Stu­dents hon­our Beer­sheba bat­tle

Eastern Reporter - - News - Jon Bas­sett

THE sig­nif­i­cance of the Aus­tralian light horse cav­alry charge in what is now Is­rael brought Year 10 Carmel School stu­dents from Dianella to the cen­te­nary ser­vice for the 1917 Bat­tle of Beer­sheba in Kings Park last week.

“With­out the Aus­tralian light horse sol­diers tak­ing Beer­sheba the Turk­ish Ot­toman Em­pire would have still held that area, and Jewish peo­ple use that bat­tle as the point at which the process of cre­at­ing the modern Is­raeli state started,” stu­dent Sa­muel Ma­jzner (15) said.

Sa­muel and other stu­dents vis­ited the Park of the Aus­tralian Sol­dier in Beer­sheba dur­ing a re­cent trip to Is­rael.

At 5pm on Oc­to­ber 31, 1917, about 800 Aus­tralian sol­diers of the 4th and 12th Light Horse reg­i­ments were or­dered not to con­duct their usual tac­tic of dis­mount­ing and fight­ing on foot.

They and their horses in­stead charged dug-in Turk­ish lines at full gal­lop. Across about 6km of desert plain Aus­tralians wielded bay­o­nets as the Turks fired high. The fierce bat­tle led to the Aus­tralians cap­tur­ing the vi­tal town in the Si­naiPales­tine Cam­paign.

Just three days later, Bri­tish politi­cians were writ­ing poli­cies which would be­come the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion of 1920 which set in mo­tion the even­tual cre­ation of Is­rael in 1948.

For the Aus­tralians, the charge be­came leg­endary af­ter the de­feat of Gal­lipoli and the car­nage of the West­ern Front in France, and prompted at least two films de­pict­ing the charge.

Each horse car­ried about 120kg in ad­di­tion to its rider, in­clud­ing am­mu­ni­tion, bedroll and food amid dust, heat, flies, bul­lets and of­ten wa­ter­less con­di­tions.

“When you go into the his­tory, what we went through was noth­ing com­pared with what those blokes did,” Viet­nam War vet­eran and Kala­munda Pin­jarra 10th Lighthorse Memo­rial Troop mem­ber Barry O’Neil said.

The legacy of the Bat­tle of Beer­sheba con­tin­ues also for some of the sol­diers’ fam­i­lies and rel­a­tives 100 years later.

Dianella res­i­dents Joy (90) and John Palmer (95) at­tended the Kings Park ser­vice to re­mem­ber Mrs Palmer’s fa­ther, Carl­ton Cow­per, who left for Gal­lipoli aged 26 and was in the 4th Field Am­bu­lance at Beer­sheba be­fore re­turn­ing home suf­fer­ing some trauma from the war.

“It was very sad, Mum was just six months when her dad left the fam­ily,” Mrs Palmer’s daugh­ter Robyn Allpike said.


Carmel School stu­dents (from left) Sa­muel Ma­jzner, Avi Mar­go­lis, Adam Sil­bert and Daniel Raiter meet the Kala­munda-Pin­jarra 10th Light Horse Memo­rial Troop. FIRST RE­PORTED AT

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