Cen­te­nary ser­vice for Bat­tle of Beer­sheba

Guardian Express - - CITY OF STIRLING - By 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.

About 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, the Aus­tralians wield­ing bay­o­nets from their riles as the Turks fired high, across about 6km of desert plain to cap­ture the vi­tal town in the Si­nai-Pales­tine Cam­paign.

Just three days later, Bri­tish politi­cians were writ­ing poli­cies which would be­come the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion of 1920 that 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, in daily dust, heat, flies, bul­lets and of­ten wa­ter­less con­di­tions.

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

How­ever, the legacy of the Bat­tle of Beer­sheba still con­tin­ues 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

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

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