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Sunday, 12 October 2008
The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, 5th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Topic: AIF - 2B - 5 LHR

The Battle of Beersheba

Palestine, 31 October 1917

5th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

 

5th Light Horse Regiment on the march


Brigadier General Lachlan Chisholm Wilson and Captain Henry Wetherell, collaborated to produce a unit history published in 1926 called History Of The Fifth Light Horse Regiment, 1914 - 1919 which included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and is extracted below. A copy of this book is available on the Lost Leaders of Anzacs website.

Wilson, L.C. and Wetherell, H., History Of The Fifth Light Horse Regiment, 1914 - 1919, Motor Press, Sydney, 1926, pp 127-8:

   

PART II. By CAPTAIN H. WETHERELL.

CHAPTER 30. BEERSHEBA TO JERUSALEM. (October to December, 1917)

[127] On the departure of Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson, Lieutenant-Colonel D. C. Cameron took over the command.

The plan for the attack on Beersheba on October 31st, 1917, was briefly as follows:-The 60th and 74th Infantry Divisions were to attack the outer defences on the west and south-west and, having captured them, were to hold the high ground west of the town. Meanwhile, the Anzac and the Australian Mounted Divisions, starting respectively from Asluj and Khalassa were to march during the night right round the enemy left flank, and attack the town from the north-east. The 7th Mounted Brigade, marching direct from Esani, had the duty of masking the strongly entrenched southern end of the outer defences. To the cavalry, thus fell the task of seizing the town of Beersheba itself.

On the night of 30th October, the full Regiment ("B" Squadron having returned from outpost duty with the Canal Brigade) started with three days' rations from Asluj with the Anzac Division for the attack on Beersheba, a distance of 25 miles. The country traversed was difficult and was unknown to us and the maps lacked detail. But there was a bright moon, and no serious enemy opposition was encountered. At dawn next morning the Brigade attacked the entrenched hill of Tel-el-Sakaty, which was captured about one o'clock, and half an hour later were astride the Hebron-Beersheba Road, The general battle, however, lasted all day, and as the resistance increased the Division was reinforced by the 3rd Brigade [128] under our old commanding officer. New reinforcements from Hebron had to be held up and the strong position of Tel-el-Saba was not captured by the Division until late in 'the afternoon. If Beersheba were not taken by nightfall, we should have been in serious straits among other things for water, but the brilliant charge of the 4th Brigade at dusk over successive lines of trenches finally captured the position.

Having watered our horses during the night at Beersheba wells, the Regiment was detached next morning and ordered to reconnoitre in the Judean Hills towards Hebron, in the direction of Dhaheriyeh. On reaching a point near Makruneh, the enemy were found to be holding the ridges in some strength and they opened fire with two guns and machine guns. They had created a new flank based on the commanding position of Khuweilfe. In the afternoon the Regiment moved forward to reconnoitre Deir Suideh, but found the enemy holding a strong position, which checked our advance. A withdrawal was made to B.H.Q. at dusk, where we watered and bivouacked for the night.. The following days, from the 2nd November to the 5th November, further reconnaissances with the full Brigade were made, and at night touch was maintained with the enemy who were still holding the hills in strength. It had been the intention on the 3rd to attack if possible and work round the enemy's left flank. The country, however, was extraordinarily rugged and difficult, and in many places the horses had to be led up and down the hills. Enemy reinforcements could be seen hurrying down the Hebron Road in motor lorries. We were shelled most accurately during these days although we had good cover, and it was apparent that Bedouin spies were at work. On the 5th four guns concentrated their fire on us and caused casualties-nine men wounded, 14 horses killed and 17 horses wounded.

 

Further Reading:

5th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF

5th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour

The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, 5th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

Posted by Project Leader at 5:22 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 3 October 2009 10:32 AM EADT

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