90 Years today 31st October 1917

Discussion in 'World War I' started by Emac44, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. Emac44

    Emac44 Active Member

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    Fall of Beersheba to the Allies 31st October 1917. Infamous charge by Australian Lighthorse. Successful attack on Beersheba and finally a successful conclusion to the 3rd Battles of Gaza by British and Commonwealth Forces, Consided a turning point to the Battles for Gaza

    Beersheba 31 October 1917
     
  2. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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  3. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Aussies re-enact famous Beersheba charge : thewest.com.au
    Ninety years ago to the day, they set out at full gallop towards the Turkish guns in what one historian called a "crazed" charge.

    This time, those re-enacting the famous charge of the Light Horse Regiments in the Battle of Beersheba in 1917 broke into little more than a gentle canter.

    Still, it was hot and dusty and some of those dressed in heavy woollen period uniforms, complete with slouch hats adorned with emu feathers, and carrying World War I issue rifles, were no longer young men.

    Nor was the reception as hostile.

    Instead of Turkish artillery, the 50 or so members of the Australian Light Horse Association, and others, were greeted by cheering Israelis as they rode into what was then known as Beersheba, now the Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, on the edge of the Negev Desert.

    In all, nearly 1,000 Australians, New Zealanders, Israelis, Britons and others gathered to honour the Australian Light Horse Brigade, whose last-ditch, seemingly near-suicidal charge against the Turks on October 31, 1917, was a turning point in World War I and helped pave the way for the creation of the state of Israel.

    The proceedings began with memorial services at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, continued with a memorial for fallen Turks who defended Be'er Sheva against attacking Australians and New Zealanders, and ended with a re-enactment of the dramatic charge.

    Those who rode ranged in age from 18 to 80, and some were descendants of those involved in one of the last great cavalry charges, before modern warfare made horses irrelevant.

    For Grant Pike, of Rainbow Flat in NSW, the re-enactment held a special significance - his great-uncle Harold Seale survived the charge.

    Not all did. After the first memorial service, Pike knelt at the grave of George Cooke, one of around 30 Australians who died.

    "This man was a friend of my great uncle," Pike explained.

    He displayed a photograph of the fallen soldier, on the back of which Pike's great-uncle had scrawled: "George, who was killed in our charge in Be'er Sheva".

    Trooper Cooke was just 22 when he died. His family chose his epitaph "Duty Nobly Done".

    "I'm very honoured to be here," Pike said.

    "It reminds us to be grateful for what we have, and not to take things for granted."

    Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Meachem, of Temora in NSW, is serving with the United Nations observer force at the Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Syria borders.

    Standing in the dusty field known as Sarah Valley, waiting for the Light Horse charge re-enactment to begin, he said: "As a serving Australian soldier, this is an amazing opportunity".

    "The interesting thing is how long Australians have been serving here.

    "We're standing at graves of soldiers who died 90 years ago, and here we are, still in uniform, still trying to solve the problems in the region."

    As with Gallipoli, the sites of old battles are increasingly drawing younger Australians keen to learn of the exploits of their forebears.

    "It's one of the few times we get to be really patriotic," said Heidi Le Lievre, 22, an Australian "traveller and temp" in Israel to visit a friend working at the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

    "Seeing how hard the light horse society worked to be here, and their attention to detail, and to have so many people here and so many nations represented, is encouraging.

    "It's good to see that the contributions of these soldiers is acknowledged. It does make one proud to be an Australian."

    Speakers at the ceremonies included the mayor of Be'er Sheva, the ambassadors of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, and representatives of the Australian Light Horse Association and the Israeli World War I Society.

    They spoke of the bravery of the fallen soldiers, the hope for peace in the region, and the opportunity, as Australian Ambassador James Larsen put it, "to give thanks that those we once fought here are now our friends".

    Despite the heat and the sense of ceremony, the mood of the day was friendly and festive, as those re-creating the charge paraded through Be'er Sheva and posed for photographs with locals.

    "It's great for the people who live in Be'er Sheva that finally something exciting is happening here," said 15-year-old Eliza Frankel.

    "We see the [commonwealth] cemetery and the monument [to fallen Turks], and now we appreciate it."

    The charge by the 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse Regiments has passed into legend.

    The attack on what was then an outpost of the Ottoman empire was launched to outflank the Turkish bastion of Gaza, against which two previous attacks had failed.

    The Australian Light Horse managed to do what no one else had managed for hundreds of years: they overthrew Turkish forces controlling the Gaza-Be'er Sheva line, paving the way for commonwealth forces to reach Jerusalem.

    Though an obscure location by almost any measure, Be'er Sheva, named for the water wells which were said to have been dug by Abraham, was strategically crucial because of its water supplies.

    With water running out among the commonwealth forces, Light Horse commander, Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel, ordered his men to storm Be'er Sheva before nightfall on October 31, or to die trying.

    The Light Horse - who were mounted infantry rather than cavalry - set off, galloping, as usual, to a point 1,500 metres from the Turkish trenches.

    But rather than stopping to dismount to fight on foot, as they normally would, the 800 horsemen continued at full gallop toward - and then directly over - the Turks and their guns.

    Riding at full speed, the Light Horse overran the Turkish lines before the defenders were able to adjust their artillery.

    It was all over in less than an hour, with relatively few casualties.

    The survivors later formed the honour guard for the British commander, Field Marshal Edmund Allenby, on his victory march into Jerusalem.

    The 90th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba was also marked in Australia.

    In Sydney, NSW Governor Marie Bashir unveiled a plaque commemorating the battle at 4.30pm - the same time the Light Horse began their charge.

    At the same ceremony, John Cox presented the World War I and Boer War medals won by his father, the light horseman Arthur Cox, to the Australian War Memorial.

    "We think that by giving the medals to the memorial to be displayed then more people will be able to see them and then more people may realise just what we owe to those blokes who went away and fought and were willing to die for us to save our country and to save our ideals," Cox told AAP.

    He said Beersheba was a greater cavalry attack than the more famous Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854, during the Crimean War.

    "It's a shame that it is not taught to many of our children at school and most people haven't even heard of it," Cox said.

    "Yet those 800 men did what the crusaders couldn't do, they did what the soldiers of a number of armies couldn't do and that is they defeated the mighty Turkish army.

    "By winning that they shortened the war."

    AAP


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  4. Elvis

    Elvis Member

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    I've had that movie for a number of years now.
    Great flick. Didn't even think about the date, in relation to this year.

    Whatever happened to the Light Horse? Were they soaked up into the Tank Corps, or what?



    Elvis
     
  5. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    I've only just read this thread, and watched the video Wildcat post - excellent. And I have to say that I'm grateful the ANZACs were on the British side, brave men - brave deeds. :salute:
     
  6. Emac44

    Emac44 Active Member

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    The LightHorse became mechanized years ago of course Elvis. For example 2nd/14th Armoured Mounted Infantry in Queensland as the LightHorse were mounted Infantry not Cavalry so they didn't progress to Tank Corp but still remained Mounted Infantry swapping the Horse for an APC etc. But even saying that Elvis the Armoured Mounted Infantry still maintains the Whaler as their Mascots. But there is also a Light Horse Website and also a group who dedicates to the memory of the LightHorse. Every ANZAC Day or Memorial Day or dedication ceremonies etc for WW1 and WW2 Veterans you see the members of the LightHorse Society there in full uniform of the period from WW1 along with the Whaler (Horse) on parade. They lead the parades or form Honour Guards when required. They are a highly visual reminder of the LightHorse from World War 1 and all branches of the Army from WW1 not just the Light Horse

    For example when the LightHorse appear on ANZAC Day. They draw immediate attention and focuses Australians minds on all veterans from not only WW1 but also WW2 Vietnam Korea Malaya Borneo and any conflict Australians have been in since Federation from 1901. And we also remember our Colonial Past as well. As it was the Bushman who opened our country up to settlement and the explorers who explored Australia. So its just not a Military observance Elvis but historical as well in other areas. The Whaler the Light Horses steed of battle plays a significant part of the history as well. Including poetry from the Australian Outback. For example the poem the Man from Snowey River. The LightHorse forms a part of our History in Australia not only in war but our historical basis as well Elvis. These men of the LightHorse were originally Stockmen Bushmen Cattle Drovers Sheep Drovers etc But when War came they become and volunteered for duty as the centre of the Light Horse Mounted Infantry. If Australians were to forget the exploits of the Light Horse we have then to forget our heritage of peace time as well. Both the peace time history of Australia and the LightHorse History are linked together so tightly it is a part of Australian Culture and History since the Whiteman arrived in Australia and settled this country. Seeing the LightHorse on parade reminds us not only of WAR but reminds us of our Colonial past Elvis. I hope that explains the Traditons and values we as Australians value of our Veterans and our Military and Peace Time History Elvis.

    Australian Light Horse Association

    Elvis that is the website for the LightHorse Association in Australia. Hope you find it infromative and helpful
     
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