100 years since de­fend­ing the town of Beer­sheba

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS - By WILL MUR­RAY

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.

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