Remembering the Battle of Beersheba
31 October 2017
Australian bravery and ingenuity on the battlefield will today be honoured as 100 horsemen and women recreate the charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade as part of the centenary commemorations for the Battle of Beersheba in Israel.
The Battle of Beersheba on 31 October 1917 was part of the wider British offensive known as the third Battle of Gaza, leading to the capture of the town of Be’er-Sheva.
The charge will follow a street parade in Be’er-Sheva and a service at the Beersheba Commonwealth Cemetery, where more than 1,200 allied troops from the First World War (WWI) are laid to rest.
Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, AO, DSC, will join with members of the Australian Defence Force to participate in the commemorative services.
Lieutenant General Campbell said the Battle of Beersheba was significant to WWI as it enabled the British Empire forces to break the Ottoman line and advance into Palestine.
“The 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments of the 4th Light Horse Brigade famously charged the town of Be’er-Sheva across open ground against enemy forces,” Lieutenant General Campbell said.
“The New Zealand Army also made a significant contribution, fighting for almost 24 hours to secure the high ground of Tel el Saba which overlooked the approach.
“Without support from the New Zealand Army the charge would have been decimated.
“With the backdrop of significant losses in Gallipoli and the Western Front, the Battle of Beersheba saw comparatively few casualties—the courage and desperation of the Light Horsemen saw them triumph in a daring charge that forever earned them a place in Australia’s history.”
For the first time in 100 years, the guidons of the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments —insignia that represents the battle history of a unit — return to where the famous mounted charge took place.
Four Australian Army units affiliated with the Battle of Beersheba, 2nd Calvary Regiment, 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry), 4th/19th Prince of Wales’ Light Horse Regiment and the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers, will also take part in the commemoration as custodians of the Light Horse legacy.
Two Australian Army members, Corporal Rob Conway and Lieutenant Ryan Abil, participated in the three day ride along the Anzac trail, which followed the exact route taken by the Light Horsemen 100 years ago. Both members will also take part in a re-enactment of the historical charge.
“As part of the preparations for this trip, I actually had to learn how to ride a horse,” Corporal Conway said.
“This learning process was indeed a challenge. But I feel very humbled and very honoured to have been selected for this trip.
“I look forward to following the footsteps of the Light Horsemen who went before us and experiencing just a fraction of what they did, on a day-to-day basis.”
Lieutenant General Campbell said the men and women of the Australian Army today carry with them the Light Horse legacy.
“The cavalry soldiers of the modern Army carry the values and professionalism of the men who served a century ago,” Lieutenant General Campbell said.
“Today's soldiers share the same commitment to their mates and desire to look after their steed – today’s armoured vehicles—as their forebears did 100 years ago.”
Imagery of the Beersheba Commemorative services will be available at: https://images.defence.gov.au/S20172389
Defence Media (02) 6127 1999, media [at] defence.gov.au