Events across Australia and in the Middle East are marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba and the pivotal part played by the Australian Light Horsemen.

Story John Dunn

On October 31 it will be 100 years since the Battle of Beersheba, part of the wider British World War I offensive collectively known as the third Battle of Gaza. The final phase of this all-day battle was the famous mounted charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade, a mounted infantry brigade of the First Australian Imperial Force serving in the Middle East. At dusk, members of the brigade stormed the Turkish defences and seized the strategic town of Beersheba. Its capture enabled British Empire forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza on November 7 and advance into Palestine (now Israel). 

The charge will be re-enacted on that spot by a group from the Australian Light Horse Association as part of a wider commemoration. It will be remembered at the same time across Australia by many events and ceremonies, almost all involving horses and horsemen because this cavalry campaign was a unique strategic thrust in a conflict largely dominated by infantry and artillery. 

“Beersheba is such an important part of our military history,” says Barry Rodgers, a director of the Australian Light Horse Association. “It was a most difficult operation but a glorious one and it deserves to be celebrated.” Barry, who runs an adventure education program at Helidon in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley, will lead the Beersheba re-enactment just as he did on its 90th anniversary.

This story excerpt is from Issue #115

Outback Magazine: October/November 2017