100 years since defending the town of Beersheba
ON October 31, 1917, the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade was commanded to charge directly at Turkish forces defending the town of Beersheba, in what was then Palestine.
Described as one of the most brilliant cavalry operations in history, and the last great charge of its kind, the Battle of Beersheba has entered Australian folklore for its daring and success against the odds.
Last week the nation commemorated 100 years since the famous charge, with services held across the country, and Prime Minister travelling to Beersheba, in what is now Israel, to attend a service at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The victory at Beersheba resulted in the capture of over 700 enemy troops, and was a crucial part of the Palestine Offensive, which pushed Turkish troops back from British controlled territory.
Some 36 Australian chargers were killed in action, including local Victoria Cross winner Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Maygar.
Euroa has a very special, living connection with the charge of the light horse.
Doris Johnson, whose late husband Major Neville Johnson was one of those who rode into battle at Beersheba a century ago.
At 94, Doris is now the last remaining widow of a Beersheba veteran.
Doris is a resident of Granite Hill aged care in Euroa, and since her husband’s death in 1979, has been supported by Legacy.
In honour of her husband’s service at Beersheba, members of the Euroa RSL, Benalla, Violet Town and Euroa Legacy group, and her local church paid a visit to Doris in Granite Hill to mark the centenary with flowers and a prayer.
While Doris’ age means that she is unable to communicate as well as she once did, she was able to express her gratitude that so many had come to pay their respects to Len and all those who served at Beersheba.
The flowers presented to Doris were adorned with yellow and purple flowers. The yellow, to represent the sands of Palestine, and the purple to commemorate the 97 years of commitment Legacy has given to the families of those who served their country in times of war.
CHARGER: Granite Hill resident Doris Johnson’s husband Major Len Johnson was one of those who made the charge to capture the ‘wells of Beersheba’ during the Great War. October 31 marked 100 years since the famous charge.