Topic: BatzP - Beersheba
The Battle of Beersheba
Palestine, 31 October 1917
[Auchterlonie, Dad's war stuff: the diaries, p. 68.]
During the Great War, George Auchterlonie (1887-1949), a member of the 8th LHR, maintained a diary of his day to day life during the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns. In 2001, his daughter, Gloria Auchterlonie edited the diaries and published them. Within the diary is included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and is extracted below.
Auchterlonie, G. ed., Dad's war stuff: the diaries - Complete personal diary entries and selected phototographs of George Auchterlonie an Australian Lighthorseman, who served in the 8th Lighthorse Regiment in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine during World War 1, Morwell 2001, pp. 54-5:
29 October. Left camp yesterday at 3.30 but didnt go far till dark, then moved on as escort to a transport column, miles of it. Pulled up from ten till two, Then on another hour campg on the wadi near Esani All the donkeys were ridden & it was an odd sight. There is a great movement of troops from Fara up this way, & supplies are being brought out by dozens of caterpiller tractors. these are splendid for this country but are very slow. We are carrying 2 days emergency rations & horse feed so have heavy loads.
30 October. Left Esani at 5 last night & went to Khalasa Were to have camped there but an alteration was made, & we left here at 0130 & went 9 miles to Asluj, stopping the day near the railway bridge blown up some months ago Understand that our regt is temporarily attached m the Anzac Div. Couldn't get any sleep.
31 October. At five o'clock last night we were ready for the track again with a 27 mile ride ahead. Had operations explained re attack of Beersheba today, bit did not leave for some time owing to the number of troops moving. We rode all night with practically no sleep & at times very slow with many halts Went NE then NW till on the East side of Beersheba. After day break we advanced on to a ridge overlookmg the old town & I am writing this while on a post over looking & giving a splendid new. The infantry are operating from the other side & a heavy bombardment is going on. The Mtd Div have advanced on to a great flat & their batteries pouring it in to Tel el Sheba (Saba). Our horses we very tired & leg weary & short of feed, while we are on halfration & emergency stuff. A deserted Bedouin camp is near & we got a feed of barley for the rags & also water for ourselves. Beersheba appears to have a few buildings, a big one of three stories, the usual minaret & a lot of hovels.
1 November: Left the post I was on yesterday just as the Anzac Div were getting round Tel el Saba & went to the left by that time they had taken the hill. Believe their casualties were heavy & they lost a lot of horses with machine guns in the mud houses. Towards evening we were relieved by the 11th who were to take the small redoubt in front after dark. We then went back to Div HQrs & were going to water when a taube came over unobserved & emptied his load of bombs. Talk about confusion, horses galloping everywhere, we handed over & pumped thousands of shots into him, but he returned & dived, emptying his machine gun into us, then departed. Soon found that the regt. was extremely lucky, tho Col Maygar, who only rejoined us two day' ago, was badly hit in leg & arm, & we hear he will lose the latter. Capt Sproat & groom were also slightly hit. Jack Gallagher was hit earlier in the day. Just behind us there were three killed & several wounded. A great number of horses had to be shot, while motor cars & water carts were bloom up. In our troop several horses were grazed. We then went down & watered at pools in Wadi Saba & camped the night near there at 10. Had to go on outpost so had another broken night. Stood to at 4.30 this morning d moved off at 8. Only went down the Wadi a mile or two & camped the day. Everything was quiet last night & today & we find the 9th & 10th are in the town, while the inf. have taken some positions & 1900 prisoners, one redoubt still undertaken but practically surrounded. Also 16 guns taken. Aust's have 250 prisoners & may have more. We got plenty of barley & tibbin from Bedouins, stored in holes in the ground & covered over with straw & dirt. Their fowls also suffered. Four Commissions came out by wire when at Asluj, Sgts Paterson, Williams, Jenner & L/Cpl Moore.
Citation: The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, Auchterlonie Account