Topic: AIF - 1B - 3 LHR
The Battle of Beersheba
Palestine, 31 October 1917
3rd LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
[AWM Picture P05109.004]
Frank M Blackwell and DR Douglas produced a unit history in 1950 called The Story of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment. This story has subsequently been reprinted by Lieutenant Colonel Neil C. Smith AM with upgraded information in which included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and extracted below.
Smith AM, Lieut-Col NC, THE THIRD AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE REGIMENT 1914-1918 - A Short History And Listing Of Those who Served, (Melbourne 1993), pp. 61-2:
At 1830 on 30th the Anzac Mounted Division left Asluj and marched NE, the object being to envelope and attack Beersheba from the East and North East in co-operation with other Brigades attacking from the South. At 0300 we halted for half an hour, and horses and men had a hurried meal. At 0800, point 1390, situated North East of Beersheba, was reached, and from here the Regiment was sent forward, the objective being Tel el Saba, which was seen to be strongly held by the enemy with several machine guns, which were placed in stone huts and sangars, and were thus well protected from our fire from all quarters.
Two Squadron advanced mounted till within about 1200 yards under heavy fire, they of their objective when, coming under covering fire they dismounted and advanced on foot, the horses being placed under cover in the Wadi. The Auckland Mounted Rifles cooperating on our right the attack was pushed home under covering fire from our artillery, which did excellent work in dislodging machine guns. We advanced in short rushes down each bank of the Wadi, both of which being very flat were swept by Machine Gun and Rifle fire; a bravery and utter disregard of danger was shown by the stretcher bearers in dressing and attending to the wounded on these exposed positions.
Lance Corporal A.C. Rodgers, medical detail, and Trooper T.R. Hogarth, the latter being posthumously awarded the MM, were killed. The enemy surrendered upon the final assault being made. Lieutenant M.R. Sandland, of A Squadron, was killed during the attack. Our causalities were one officer and 10 other ranks killed, and 18 other ranks wounded.
Upon Tel el Saba being captured the horses were brought up the Wadi, and evidently were observed by the enemy, who concentrated the fire of two batteries of 77 mm guns upon the Wadi near Tel el Saba, but we were able to get the horses away before many casualties had occurred among them. Owing to rain having fallen a few days before there was an abundance of surface water available so that we were able to water the horse and replenish water bottles. While watering in the Wadi several enemy planes bombed us, but failed to do any damage.
The Regiment then moved to Point 960 and bivouacked, having previously despatched a Squadron to Beersheba to get in touch with the 1st Regiment. This Squadron returned at 2200. During the day our transport which had been left at Point 1300 were heavily bombed by enemy planes, the casualties being four Other Ranks killed and five wounded, 10 horses killed and seven wounded.
The Regiment remained in bivouac on 1st November, parties were sent out to collect tibben, which was found in large quantities. Quantities of war material were also found. The surface pools having been used up it now became necessary to water the horses at Beersheba; here all of the wells had been destroyed by the enemy, with the exception of one, and thus the horses of all units had to be watered at the one place, which meant great congestion at the water area day and night. This presented a splendid target for enemy planes, who were particularly active during these operations, and did a great deal of bombing. Machine Guns and Hotchkiss Rifles were used against them, and had the affect of keeping them at a high altitude, and occasionally brought one down.
Citation: The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, 3rd LHR, AIF, Unit History Account