battle going to happen on the next week? Can’t wait for that!

  82. Wombats20 says:

    Looking forward to the Villers Bretonneux episode! Unfortunate that it wasn't ready in time for ANZAC day. will keep an eye out!

  83. J. B. says:

    Just found this channel about a month ago. All I gotta say is: DAN CARLIN brought me here. Great series, but the big question is this: what am I gonna do with my life after November?

  84. Bruce Tucker says:

    I'm curious how many men over 40 were conscripted, and what they did with them. I can't imagine many 40-somethings had the physical constitution to endure trench warfare.

  85. SBR_404 says:

    For this who are curious, the sign at the wall on the last picture (the AH soldier writing) is actually a little poem: "Wer a Briefl nach Hause schreiben willDer ist am liebsten allein!Drum stör ihn nicht und sei still,So wird's bald fertig sein.""He, who wants to write a letter homePreferably is left alone!So leave him be und don't make a sound,Soon he'll be done and be around."(i added the "and be around" so it rhymes 😉 )

  86. Ferdinand says:

    I've been watching these for about a month and I'm glad to finally be caught up! It's been a fun experience and I can't wait to see what's next, but as always it's probably more meaningless bloodshed, this is modern war.

  87. mrssalina says:

    Why attack here where no major strategic success could be had? Attack on the north bank of the Somme and head to the channel.

  88. Luomu69 says:

    I'd like to point out a fact of some importance here: Even though the german troops landed on southern Finland and admittedly helped the whites in the finnish civil war, the war was still, by that time and to all intents and purposes, decided in favor of the white side. White side would have won even without german assistance.

  89. griffon29200 says:

    Le bulletin

  90. Michael Moore says:

    Are you gonna talk about world war war?

  91. David Denenny says:

    I've finally caught up with the show and am up to date! This is the best show on YouTube, by far!

  92. The happy LEGO says:

    Where the next week

  93. Blake Kenley says:

    by now I have no idea why you haven't done a special on Erwin Rommel's accomplishments as per the battles he fought in and commanded. I know you have a special on him but such a figure deserves so much more.

  94. stoner gamer says:

    Battlefield 1s final mission

  95. King Ijaz MaliK : 1996-2096 says:


  96. King Ijaz MaliK : 1996-2096 says:

    H. E. J. A. Z

  97. TheCastleConqueror says:

    You are pronouncing all the Middle Eastern locations wrongly.

  98. Mike Sabbe says:

    So strange that so many fallen are still under our feet here , We live now on the German line . wife is from Ypres . Really wonder some days where are all the missing fallen. 48000 dead Germans in walking distance from my house . And for what ….. so sad for both sides 🙁

  99. Anindo Mahmud says:

    Hejaz was an independent state before the terrorist state of Saudi Arabia hijacked it in 1924. If Saudi Arabia ever had any shame (which was never), it would have let go of Hejaz a long time ago.

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