Topic: AIF - 4B - 12 LHR
The Battle of Beersheba
Palestine, 31 October 1917
12th ALHR Beersheba Post Battle Report, 31 October 1917.
After the victory at Beersheba on 31 October 1917, the Commanding Officer of the 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Donald Cameron wrote his post battle summary which is transcribed below.
Report of the assault on Beersheba on 31 October 1917
1545 - Received orders to saddle up and get ready to move immediately. The Regiment had previously moved into the concentration area of Iswaiwin with the Brigade at 1130 and off saddled, fed horses and men.
1600 - General Officer Commanding 4th LH Brigade sent for Commanding Officers and Seconds in Command. On reporting to Brigade Headquarters orders were received that the 4th and 12th LH Regiment would attack Beersheba commence at once.
1630 - The 4th and 12th LH Regtiments deployed from a point 1 mile N of Pt 1280. The 12th Regiment moved with "A" Squadron in advance in line extended to 5 yards with right flank in vicinity of and south of flank track W and connecting with the 4th LH Regiment. "B" Squadron moved in the same formation 300 yards in rear of "A" Squadron. Headquarters, "C" Squadron and 1 sub-section of Machine Gun Squadron moved in line of troop column 300 yards in rear of "B" Squadron. The Regiment moved on Beersheba at the gallop. Heavy enemy rifle and machine gun fire developed on the left flank from the vicinity of 1180. This fire was silenced by artillery. The leading Squadron came under very heavy rifle fire and machine gun fire from the trenches in (see note at foot). On reaching a point about 100 yards from these trenches one Troop of "A" Squadron dismounted for action, and the remainder of the Squadron galloped on, leaving the trenches on the right. "B" and "C" Squadrons followed this route. The trenches were left to the Troop that dismounted. The Regiment, less 1 troop, kept straight on to Beersheba. Headquarters and "C" Squadron were halted about 1 mile from Beersheba and held in support in a Wadi under cover. "A" and "B" Squadrons less 1 troop entered Beersheba along the Asluj - Beersheba road. At the crossing of the Wadi Saba the pace of the leading file was checked to enable an accommodation of pace. Both Squadrons entered Beersheba in a body. When reaching the red brick building in the vicinity of the Mosque the greater portion of the force under Captain Jack Rupert Cyril Davis moved to the right leaving the mosque on the left thence to a point about 200 yards south of railway station. Thence across railway line making a turning movement to the right finishing in the vicinity of a building with an oval roof on the northern outskirts of Beersheba. A party of 6 men galloped in front General Headquarters (Turkish). One troop under Lieutenant Rodney Keith Robey and Second Lieutenant Edward Alfred Mulford skirted the town on the left. The whole rallying in the main body while Captain Jack Rupert Cyril Davis on the northern outskirts turned about checked and held up the enemy force which was escaping in a northerly direction. The greater part of the enemy immediately surrendered. 9 Guns attempted to escape but were retaken complete.
One troop under Major Eric Montague Hyman (after half an hours action) and and cleared the enemy in the trenches east of Beersheba. About 60 of these enemy, including 3 officers tried to escape by were intercepted by a troop of our "C" Squadron and taken prisoners. "C" Squadron then moved up to the angle of the railway into the vicinity of the viaduct.
All prisoners were rounded up in the angle of the above railway and counted. Defensive positions were taken up at the pumping station and preparations made for all round defence. Major Eric Montague Hyman consolidated the redoubt east of Beersheba in anticipation of a counter attack from the south-west and held the positioons all night. The picquets in the vicinity of the pumping station were withdrawing at 2300 when Brigade Headquarters arrived and took over. A patrol of 1 NCO and 8 men was sent out at 2300 and made a reconnaissance in a south-west direction returning a 0300 bringing in 23 prisoners and reporting "All clear."
In all, 38 Officers and 700 Other Ranks were taken, 9 guns, 3 machine guns and a large quantity of various war material including rolling stock, transport vehicles and animals were captured.
Further Reading:12th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour