century on, charge of the Australian light cavalry
remembered in Israel
Send a link to a friend
[November 01, 2017]
By Rami Amichay
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Reuters)
- An "Australian light horse brigade" of history
enthusiasts rode through the Israeli desert town of
Beersheba on Tuesday to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of a World War One cavalry charge that
helped reshape the Middle East.
The victory by the Australia and New Zealand
Corps (ANZAC) in the Battle of Beersheba, a biblical town in
what was Ottoman Palestine in 1917, broke a strategic Turkish
defense line and led to the conquest of the Holy Land by British
Dozens of history buffs, including descendents of the soldiers
of the 4th Brigade of the Australian Light Horse, the cavalry
force that charged the Turkish positions, came to Beersheba to
parade on horseback through the streets and stage a
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a memorial
ceremony in the city also attended by his Australian
counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, and New Zealand Governor-General
Patsy Redding, said the Oct. 31 battle was an important part of
a history line that led to Israel's creation in 1948.
The victory in Beersheba was followed two days later by a
British government endorsement of "the establishment in
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people".
Palestinians have long condemned the Balfour Declaration - named
after Arthur Balfour, then the British foreign secretary - as a
promise by Britain to hand over land that it did not own.
But Israelis celebrate it as one of the key moments in creating
the modern state of Israel.
[to top of second column]
"Exactly 100 years ago, brave ANZAC soldiers liberated Beersheba for
the sons and daughters of Abraham and opened the gateway for the
Jewish people to re-enter the stage of history. The heroism of your
fallen men will never be forgotten," Netanyahu said.
Hundreds of Turkish soldiers and 31 Australian troops were killed in
the cavalry charge, part of a campaign to capture Beersheba and
water resources in the town, whose Hebrew name refers to a well
claimed by the Patriarch Abraham in Genesis.
"The Australian Light Horse were not meant to fight on horseback -
they were mounted infantry, and they were to ride to the battle,
dismount. One man would hold the horses, three others would go in
and fight like infantry," Turnbull said at the memorial ceremony.
But as water was short, they had no choice but to push for a quick
victory, he said, describing the attack as "the last great cavalry
charge in history".
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.