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Friday, 17 October 2008
The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, Foster Account
Topic: BatzP - Beersheba

The Battle of Beersheba

Palestine, 31 October 1917

Foster Account

 

Beersheba at 4.30pm, 31 October 1917

[From: Foster, Operations of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine from 28th October 1917 to 31st December 1917, facing p. 62.]

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

Five years after the conclusion of the Great War, the Australian Army commissioned Brevet Colonel WJ Foster to produce an account of the Third Battle of Gaza for military training purposes. The resulting book was published in Melbourne, 1924 called: Operations of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine from 28th October 1917 to 31st December 1917: together with a precis of events prior to the 3rd Battle of Gaza, which included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and is extracted below.  

 

Foster, WJ, Operations of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine from 28th October 1917 to 31st December 1917, (Melbourne 1924) pp. 56 - 72:

 

CHAPTER VII - THE BATTLE OF BEERSHEBA

[56] In the assault on Beersheba the XX Corps was to strike north-east between the Khalasa-Beersheba road on their right and the railway on their left. The Wadi Saba, after clearing the town on its way east to the Ghuzze, ran through this sector on the railway side. The attack was intended to draw the main strength of the Turks to oppose the infantry and so let the cavalry enter the town practically unopposed from the east. The Turk held Beersheba with his 27th Division, reinforced by a few battalions from the 16th and 24th Divisions. His defences extended from Tel el Saba through a series of detached groups of trenches round the south and south-west. These earthworks were placed on commanding positions with good zones of fire, but on the east and south-east they were not protected by wire and, as trenches, they were inferior to those farther west.

The village of Beersheba in itself offered no facilities for a prolonged defence. It lies in a shallow saucer at the foot of the Judean Hills, which rise abruptly from its outskirts to the north, with high ground also to the east and south-east.

The Turks had clearly reckoned on the safety which the absence of water on the British side apparently gave to the town; they were prepared for a raid by one cavalry and one infantry division, but they certainly had not prepared for such a force as was speeding forward on the night of October 30th/31st.

The conditions governing that night march were extremely difficult. A brilliant moon lit up the whole country. The day had been extremely hot, and at sunset an entire absence of wind promised that the night march of nearly 40,000 troops of all arms would be attended by all the discomfort of heat and dust. The thermometer fell, but there was not a breath of wind to shift the pall of dust which hung above the long columns of horse, foot, and guns. Men's faces became caked with the yellow dust, their nostrils were hot and burning, and parched [57] throats could not be relieved because of the necessity of conserving the water allowance, and, as yet, the uncertainty of water on the morrow.

ACTION OF THE XX CORPS.

The infantry were ordered to be on their line of deployment by 0400 hours on October 31st, and in every case they were before time. There had been many reconnaissances by officers, who were to act as guides to columns, and they were quite familiar with the ground; guns and ammunition columns were taken by routes which had been carefully selected and marked. In places the banks of the wadis had been cut into and ramps made to enable the rough stony water-courses to be practicable for wheels, and, broken as the country was, and though all previous preparations had to be made without arousing the suspicions of the enemy and wandering Bedouins, there was no incident to check the progress of the infantry or guns. Occasional rifle-fire and some shelling occurred during the early hours, but a little after 0300 hours on October 31st the XX Corps advanced headquarters were able to report that all its columns had reached their allotted positions.

The XX Corps plan was to attack the enemy's works between the Khalasa road and the Wadi Saba, with the 60th and 74th Divisions, while the defences north of the Wadi Saba were to be masked by the Imperial Camel Brigade and two battalions of the 53rd Division, the remainder of the latter division protecting the left flank of the corps from any attack by enemy troops who might move from the Sheria area.

The first objective was the Hill 1070, an advanced enemy post about 6,000 yards south-west of Beersheba, and held in some strength by the Turks. It was a prominent feature. 500 yards from a portion of the enemy's main line. The height was of importance, as it gave good observation of the enemy's main line of works, and it had to be gained in order to allow of the advance of the field artillery within wire-cutting range of an elaborate system of works protecting Beersheba from an advance from the west.

At 0555 hours on the morning of October 31st the artillery of the 60th and 74th Divisions commenced to bombard the enemy's positions on a front of some 4, 500 yards. In all there [58] were in action seventy-six 18-pdrs., twenty 4.5 -inch howitzers, while eight 60-pdrs., eight 6-inch howitzers, and four 4.5-inch howitzers were employed in counter-battery work. The concern of the garrison was quickly evident. The quiet township started suddenly into activity, and troops and transport were rushed to the threatened points. The absence of wind placed the gunners at a heavy disadvantage. The high-explosive shells bursting about the crest of Hill 1070 raised enormous clouds of dust which obscured everything, and after a short while even the flames of exploding shells were entirely hidden from view. The gunners had to stop firing for three-quarters of an hour to allow the dust to settle. They then re-opened, and at 0830 hours the wire-cutting was reported completed. Immediately an intense bombardment opened up, and under cover of which, and with the assistance of machine-gun fire from aeroplanes, the 181st Infantry Brigade went forward to the assault. The brigade captured the hill in ten minutes, only sustaining about one hundred casualties, and taking nearly as many prisoners. It was found that every enemy machine-gun had been knocked out by the artillery. The first phase of the operations having thus ended successfully quite early in the day, the second stage was entered upon. The guns were rushed forward over the broken ground to bring them within range of the Turkish main defences. Although the teams were exposed to heavy shrapnel fire during the advance, the guns were swung into action at pre-arranged points and set about wire-cutting with excellent effect. The first part of the second phase consisted in reducing the enemy's main line from the Khalasa road to the Wadi Saba, though the artillery bombarded the whole line. The 60th Division on the right had two brigades attacking and one in divisional reserve, and the 74th Division attacking on the left of the 60th had likewise a brigade in reserve. As a rule the enemy works were cut into rocky rising ground, and the trenches were well enclosed with wire. They were strongly made, and there were possibilities of prolonged opposition, but at 1215 hours, when the main assault was launched, the Desert Mounted Corps was attacking from the east and south-east, the enemy command must have become anxious about a line of retreat. The attacking troops from right to left were the 179th, 181st, 231st, and 230th Brigades. By 1330 hours all [59] objectives had been gained, and about 5,000 yards of works south of the Wadi Saba were in the hands of the XX Corps. The enemy had 3,000 yards of trenches north of the wadi, where he was still holding out. While a brigade of the 53rd Division threatened these from the west, the 230th Brigade, 74th Division, under cover of a bombardment, attacked from the south. The brigade found no difficulty in occupying the works by 1900 hours, as the enemy had evacuated them during the preliminary bombardment. The work of the infantry had been brilliantly and successfully carried out.

ACTION OF THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS.

The orders to the Corps were twofold. It had first to straddle the Beersheba road-which leads up through Judaea to Hebron and Jerusalem - at Sakati, some six miles northeast of the town, and so prevent reinforcements from coming in from that direction, and also cut off escape from the town. That road closed, the corps was to storm Beersheba. The safety of Beersheba against attack from the east and south-east hinged mainly on a strong redoubt on Tel el Saba. The tel lies on the northern bank of the Wadi Saba, three miles due east of the town, and is made up of a, great mound, with a cliff-face abutting on the rough wide water-course. A few acres in extent, it rises steeply to a height of a few hundred feet from the bare surrounding country. Its top is fairly flat, but is covered with large stones, which, with very little digging, gave sound cover to infantry and provided perfect pockets for machine-guns. Two lines of trenches commanded the plain across the wadi to the south and swept the floor of the waterway to the east. The steep sides of the mound were inaccessible to men on horses, and the naked plain held out unpromising prospects to a dismounted advance. Across the wadi south of the town the enemy had barred the way with a chain of redoubts, and on the north up to Sakati their extreme left flank was safe in the rugged intricacies of the rising hills of Judea.

The approach march of the corps lay over barren, strong hills. The tracks off the main road between Asluj and Beersheba were but faintly marked and troublesome to follow. The leading of the troops, never an easy matter at night, was rendered more troublesome lay the fact that the country beyond [60] Asluj was quite unknown, and was of a most difficult and intricate nature. Maps, though accurate in the main, were lacking in detail, and the employment of native guides was too risky an experiment to be contemplated.

The plan of the corps was as follows:

The Anzac Mounted Division, in the lead, was to send one brigade via Bir el Arara against Tel el Sakati, the remainder of the division marching via the Wadi el Shreikiye, Gebel el Shegeib, and Iswaiwin to attack Bir el Hamman and Bir Salem Abu Irgeig as its first objectives, then Tel el Saba, and finally to a position astride and cross the Hebron road facing north-west, with left flank on north side of Beersheba. The Australian Mounted Division, following the Anzac Mounted Division along the Wadi el Shreikiye, was to halt at a point a little north of Iswaiwin, and be prepared to act either northwards, in support of the Anzac Mounted Division, or westwards towards Beersheba, as might be required. The 7th Mounted brigade was ordered to march at 2130 hours on October 30th from Esani via Itweil el Semin against Ras Ghannam, and also to act as a connecting link between the two corps.

The 7th Light Horse Regiment as advanced guard to the corps cleared Asluj at 1800 hours on October 30th, and led the long column north-east along the track to Bir Arara, which was reached at 0200 hours on October 31st. The Australian Mounted Division moved from Khalasa, and marching by Asluj had some miles farther to march than the Anzac Mounted Division.

At Thaffha the track split. The 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade, which was aiming for Sakati, pressed on to Bir Arara, and the main column with the Wellington .Mounted Rifles (New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade) leading, turned along the road to the north by El Shegeib and Iswaiwin towards Bir Salem Abu Irgeig immediately to the South of the Wadi Saba. Some opposition was met with on the road leading over Gebel el Shegeib, but this was quickly brushed aside by the Wellington Mounted Rifles, and by 0800 hours on October 31st the Anzac Mounted. Division was disposed as follows:

2nd A.L.H. Brigade - Bir el Hammam.
N.Z.M.R. Brigade - Bir Salem Abu Irgeig.

[61] The 1st Australian Light Morse Brigade was in reserve behind the New Zealanders.

Meanwhile the Australian Mounted Division swung towards Beersheba, and after marching a few miles halted at 1000 hours and remained in reserve near Khashim Zanna.

Corps Headquarters was established on a commanding hill about four miles to the south-east of Beersheba.

By 0900 hours the two leading brigades of the Anzac Mounted Division were ready for the second phase of the advance, which aimed at seizing the Beersheba-Hebron road at Sakati and capturing Tel el Saba. About this time enemy mounted troops were seen moving forward to reinforce the garrison of the Tel el Saba redoubt; meanwhile enemy cavalry, guns, and transport were moving out of Beersheba by the Hebron road either to escape capture or to guard against a raid on that line of communications.

The 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade, moving rapidly, soon came under a heavy artillery fire from the hills north of the Hebron road, and the advance slowed down. The plains were found also to be much cut up by narrow and deep wadi beds which made rapid movement impossible. Resistance was now stiffening considerably along the whole front, but after sharp fighting Tel el Sakati was captured by 1300 hours, and by 1350 hours this brigade was astride the Hebron road.

The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade began the attack on Tel el Saba at 0910 hours. The brigade moved against the position partly along the Wadi Saba and partly north of it. There was no cover except in the wadi, and the place was defended by well-concealed machine-guns, both on the Tel el Saba and to the north of it. The enemy artillery was now bringing a heavy fire against the attacking troops. The brigade was reinforced on its left by the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, and later by the 2nd Light Horse Regiment. Finally the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade, with two 13-pdr batteries from the Australian Mounted Division, was sent to reinforce the right of the Anzac line. The attack on Tel el Saba was making way slowly, the machine-guns north of the hill giving most trouble. A section of guns (13-pdrs.) was pushed to within 800 yards of the hill, and opened up on the machine-gulls at a range of 1,900 yards, and a battery was also brought forward [62] to 2,300 yards from the hill. By 1440 hours the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade had got within assaulting distance, and at 1500 hours rushed the position, taking some 132 prisoners, while the remainder of the garrison fled towards Beersheba and the north-west.

With the capture of Tel el Saba the second phase had been completed. At 1530 hours orders were issued for the final phase - the capture of the line Point 1020 (two miles north-west of Tel el Saba) - Point 970 (immediately north of Beersheba.) - Mosque.

The 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade was to strike for a line between the Hills 970 and 1020 north of the town, while the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, moving on the left of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade, was to take as its objective a line from the mosque in the town to Hill 970, both inclusive. But nevertheless the situation was becoming grave. The enemy, although driven off Tel el Saba, was strong south of the town and still stronger in the hills immediately north of it. The Desert Mounted Corps had been fighting for nine hours, and while its operations had undoubtedly weakened the enemy's hold on his defences, and although the defences to the west and south-west of Beersheba were in the hands of the XX Corps, yet the main objective, Beersheba and the wells, was still in the hands of the enemy. The country ahead of the 1st and 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigades was rough and difficult, and progress must be slow. Only a few hours of daylight remained. The divisions of the XX Corps could not be moved against the town because of the absence of water supplies, and because a farther advance would disorganise the next stage in the operations, when they were to march north-west on Sheria and Hareira. The Australian Mounted Division in reserve had two brigades (4th Australian Light Horse Brigade and 5th Mounted Brigade) available.

The moment had arrived for the employment of the Australian Mounted Division and the 7th Mounted Brigade. Had Tel el Saba fallen earlier, no doubt a dismounted attack would have taken place. Only two hours remained before dusk, and whatever could be done must be done quickly. With the day on the wane, it was now neck or nothing. The plan of the Corps Commander had been to keep the Australian Mounted [63] Division in reserve until the Anzac Mounted Division had taken Tel el Saba, and then to launch it in a main assault on the town; but the reduction of Tel el Saba lead taken longer than it was anticipated, and time did not permit of staging a deliberate dismounted attack. The G.O.C. Australian Mounted Division at about 1515 hours was ordered to take Beersheba before dark. The G.O.C. 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, who at the time was at the Corps Headquarters with the Divisional Commander, was ordered to move on Beersheba at once, whilst the 7th Mounted Brigade was ordered to turn the defences of Ras Ghannam and co-operate with the attack of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade, and the 5th Mounted Brigade was ordered to assemble and move in support. The G.O.C. 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade immediately galloped off to assemble his brigade. At 1615 hours, when the confirming order was received at the Brigade Headquarters, the brigade was six miles south-east of Beersheba, and it would be dusk in one hour. The open plain stretched before the brigade, magnificent galloping ground; the enemy had been attacked from front and rear, and was weakening; success must come now, and quickly or never. All the conditions suitable for a mounted attack were present, and no other kind of attack could promise equal results. The 11th Light Horse Regiment was spread over a line of outposts extending towards the 7th Mounted Brigade, but the 4th and 12th. Light Horse Regiments were available.

It was a purely cavalry adventure, but the regiments bore neither sword nor lance, and in order to give the charge as much effect as possible the men rode with their bayonets in hand.

The action forms a notable land-mark in the history of cavalry, in that it initiated that spirit of dash which thereafter dominated the whole campaign. The action taken by the G.O.C. 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade is described below in his official report:-

“At 1600 hours on 31st October, 1917, Anzac, Division was operating to the east and north-east of Beersheba, and was pushing back the enemy clown the Wadi el Saba. This division was operating dismounted, but, owing to the stiff opposition, the progress was slow, and it appeared as if the town would not be taken from that direction before dark. It was essential that the place, be taken quickly as the, horses had not been [64] watered since the previous day and had made a night march of over thirty miles.

"At 1615 hours orders were received from the Australian Mounted Division, and also direct instructions from the Corps Commander, for the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade to attack direct on Beersheba, moving on the left of the Anzac Mounted Division, and to take the place before dark.

“The brigade way then in reserve in a valley about six miles east of Beersheba, and the horses were being fed. It was realised by the Brigadier that he would have to act quickly, as only a little over an hour of daylight remained in which to carry out the operation.
“The brigade was assembled in a valley near Hill 1280, with the exception of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, which was on detached duty about two miles south-west of that position.

"Orders were sent to the 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment to concentrate and follow the brigade, and the brigade was ordered to saddle up and move when ready, under the seconds in command of regiments, the senior to command. The Brigadier and Brigade Major, accompanied by the CO’s 4th and 12th Regiments, galloped forward to reconnoitre a covered way of approach for the brigade to the point of deployment, and for the direction of the attack. This was necessary, as the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade had just previously been heavily shelled in attempting to cross exposed ground.

"The brigade started about 1630 hours, and moved at the trot. Shortly afterwards two enemy planes passed over and dropped bombs, and, on return, one flew low and machine-gunned Brigade Headquarters' personnel and Signal Troop, which were moving in rear of the brigade. No material damage was done beyond one horse wounded, but it somewhat delayed the establishment of communications.

"The route taken was along the wadi about a quarter of a mile south of “W” road, and the brigade deployed where the road crossed the 1100 contour.

"The 4th Light Horse Regiment was ordered to advance on the sector from the left of A. and N.Z. Mounted Division to “W” road. The 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment was [65] ordered to advance on the left of the 4th Light Horse Regiment; these two regiments were ordered to attack mounted, each in three successive lines, of a squadron each line. The files were at about four yards interval and 300 yards distance between squadrons. They were ordered to charge with drawn bayonets held in the hand, as no swords were issued to these troops.

“The 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment was ordered to follow on in rear and act as a reserve.
.
"One, sub-section of the 4th A.M.G. Squadron was sent with each of the 4th and 12th Australian Light horse Regiment, and the machine-gun squadron, less one section, was ordered to move down the wadi and co-operate with the reserve squadron .of the 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment in protecting the left rear of the line from attack by the enemy, who were seen in trenches on hill 1180.

"Both the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments went forward at a gallop, and took successive lines of trenches until reaching the wadi at Beersheba. The left flank of the 12th Regiment came under heavy machine-gun fire from trenches on Hill 1180. The machine-gun squadron immediately opened fire on this redoubt, and the Brigadier ordered Major Harrison, OC Notts Battery, R.H.A., which had then come up to the point of deployment, to open fire on these trenches. It was then practically dark, and impossible to take distances with the range-finder, but Major Harrison opened fire and found the range with his second shot, and quickly drove the Turks off the ridge.

“On it being reported that the trenches in front of the town had been taken, the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments were ordered to push right through the town and capture as many prisoners as possible.

"This movement was carried out in a very able manner and resulted in the capture of 9 field-guns, 7 ammunition limbers, 4 machine-guns, and about 700 prisoners.

"The 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment, which had arrived at the point of deployment after the battery had come into action, was moved forward together with the Notts Battery and battery to Beersheba. On reaching that place the CO's 4th and 12th Regiments reported that they had captured the place. The 11th Regiment was accordingly [66] ordered to push through the town and hold it against any counter-attack from the north-west and south-west. This was carried out, and the 11th Regiment captured about 400 prisoners who were retreating from the south-west.

"The 4th and 12th Regiments were ordered to withdraw front their line and re-organise. When this was done, the 4th Light Horse Regiment took up an outpost line from the Wadi el Saba to the mosque, and the 11th Regiment from the mosque to the Khalasa road, the 12th Regiment being held in reserve near the railway viaduct.

"The two batteries were placed in position on the bank of the wadi, south of the town, so as to co-operate in driving back any counter-attack by the Turks.

"The brigade remained disposed as above until relieved by the 5th Mounted and the infantry- the following morning.

"The rapidity of the mounted attack seemed to demoralise the enemy, as they mostly fired high, and it was afterwards found that the sights of their rifles were never lowered below 800 metres. The enemy artillery was also unable to estimate the pace, and the shells all went over the heads of the advancing troops.

"From the location of the enemy's trenches as shown on Map 1A it would appear that they were prepared for any advance down the Wadi Shaai, which would have offered a certain amount of cover while in the wadi bed, but they did not anticipate a mounted attack across the plain.

"If a dismounted attack had been made from the Wadi Shaai, it is certain that we would have suffered heavy casualties, as the trenches were very strong, and in the bends machine-guns were placed to enfilade the wadi bed.

"On 19th April, 1917, at the Second Battle of Gaza, this brigade made a long advance on foot, with two regiments (11th and 12th) and the machine-gun squadron, and had 187 casuals without any satisfactory result being obtained. Here the casualties were 32 killed and 32 wounded, total 64, which about one-third of the number sustained in the Second Gaza Battle, and resulted in the capture of 59 officers and 1,090 other ranks, besides 10 field-guns, 5 machine-guns, and a large number of vehicles, stores, and animals. In [67] addition, the enemy did not have time to destroy the water supply, which was the most important factor in the situation.

"The high percentage of killed to wounded was due to the hand-to-hand fighting against superior numbers at the trenches. The majority of the wounded fell before the trenches were reached."

Meanwhile the attack of the 1st and 3rd Light Horse Brigades and New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade was being vigorously pressed from the east, but as it approached the town in the dusk, opposition suddenly failed - consequent on the lightning stroke of the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments.

Already Beersheba had the appearance of a deserted town; the native population had fled some hours earlier, and the few remaining Turks were quickly captured. The enemy still held a line in the hills close to the town, but after the outposts were established the night passed quietly.

The remainder of the Australian Mounted Division moved into Beersheba during the night, leaving the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade to assist the Anzac Mounted Division iii holding an outpost line north and north-east of the town. The 7th Mounted Brigade, which had had a day of desultory fighting, entered the town about 1830 hours.

CASUALTIES.

The XX Corps losses were 7 officers killed and 42 Wounded, 129 other ranks killed, 988 wounded and missing, a light total, considering the nature of the works carried during the day. The corps captures included 25 officers, 394 other ranks, 6 guns, and numerous machine-guns.

The total number of Turks captured by the Desert Mounted Corps during the day was 70 officers and 1,458 other ranks. About 500 Turkish dead were buried on the battlefield.

ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE MARCH OF THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS FROM ASLUJ.

The only wheels taken with the brigades were the guns and first-line transport (ammunition limbers and limbered waggons containing watering gear and tools). "B" echelon (i.e., all other waggons), loaded with rations, was left at Asluj with the ammunition column, with orders to await directions. But the ammunition column was to follow on after the division at daylight on the 31st.

[68] Camel water convoys, with a small reserve of drinking water for the men, were, left also at Asluj, in readiness to be sent up.

No. 1 Light Car Patrol (Ford cars) and No. 11 Light Armoured Motor Battery (No. 11 L. A. M .B ) were attached to the Anzac Mounted Division, with. orders to follow on, leaving Asluj at 0500 hours on the morning of the 31st.

Supplies were organised as follows:-- Each man carried two days' himself and one day's forage for his horse. In addition he carried, in a sand-bag strapped across the pommel of the saddle, a small emergency ration of grain for his horse. "B" echelon (an improvised train of all baggage waggons) carried two days' emergency rations for the men and one day's forage for the horse.

The medical arrangements made provision for the mobile sections of the field ambulances to march from Asluj with their respective brigades, and for all cacolet camels to march together in rear of the Australian Mounted Division.

Divisional collecting stations were ordered to be formed of tent subdivisions of field ambulances, at points to be decided upon by the A.D.M.S., and evacuations were to be made by sand-carts and camels to the farthest point to which light motor ambulances could be brought; thence to the Australian Mounted Division receiving station at Asluj; thence to the Anzac Mounted Division receiving station at Rashid Bek by light motor ambulance; and thence to railhead near Shellal by heavy motor ambulance.

CLEARING THE TOWN.

In the interval between the capture of the trenches and the charge into the town, the enemy had begun to blow up the wells and ammunition depots. He had evidently intended, in the event of his having to abandon Beersheba, to leave nothing but ruins behind, for the whole place was a nest of explosive charges, “booby traps," and trip wires. By a fortunate chance the German engineer who was responsible for the destruction of the town was away on leave in Jerusalem at the time of its capture, and consequently most of these trip wires were not yet attached to their detonators. Throughout the night and next day the engineers laboured incessantly clearing the explosives and repairing the wells, five of which had been partially destroyed.

[69] GENERAL.

During the day the guns of the XXI Corps opposite Gaza kept pounding away at the enemy defences, aided by the Navy, whose fire was directed at the town of Gaza.

On the left of the 74th Division, the Imperial. Camel Brigade and two battalions of the 53rd Division held the ground to the north of the Wadi Saba to a point where the remainder of the 53rd Division watched for the approach of any force from the north, while the 10th Division about Shellal protected the lines of communication east of the Wadi Ghuzze and the Yeomanry Mounted Division was on the west side of the Wadi Ghuzze in G.H.Q. reserve.

The Turk was completely surprised, and did not attempt anything in the nature of a counter-attack by the Beersheba garrison, nor did he make any move from Hareira against the 53rd Division. Had he done so, the 10th Division and the Yeomanry Mounted Division would have seized the opportunity of falling on him from Shellal, but he chose the safer course of allowing the Beersheba garrison to stand unaided in its own defences.

The defences of Beersheba had been entrusted to the III Corps, whose commander was Ismet Bey. On the morning, of October 31st, it is reported that he was at his battle headquarters west of the town watching the attack of our infantry, which he still believed to consist of only one division. But at about 1100 hours he was surprised when he found that the plain east of the town was covered with cavalry. He appears to have lost his head completely, for he proceeded to fling all reserves, into the fight on the west before the battle was well begun. The following criticism by a German staff officer on the tactical handling of the corps is of interest:

"The battle control of the III Corps appeared deplorable; even before the commencement of the decisive infantry attack all reserves had been thrown in."

The charge of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade was dramatic in its suddenness anal decisiveness. When this attack was launched, the enemy had been crushed by the XX Corps on the south-west, and had lost Tel el Saba on the east. But the infantry, having reached its appointed object, had stopped [70] according to orders. The garrison was still able to offer a stout resistance to the Anzac Mounted Division and 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade on the east. If their redoubts to the south and south-east survived, they still had hopes of holding on until darkness fell, when possibly reinforcements might be sent - at most, they could make an orderly withdrawal after destroying their supplies and the wells. The effect of the charge was quickly appreciated by the enemy. Between the time when the trenches were taken and the appearance of the light horse on the outskirts of the town, the Turkish force, hitherto in a state of comparative order, had been thrown into chaos. The one thought was of escape anal personal safety. There was a wild rush towards the hills north and north-west. The pursuit was carried on through Beersheba and out on to the hills during the night, until the light horsemen were checked by fire from enemy troops in position.

It will be seen that one and a quarter hours had elapsed between the time the corps order had been issued and the time when the brigade moved to the attack. The delay is partly accounted for by the fact that the brigade had perforce to be spread over a large area owing to enemy bombing, and partly owing to the time taken in assembling the brigade and making the necessary reconnaissances. Further delay was caused owing to the brigade having off-saddled, an order which could hardly be justified, even though the brigade was part of the reserve.

In considering the order to the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade to take the town at the gallop, it should be remembered that the 5th Mounted Brigade was also available. This brigade was trained as cavalry, and armed with the sword, whereas the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade had no arme blanche weapons, but had had certain training in using the bayonet as such. Beyond question, it was a purely cavalry operation, and if all factors had been equal at the moment, the choice would probably have fallen on the yeomanry. In making his decision, the Corps Commander was probably influenced by the following factors:

(a) As far as it was humanly possible to ascertain from air photos and reconnaissance, there was no wire in front of the trenches.

[71] (b) The two brigades (4th Australian Light Horse Brigade and 5th Mounted Brigade) in reserve were spread over a considerable distance owing to the incessant bombing by the German airmen.

(c) The 4th Australian, Light Horse Brigade was closer to Beersheba, and could be more easily concentrated, and consequently set in motion more quickly.

(d) Time was the pressing factor - two hours of light only remained, and Beersheba had to be taken whatever the cost, otherwise, with the town still in the hands of the enemy, the effect on the campaign was fraught with the gravest consequences.


The capture of Beersheba had a far-reaching effect on the, whole campaign, the success of which rested on the capture of the town on the first day. Without that success, the vast and careful arrangements of the summer months might easily have ended in another stalemate engagement.

The effect on the enemy had results beyond anticipation. The Turkish intelligence had made light of the flank attack even while it was developing, and had reported "six British infantry divisions deeply echeloned" before Gaza in the closing days of October.

After Beersheba, the failure on the part of the Turkish command to sense the British scheme became still more marked. On the night of October 31st, General von Kressenstein, undoubtedly mystified and misled, apparently concluded that the British intended to strike for Jerusalem up the Hebron road along the saddle of the Judaean Hills, and immediately swung three divisions of infantry from Gaza to the east. In committing this disastrous error he was probably influenced by the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade's seizure of the road at Sakati, but still more so by the activities of an Arab detachment under some British officers, which had marched some days previously from Asluj, and making a wide detour by Yutta had taken up a position on the high ground overlooking the road between Dhaheriye and Hebron. The force was small, and carried only three days' rations, but was stiffened by a few British machine and Lewis gunners, and was well supplied with ammunition.

[72] Its mission was merely to harass the Turks retiring from Beersheba; as the 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade had already cut the road at Sakati it remained in idleness for some time. The enemy, however, took it for a strong advanced guard of the Desert Mounted Corps, and marched a force of six battalions against It - three from Hebron and three from Sheria. Surrounded by overwhelming numbers, the force, after suffering severe losses, was finally captured about three days after the fall of Beersheba.

 
 
Further Reading:

The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917

Australian and New Zealand Roll of Honour

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Beersheba,  Palestine, 31 October 1917, Foster Account

Posted by Project Leader at 11:13 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 5 October 2009 8:35 AM EADT
The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, 4th LHR, AIF Unit History Account
Topic: AIF - 4B - 4 LHR

The Battle of Beersheba

Palestine, 31 October 1917

4th LHR, AIF Unit History Account

 

En route to Beersheba

[From: Smith, Men of Beersheba, p. 137.]

 

Lieutenant Colonel Neil C. Smith AM produced the unit history of the 4th Light Horse Regiment in 1993 and published the story in Melbourne, 1993 called Men of Beersheba: a history of the 4th Light Horse Regiment, 1914-1919 in which included a major section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and extracted below.

 

Smith AM, Lieut-Col NC, Men of Beersheba : a history of the 4th Light Horse Regiment, 1914-1919, (Melbourne 1993), pp. 111 - 132:

 

CHAPTER 7 THE CHARGE AT BEERSHEBA

[111] Two aspects of Australian military history in particular have etched themselves indelibly in the annals of Australia's heritage; that is, the landing at Gallipoli and the Light Horse charge at Beersheba. Concentrating on the second matter which; it should be noted; was a victory by Australians led by Australians, we find all elements of what Australian folklore and true Australian nationalism is about. No wonder that, like kinship to the first fleeters, many Australians and other observers have a fascination for identifying the men of the 4th and 12th Light Horse regiments who composed the charge. This history makes inroads into the vexing question of who did charge from the former Regiment. But before this is examined further, let us taste the heat and excitement of the Charge.

In the middle of 1917 General F.M. Edmund Allenby took over command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force from Murray. Allenby had come directly from the 3rd Army in France and knew that the Allies needed victories in the Middle East to shore up waning morale both within the Force and at home. Prestige had been sorely wounded in the area following the withdrawal from Gallipoli, losses in Mesopotamia and in the battles at Gaza and Romani. Ideally he needed to take Jerusalem which would shake the very foundations of the then existing Moslem hierarchy and its jubilant masses. But there was much territory to be fought over before Allenby could present himself at the gates of Jerusalem. Allenby therefore set to as soon as he arrived and commenced planning and preparation for the capture of Gaza and its associated defensive line extending eastwards to the precious water sources at Beersheba. Allenby's first major Operation Order was issued on 22nd October 1917.

Allenby required General Phillip Chetwood's XX Corps to thrust at Beersheba with a hook from the south west while Chauvel, with his two divisions of Desert Mounted Corps would assault the town from the east and north west. Both forces would attack Beersheba on 31st October 1917. Thus a force of [112] almost 60,000 well equipped Allied troops would be pitted against about 4,500 Turks defending Beersheba and its precious water wells.

To distract the Turkish defenders of Beersheba Allenby arranged for a fleet of small craft to assemble off Belah about five miles south west of Gaza in view of the Turks, and for British troops to march towards the beach late in the day. Allenby's deception plan also called for the small craft to withdraw, thus suggesting that troops had been landed and for the Navy and XX Corps to commence bombardment of the Turks from the mouth of the Hesi on the 27th. Thus the Turks would believe that a major attack on Gaza was imminent. As an added precaution Allenby blocked advance routes to thwart any attempt to bring reinforcements from Syria. British intelligence also planted fake documents indicating that Gaza and not Beersheba was the objective.

Returning to Allenby's objectives at Beersheba, a major factor in his plan was for Chauvel to capture the town of Beersheba on the first day of the offensive and hence secure the water supply imperative for subsequent operations.

Chauvel faced many problems in carrying out his part of the commander's requirements. He had little time but above all he needed water for his men and horses. Happily his troops were in good shape and according to Captain Jack Payte, one of the 4th Light Horse Regiment chargers at Beersheba, morale had never been better with everyone in optimistic spirits, especially after the arrival of Allenby. Moreover the Australians were confident after enjoying an aggressive patrolling and reconnaissance program. This had given them a strong knowledge of their enemy and a measure of self esteem in being able to move about the potential and often realized battle fields with some impunity. It also meant that the Turks were somewhat accustomed to the Australians moving about and made it all the more difficult for them to determine when and where a major attack might occur.

As a consequence of 'Bull' Allenby's orders the huge force of Australian, New Zealand and imperial troops began [113] their advance in the third week of October. In preparation for the advance Allenby had constructed a railway and a water pipeline to help establish his troops and equipment closer to their objective. Wells were re-opened at two staging locations - Khalassa and Asluj.

At this stage the 4th Light Horse Regiment was commanded by Murray Bourchier, a grazier from Strathmerton and an original A Squadron officer. A. B and C Squadrons were commanded respectively by Major J. Lawson, Captain Albert Reid and Captain John Parkin. James Lawson, a portly and affable hotelier from Rupanyip in Victoria would display his usual outstanding leadership qualities demonstrated since the early days on Gallipoli and lead the charge with Bourchier. For detail of the next few days the 4th Light Horse Regiment's War Diary will be followed closely.

On October 28th at about 4.00pm the Regiment with the rest of the Light Horse Brigade moved out from the forward base camp at Tel el Fara over twenty miles west of Beersheba carrying three day's rations and fodder. All ranks were in full marching order. C Troop, A Squadron furnished the right flank guard. The column halted and bivouacked for the night at 2000 about one mile East of Esani. George French, who had worked for the Agricultural Department at Maffra before the war is reported to have said that he had not been back long from leave at Port Said when rumour had it that a move was imminent: 'We soon got rid of all unnecessary equipment; I remember this part of the business, for I was acting SQMS'. French continued: 'We were told Beersheba was our objective, I remember Alex Wilson remarking that he was sure there was a bullet for him at BeersHeba. Lieutenant Jim Hickey and I discussed the probability of battle, what my job would be, and how long the ammunition would last, and how we would get fresh supplies into the firing line. Little we knew what kind of battle it was to be, but we still had to show we were keen, and it passed many a long hour.'

During the afternoon of 29th October the column moved on to Khalassa, which was merely a mass of ruins. Reaching there about 9.00pm, the troops bivouacked for the night. A Squadron put out an outpost line. The next day the [114] Regiment moved out in a south easterly direction to Asluj and made a long enflanking movement under the worst conditions as regards heavy going, with a particularly dark night and even very hot weather. D Troop A Squadron under Lieutenant Nelson Hemmons from Warrnambool furnished the right flank guard and C Troop B Squadron under Lieutenant Len Gooding, a former Melbourne barman, provided the left. These flank guards were carried out by a system of patrols working in bounds or a line of flankers in a single file according to the nature of the country. This duty was carried out in an exceptionally fine manner, communication with the main body being at all times maintained. Taking into consideration the difficult and unknown nature of the country and being a very dark night it reflects great credit on the officers in charge and those under their command. These troops remained out as flank guards until about 8.00am on October 31st when the main body reached the vicinity of Goz El Shegeib, near the Iswaiwin Road, they being then recalled to rejoin their unit.

The column had marched through the nights over rough ground, at first by the light of full moon. The white chalk and sandstone cliffs between Esani and Khalassa stood out conspicuously in the moonlight and presented a picture of exquisite grandeur. As the columns moved forward all hearts were gay, and in each face could be discerned an appearance of eagerness for contact with the enemy. The months of quiescence had been monotonous for the men, and now that operations were to commence, all were keen and alert in anticipation of striking a blow on the enemy. But it was hard going. Ten miles per night was the requirement with a much larger effort the third, dark night to ensure the western and eastern formations were in position. Security needs meant that no fires could be lit at night and by the time the troops reached the assembly areas a few miles distant from Beersheba, both men and beasts were in desperate need of having their thirsts slaked. In fact Vic Smith succinctly noted that the horses were just about 'all in' prior to the charge, so it was a real do or die.

[115] French continues his story of the last night's march. '1 was able to light my pipe under my greatcoat and keep it smothered, but the poor cigarette smoker had no hope. We moved steadily. The night was dark and dusty and we marched in column of route. The dust from the horses ahead blotted out everything. Dawn broke somewhere out behind Beersheba. We looked a strange sight, every face was thickly covered with grey dust, making each man look like the next. I addressed Padre Weir, (the Brigade Chaplain), as Bill, taking him for a trooper under all the dust. About 9.00 am we halted, merely stopped in our tracks, and wondered for how long, as we had dreams of a cup of tea. With a few pieces of deal, (we always carried wood we could get it), I managed to get the quart pot boiling and was one of the few who tasted tea that day.'

The Regiment's War Diary entries at this point read: 'We rested here until about 1500 when orders were received to move; from then on followed the charge on Beersheba of which full reports have been written. After the charge the Regt formed up in the bed of the Wadi near the bridge and watered the horses who had been without a drink for thirty hours. An outpost line was then taken up on the NE side of the town.' Clearly the significance of the charge was lost to the writer of the diary at the time. But we shall pay a little more attention to the charge itself before moving on. Such scant entries throughout the Regiment's War Diary testify to the continual pace of movement in a Regiment with little time for the niceties of in-depth documentation of its activities.

The Official Historian says: 'But Chauvel could have no misgivings about the capacity of his troops. In the sheer quality of their grand young manhood, in their brigade and regimental leadership, in their experience gained over eighteen months' hard fighting in all sorts of rough conditions, the men of the 1st and 2nd Light Horse Brigades and the New Zealand Brigade were then without peer among the mounted troops engaged anywhere in the war. Of the Australian Mounted Division, the men of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment were veterans like the ANZACs, and the Yeomanry of the 5th mounted Brigade, if their performance in Sinai had not been altogether satisfactory, were [116] now, under sound leadership, to be counted as first class British cavalry. The 4th Light Horse had fought convincingly at the second Gaza engagement.

Both the 3rd and 4th Brigades were under new leaders. Brigadier General J.B. Meredith, who had commanded the 1st Brigade with much distinction in its critical fight at Romani, and had afterwards led the 4th, had been invalided home to Australia, and was succeeded by forty seven years old William Grant of the 11th Regiment. The new Brigadier, like so many of Australia's commanders in the war was a Queenslander. A surveyor and pastoralist from the Darling Downs, he had learned on the wide plains that bushcraft which made him famous in Sinai as a guide on night marches over the maze of sand dunes. Somewhat more excitable and impulsive than most of the light horse leaders, Grant possessed the temperament for ‘The charge' which was to give lasting distinction to his name and the men and horses of 'Grant's Mob.'

To return to Allenby's overall plan. The desert columns linked up at 5.10 am and 45 minutes later British artillery started preparatory fire. F.D. Davidson in his book The Wells of Beersheba describes the situation of the 4th Light Horse Brigade as it rested roughly as it had halted from the previous night's order of march it in this way: 'Men breakfasted hastily, standing; chewing biscuit and bully. The order to mount and advance might come at any moment: A sparing mouthful was drunk from water bottles. There was no water for the horses, although an inquiring whinny came from their patient line. There was corn, eaten with saddles still on and with bitted mouths. The horses, with thirty miles behind them, looked lean, dusty and hollow in the morning light. Below the edges of the saddle blankets the dried sweat was caked, a reddish grey, and wet hair gleamed under the cloths as heads went down to the feed bags.

The attack commenced and the defenders with determination resisted the onslaught. The heat became intense, the din rose and felt and the men became more and more tired. A [117] terrific roll of musketry sounded from the slopes of Tel el Saba to the east of Beersheba, where the New Zealanders and Australians, dismounted, stormed entrenched heights. A brigade of light horse debouched from a valley and moved across the plain towards the hills where Hebron road gleamed whitely. Guns roared at them from the Turkish ridges. Shells flashed at their ranks. Splashes of earth and fame shot up as if the ground was erupting beneath them. Their path was littered with fallen men and horses. They seemed only to crawl across the wide, exposed place; but they were moving at a fast gallop. That faint drumming was the beat of their racing horses.

A brigade galloped for the foot of Tel el Sakaty. The guns were on them as they swept along, squadron by squadron. Behind them riderless horses and horseless men ran around with seeming aimlessness. One wondered why those who lay still did not get up. Everywhere, men and horses moved to their objectives. Wherever they passed columns of red dust rose to stand between earth and sky. The pattering of hooves spread far into the distance and came back, soft and continuous, like the sound of running water.

Gun teams passed at a laboured gallop between hill and hill - little gun teams dragging toy guns and ridden by little men, crouched with arms as they plied the flaying whips. Little ammunition limbers followed them nimbly, rolling and bounding, with shells bursting in their path. The little guns wheeled into action below the crests of the ridges. The little teams were unhooked and departed for cover at a trot. From he muzzles of the guns tongues of flame, half seen in the bright sunshine shot out and back. Little men toiled beside the breech blocks.

Into the middle distance a regiment galloped. (A hand at arm's length would have covered most of it.) It stopped. Something took place. Its horses, most of them riderless, turned and were led away at a canter. The field they had occupied was taken by little men running toward the foot of the hill. From the top came a volley of rifle and machine gunfire. The little men lay down among the rocks and bushes. They got up and ran forward a short way, then dropped down again. They seemed to [117] have some desperate need of attaining the top of that ridge. Half way up, they were still dodging and running, but not all of them. There were some who lay still among the rocks and bushes of the lower slope. They looked as if they had forgotten about the battle.

The horizon, where it could be seen between the pillars of dust, was blotted with shrapnel bursts - grey cloudlets developing out of bright sparks. They opened like seed pods and widened until they were soft and loose, like ladies' powder pin's' then they floated along, dispersing as they went, and the blue air gave birth to new ones. Beneath them the earth was being thrashed by a shrill hail of iron. All the hilltops were spouting earth and flame tame as the shells found their billets. It was like the splashing of water when rocks are thrown into it. As yet no action had been made towards taking the town. Vigorous action was now imperative. Action that would require the best that the 4th Light Horse Brigade could master.

Allenby's plan required British infantry to capture Turkish positions about three miles West and South of Beersheba. This was achieved by 1.00 pm. New Zealanders from the Anzac Mounted Division and the 2nd Light Horse Brigade were to capture Turkish defence positions at Tel el Saba and Tel el Sakaty to the north east. Repeated bayonet charges and heavy casualties brought some success, but valuable time was lost as the Turks, aided by their aircraft, pushed reserves into trenches in the open ground to the east, slowing down further the advance of the 1st Light Horse Brigade now dismounted at Tel el Saba. Little did the Allied commanders know that the Turks had decided to relinquish their hold on Beersheba and, after destroying its water sources intended to consolidate nearer Gaza. Had they known, it would have made little difference as time was ever crucial in view of the need to obtain water in Beersheba that very day. Most of the Australian Mounted Division including the 4th Light Horse Regiment remained in reserve to the east and south east. Certainly some were conscious of the fact that once again, the Regiment faced the prospect of seeing little action from its reserve position.

[119] Major Albert Reid, MC and later the MLA for Young in NSW, gave as his recollection that late in the afternoon of the 31st, Brigadier Grant took the commanding officers and squadron leaders of the 4th, 11th and 12th Light Horse Regiments to General Chauvel's headquarters, where they were told that things were not going to plan. The general advance had been held up, and unless Beersheba fell that night the plan of battle would fail; it was imperative that it should fall before dark. Grant said that his reserve 4th Brigade would take it if it was given a free hand. Chauvel asked how he proposed to do it, pointing out that he was responsible. Grant replied that his brigade should act as cavalry and not mounted infantry. Chauvel agreed despite protests from General P.D. Fitzgerald, the British Commander of mounted yeomanry. No doubt Chauvel realised that the time was now 4.00pm and that the sun would set in less than an hour.

Major Norman Rae, an original Sergeant with. C Squadron, recalled that Colonel Bourchier had asked three pertinent questions: Had there been any reconnaissance, was anything known of the intervening ground over which the mounted light horsemen would advance and attack and finally, was there any barbed wire entanglements? The answer had been a disturbing negative or at least inconclusive in each case, thus making Grant's proposal all the more audacious.

Major Reid goes on with his account along the following lines. Squadron leaders were taken to the top of the hill and told Beersheba was there in the distance, about three and a half miles away. Also that the ANZAC Division had been held up all day, unable to take it and that the 4th Brigade was to take it in the role of cavalry. It was added that as soon as the troops crossed the hill they would come under artillery fire, and no matter what happened they were to get into the town. The 4th Light Horse Regiment would be on the right flank of the assault and the 12th under Lieutenant Colonel Donald Cameron on the left, although Bourchier would lead the two Regiments. This arrangement would allow Cameron to concentrate on areas of defended high ground to the left with [120] his C Squadron and attached Vickers Machine Gunners. Each squadron of the two Regiments would be in line with A Squadron leading, followed by B and C each about 120 yards behind. The 11th Light Horse Regiment was to be kept in reserve as it was furthermost away. The squadron leaders rushed back to prepare their men and horses for immediate movement while Grant and the commanding officers selected a forming up place in a wadi and decided on the axis of assault.

Sunset was due at 5.00 pm and so minutes counted towards success or failure and whether the men and particularly the horses would be made ineffective due the severe lack of water, known to be so tantalizingly near in Beersheba. The officers quickly realized that shock tactics would decide the outcome of the day. Grant and his officers galloped back to their men. Orders were barked for immediate movement, and pack horses were pulled to the rear. The tired and thirsty troopers were ordered to mount. Some troops at least were ordered to draw their bayonets and flash them in the sunlight in the absence of cavalry swords.

The two regiments and their squadrons shook out into formation on the move and started off at a walk. They established formation, direction and pace in true cavalry style, just like the exercises conducted in Egypt two years earlier. To their rear was an English artillery battery, the 'Notts' Battery whose gunners provided support as soon as possible, also the Brigade headquarters and machine gunners plus elements of the Brigade Field Ambulance. Almost immediately after clearing the wadi shells began to fall. Only thirty yards from the start line Colin McLean was wounded and his horse killed by an exploding shell - McLean lost his arm as a result. Cameron and his men were forced to peel off as anticipated and engage the Turk positions to their left on foot. The remainder of the 12th with the 4th thundered on with more and more shells bursting around them.

The assaulting formation broke into a steady canter till about a mile or a mile and a half out from Beersheba itself. Then they galloped over clear undulating ground covered by a [121] crop stubble along the Iswaiwin Road axis. Vic Smith recalled hearing no order to charge with bayonets, the blokes just used them for something to hold onto, as their heavy rifles were slung. Artillery fire continued to fall among the attackers and some men noticed two German aircraft which swooped down to meet them with machine guns blazing and with a few hand dropped bombs which appeared to explode harmlessly. Some men had been told that it was believed that trenches existed, but it was not known whether they were deep, and so on. The dust which rose from the pounding of thousands of hooves formed a thick, swirling cloak which enveloped the scene so that, except for those at the very front of the charge, the men could not see beyond their horse's ears, the only guide for direction being the minarets of the mosques in the town.

Trooper Alfred Healey galloped ahead as a ground scout and reconnoitred the going and identified enemy positions in advance of the attacking lines. Tom O'Leary performed a similar service and minutes later personally rounded up 30 prisoners in the thinly defended forward trenches single handed, holding them until his dismounted colleagues caught up. O'Leary then galloped off and assisted in the capture of a field gun. As a Regimental stretcher bearer James Offord's task began the moment the first Light Horseman fell and needed to have wounds dressed amidst the falling shells and small arms fire. Offord was a thirty five years old saw mill manager from Barham, NSW but he understood his new Army trade well. Bill Scott was badly wounded during the charge but still insisted on helping with the ammunition horses and bringing led horses out of action, personally leading six back to cover where he collapsed.

The artillery fire which they had ridden through no longer gapped the ranks, but rifle fire now took its toll. A horse would rear and fall. A rider would drop out of the saddle and lie inert. But on and on the horses raced, straining to get ahead of their fellows, maintaining a surprising speed which individually they could not have done. The spirit of the thing entered into them, despite their thirst and heavy load of up to twenty stone in weight. Perhaps they sensed that they would be rewarded [122] with water if the attack was successful. The shouts and cooed of the riding men added to the excitement and din.

Suddenly the rifle fire caused no casualties, this was explained afterward when the captured rifles were seen to be sighted at 1600 yards, permitting the attackers to ride in under the bullet's trajectory. From the flank, another New South Welshman, Arrnourer Sergeant Arthur Cox spied a machine gun with crew of five near a viaduct and without hesitation attacked and captured the offending strong point which could have taken a heavy toll of the Light Horsemen.

Now within yards of the trenches, the first wave with Lawson and Bourchier in the lead, meet a fusillade of stick hand grenades and the small arms fire at point blank range brings down several men and horses. Someone yells "Action Front. Dismount!' Some men charge across the trenches, scattering equipment and tents to the rear. Others dismount to throw themselves bodily at individual Turks as they engage in fierce hand to hand combat. A few troopers like Jim Henderson try to gather and hold their mounts and those of some of their mates as is Light Horse doctrine. The troopers lash at the Turks with their bayonets, some unsung their rifles and use them as clubs in the confined space, others manage to fix their bayonet and lunge at the Turks, many get away a few quickly aimed shots and those with hand guns fire repeatedly at fleeting glimpses of targets. There is Pandemonium, men shouting, screaming and cursing, bodies writhing in hand to hand combat, horses rearing and even lashing at the foe, other slumping to the ground, dust pervades the scene, as does smoke and noise. But in the forward trenches it is over within seconds, a minute or two at the most.

A large percentage of the A Squadron men leapt straight over the forward trenches, probably as previously arranged, while some dismounted and attacked with rifle and bayonet. One troop ran into a machine gun redoubt and lost heavily. But the dust left little to be seen of what was happening elsewhere. Troops took the trenches in their stride and often didn't realize that they had passed through the Turkish defences until they were virtually in the town itself. They were [123] surprised to see the ground they had covered the next day and the thought uppermost in many minds was well expressed by General Hodgson, who exclaimed: 'How the hell you got over. I don't know.'

Now in the town, a group of men chased and captured a fleeing field gun that went after an escaping bunch of dishevelled infantry; others tried to quell the firing from the street. Norman Rae single handed captured over 60 Turks. Trooper John Burley personally captured some field guns and many prisoners. Sergeant Birkett-Vipont, having lost his troop leader killed, led a party of men after the charge and captured over 60 prisoners in the Beersheba redoubt. Major George Rankin, as Second in Command of the Regiment was quick to commence reorganisation of the unit and consolidation of the positions taken on the outskirts of Beersheba. A farmer and part-time soldier from Rochester, Rankin was an original C Squadron officer who fully understood the need for the second in charge to attend to such detail thus freeing his commander to command. It was soon over and it was dark. Shock tactics had decided the day. A momentous cavalry exploit had been added to military history.

The enemy, on seeing the fierceness of the attack had begun to blow up ammunition dumps and wells and the railway station was set on fire. The curling black smoke drifting towards the attackers was incorrectly believed to be poison gas. There was much indiscriminate shooting when the town was entered, but there was an outstanding figure, calm and alone. He was Murray Bourchier, the commander of the 4th Regiment, whose bravery and imperturbability did much to bring about quiet and order. Phil Moon, a trooper in A Squadron had vivid recollections of the charge many years after the war. This is his story as originally recorded by Cyril Smith, an original member invalided home from Gallipoli but who returned to the Regiment with a commission in France:

'At a slow trot for half a mile or so, and a squadron of what we find out later is the 12th Regiment joists up on our left, thus there are now two squadrons in tine. The pace is getting [124] hotter and Jacko realises that there is something doing. We can hear his rifle and machine gun -fire, but it does not seem to be coming anywhere near us. I have a hazy recollection of a plane badly missing us with bombs. Tim Healey of C Troop is about 50 yards in front, acting as ground scout. Getting fairly close now, and we realise that this is going to be serious and think about barbed wire. We can feel the concussion of the fire in our faces, but not a man or horse seems to have been hit. I got my head well down on Jerry's neck, and was doing some mighty deep thinking. Next to me Johnson's horse gets it through the heart and Johnson takes a tumble. We are among a succession of shallow pits full of Turks, and Jerry and I barge through one of these before we can pull up. Harold Wickham, with the Hotchkiss gun pack horse follows me, and Wickham is badly wounded.

I have neither seen nor heard any order to dismount, Lieutenant Ben Meredith, our troop leader, is off his horse, so I do likewise. He hands his reins over to me and turns with his revolver on one of these pits full of Turks.

They throw up their hands at once, but as he turns away one of them picks up a rifle and shoots him in the back. Corporal Cliff Wheelans is down, shot through the side. There seem to be Turks everywhere, but they seem bewildered and few of them are putting up any sort of fight. Jerry annoys me considerably by looking for grass to eat. Bombs make a hell of a noise, but don't seem to do much damage. We can catch up to the rest of the troop before reaching the town near the railway station which is very shortly inflames and a railway engine goes skywards.

There is some conflict in descriptive detail about the loss of C Troop's Ben Meredith. Vic Smith recollected that one of the surrendered Turks rolled a grenade straight at Meredith and 'blew him to bits'. Further, Phil Moon immediately despatched the Turk with his bayonet. The Regiment's War Diary notes that there were three or four incidents where surrendered Turks, taking advantage of their situation, again took up arms. Although not documented there is a hint among some survivor's recollections that the bloody fighting in the forward trenches was bitter and sometimes vengeance [125] consumed the troopers involved. Perhaps not surprising as Ben Meredith, a grazier from Terang, seems to have been a particularly popular officer with experience in the Militia's 11th Light Horse Regiment as an officer before the war. Eager to answer the call to arms he had been accepted as an original member of the Regiment with the rank of Trooper. After Gallipoli Meredith received another commission with the Regiment.

Moon continues: Turks seem completely demoralised and prisoners are roaming around as they please. Bill Watkins, (there were two men of that name with the Regiment at the time), and myself are sent up to the minaret of the mosque to see if any snipers are up there. Thank God there are not. Stephen Loughman and I decided to go back and see if we can do anything for Wheelans, who was left where we dismounted. It is dark now, but we eventually find him. He is in a bad way and died at El Arish on his way to hospital We cannot locate our squadron when we get back to town, but join up with a couple of machine gunners and decided to spend the night with them and find our own crowd in the morning. We collected about thirty prisoners before reaching their position about a mile or more up the Hebron Road.

We discovered our own squadron about half a mile away the next morning, and learnt we were posted missing. Advance parties of the 60th Division were coming in. We visited the scene of the previous night's excitement, and looked up an old acquaintance in the shape of a bald headed Turk I had met the night before. The man who shot Ben Meredith. I saw a dead Turk with his hand held up over his head. Some wag had put a piece of paper in his hand bearing the words "Gib it backsheesh". I would like to mention the incident of Corporal Alec Cotter as he told it to me. His horse was shot as we reached the Turks, and he was pinned by one leg underneath. He and Turk had a private duel, firing five shots at each other in rotation Cotter won. Cotter was accidentally killed playing football. The irony of fate.'

The bearers and sandcarts of the Mobile Section of the 4th Light Horse Brigade Field Ambulance had followed close behind the mounted assault troops. The medical orderlies tended to and carried the wounded back to the Dressing Station at Khashim Zannia. They made the return trip many times through the evening and into the night until about 4.00am the next morning. Forty six Australian patients were treated. As most of the wounds were severe, the dressing staff were kept working continuously until that time without respite. When all the patients had been dressed and fed most of the stair snatched a little sleep although a hostile aircraft bombed the Dressing Station about two hours later without causing further casualties. As soon as the Receiving Station received the news that Beersheba had fallen they came up from Asluj and occupied the Turkish Hospital which they found in a very dirty condition and infested with vermin. As a result the Field Ambulance established itself in the Beersheba Town Hall. By lunchtime on the 1st November the Ambulance-men brought up five men who died in the Dressing Station by Cacolet Camels and interned the deceased in the Military Cemetery at Beersheba. Later that day the Field Ambulance was again targeted by enemy aircraft and direct hits killed and maimed many of the ambulance-men.

Corporal Alex Anderson, a farmer turned Army signaller, wrote to his Mother in Egerton on 4th November: 'I think the charge we did at Beersheba the other night was as well carried out as was possible for soldiers to do. We had to gallop across a couple of miles of open country under shrapnel and high explosive gunfire and there wasn't a man faltered or the line broken.' The reader may recall that Anderson was to lose his life needlessly in the turbulent aftermath of the war whilst still in Egypt.

Trooper Sloane Bolton, who had galloped straight through the trenches and dug-outs into Beersheba told how he and Trooper Hudson 'Saw a German officer who seemed to be working a switchboard. He was blowing up buildings of importance in the town (ammunition dumps, headquarters, etc).

We rode over to him and gave a yell, upon which he [127] immediately Jumped to his feet', very much surprised we were already iii the town'. The interrupted demolition programme had already done considerable damage. But of the town's seventeen wells, only two had been demolished and two damaged. Two reservoirs holding 90,000 gallons of water were intact and the thirsty troopers and their mounts feverishly drank their fill from the various water points, some to the extent that they immediately vomited up the water. Prisoners, many wandering around in a confused or dazed state were rounded up and counted. Bolton, a young engine-driver from Geelong, would continue campaigning with the Regiment for some months until severely wounded with the loss of both legs at the Table Top action. Ray Hudson, a clerk from NSW, survived the war unscathed and returned as a Squadron Sergeant Major.

It was found that the Light Horse had captured 1,200 men as well as 14 guns. Including those taken by the infantry, about 2,000 prisoners in all were taken and over 500 Turkish corpses were buried on the battlefield. The casualties in the two Light Horse Regiments who made the charge were only 32 killed and 36 wounded, mainly in the trenches. Bourchier himself recorded that his Regiment had suffered the loss of two officers killed - Meredith and Frank Burton who had been shot by a German machine gunner, five troopers killed plus four who died as a result of their wounds and thirteen wounded. Very light casualty figures indeed given the numbers and defensive disposition of the enemy. The English historian Colonel Preston sums up the achievement as follows:

'General Grant's action forms a notable landmark in the history of cavalry, in that it initiated that spirit of dash which thereafter dominated the whole campaign. When he received the orders for the attack, he had to consider that the enemy was known to be in strength, well posted in trenches and adequately supplied with guns and machine guns. In order to reach the town itself, it would be necessary to cross the Wadi Saba, of unknown depth and possibly with precipitous banks. The character of the intervening country was known only in so far as it had been revealed by field glasses. It was not even certain [128] that there was no wire in front of the enemy's Position. On the other hand the town had to be in our hands by nightfall or the whole plan failed. He weighed the chances and made up his mind instantly to risk all in the charge, and the success he achieved surprised even the most ardent votaries of the white arm'.

The besieging force urgently needed 400,000 gallons of water and got it, because of the charge. Without that water, the capture of Beersheba would have been something less than a victory and thousands of Allied men and horses would have been placed in jeopardy, although by a quirk of fate rain fell later during the night of 31st October. Failure to gain this water supply would have impacted adversely on the conduct of the entire campaign. It could have for instance delayed the fall of Gaza until the wet season, with dire results. The conquest of Palestine and Syria would not have been completed before the end of the war and Mustafa Kemal might have then been able to retain his rich and powerful Ottoman Empire.

Among those taking part in the charge was Sergeant Ted Seagher. During the ensuing engagement with the Turks he is reputed to have returned under fire, lifted a badly wounded comrade onto the front of his horse, turned again and galloped out, leading his section and the wounded man to safety. There must have been at least 400 such stories to be told by survivors of the 4th Light Horse Regiment. What do men, taken at random, remember as being outstanding on such a notable occasion? John Cantwell, a young farmer from Yarram, recalled that an officer had a pot shot with his revolver at a mangy dog when galloping past. Albert Newell, nicknamed 'Papa', probably because of his rather advanced age of 43 years was a clerk in St Kilda, Melbourne before enlistment; Bert's vivid recollection was of the squelch made when his horse put its hoof on the stomach of a dead Turk. Corporal Bill Todd, a man well over six feet in height, joined his comrades in the town riding a donkey. Corporal A.S. (Phil) Moon, another clerk in civilian life, remained bitter over the treachery of the Turk who had put up his hands in surrender, then killed Ben Meredith.

[129] Bitterness can be understandable as can fear. A few men seem to have actually enjoyed the charge, but most were like trooper Vic Smith from Maldon who, when asked by historian Ian Jones, 'What were you thinking?', replied, 'Oh, I dunnoo. Wishing to Christ it was over. Yeah... and out of it!'. Asked if he was scared, he commented, 'Oh, I s'pose there was a certain amount of fear there. But you had to keep going; you couldn't drop out.' Jim Henderson who had ridden in the second or third wave of chargers remembered the sobering task of being detailed the next morning to identify and collect the Australian dead. His lasting memory was having found the still warm body of a trooper who had just died from loss of blood. Apparently the wounded man had been missed by the Field Ambulance men following closely behind the chargers, and had lingered on the battlefield throughout the night.

On a lighter note Henderson recalled finding a mass of Turkish money and medals in the enemy offices within the railway station at Beersheba. Henderson and his mates grabbed piles of this booty but ended up using most of the paper money as lavatory paper. Much to their chagrin they later found that the money could have been redeemed for a handsome sum. Les Amiet was another charger, albeit with the Machine Gun Section which assaulted from the flank. Amiet was interested to see the movie The Lighthorsemen' almost seventy years after the charge and grumbled good naturedly that the movie did not depict the initial dip in the ground that the chargers rode in and out of.

Alex Wilson, who had ridden over to Farrier Sergeant 'Bulger' Williams from Traralgon, his home town, as soon as the move began was found dead in a trench, sitting astride his horse. His premonition had been fulfilled. What a strange supper that night in Beersheba. Black Turkish bread for the men while the horses munched Turkish barley. Cyril Smith mentions other men who had participated in the charge in the Biblical land which had once flowed with milk and honey; he lists: Major Vicar' Lawson, Major Jack Parkin from Kingston, [130] Lieutenants Frank Phillips and Ewen Cameron who later worked for the Lands Department, Syd Vialls who was a member of the orchestra in Melbourne's Capitol Theatre, Lieutenant Tom Murray a Geelong baker, and Lieutenant Len Gooding from South Melbourne. All men who made history.

Returning to Major James Lawson special note should be made. Official records actually state that this gallant officer was very largely responsible for the fall of Beersheba. This assertion was made in view of Lawson's courage in leading his squadron over the first small Turkish trenches upon which he dismounted a few yards in front of the second line and commenced to kill and capture the occupants and their machine gun. Lawson then led his men against a strong Turkish trench about 9 feet deep and protected by enemy infantry and machine guns. This trench was rushed by Lawson and his men and nearly 100 prisoners were taken. Lawson's actions were recognised by the recommendation for a Victoria Cross, a unique honour for the 4th Light Horse Regiment. Sadly the recommendation finally resulted in the lesser award of a Distinguished Service Order.

The hero of it all though would have to be Murray Bourchier an officer who had performed well at Gallipoli and earned the respect of his command. One should also acknowledge the months of unrewarding soldiering the 4th Light Horse Regiment endured through 1916 and 1917 when it seemed as if they would never again have the opportunity to face the enemy, when it seemed that the 'brass' were hell bent on keeping the 4th away from any action and always in a reserve position. To have maintained the integrity and effectiveness of the Regiment through these trying times speaks highly enough of the competent Murray Bourchier and his loyalty. But we must add to that the dash and brilliance of the charge of Beersheba which Bourchier led. Not only did Bourchier display magnificent courage and determination, but he handled his command, including the bulk of the 12th Light Horse Regiment with great skill. On top of all that he personally involved himself in the fighting and actually shot 6 [131] Turks with his own revolver. Truly a feat without parallel in Australian military history.

Captain Cyril Smith discussed the Beersheba action at length with veterans of the charge. He reported that it emerged in conversation that the Turks had never contemplated hand to hand fighting, as those who carried bombs had them wired to their belts. Men asked themselves what would have been the position if the Australians had been in defence and the Turks the attackers. They are certain the town would not have fallen. It was poorly defended, though strongly garrisoned; the troops were badly used and should have been sited more effectively. Furthermore, it should be noted that there was an absence of friendly covering fire from artillery during the Australian attack. None of this detracts from the glorious outcome of the action by the Australians.

There has been considerable debate even controversy concerning the sole photograph of the charge at Beersheba taken by Trooper E.G. Elllott. Ian Jones argues the case convincingly that the photograph is genuine and veterans such as Bill Scott who knew Elliott personally were similarly convinced of its authenticity. Scott, who became a strong supporter of the Regiment's association after the war, and well known Brighton real estate salesman in his aging Rolls Royce defended the Elliott photograph on many occasions. Records indicate by the way that Eric George Elliott was a Permanent Military Force soldier from Bendigo who served with the 4th Light Horse Regiment as a reinforcement before being transferred to the 4th Machine Gun Squadron who were certainly in the area at the time. Another aspect which arose in the course of research for this work was the mention by veterans on more than one occasion of an 'Army newsreel' taken the following day in which the charge, at least in part, was reconstructed, even while some of the dead still lay where they had fallen. Also that some months later, near Belah further footage was taken of another reconstruction of the charge. No official confirmation of these matters has been
found.

[132] In conclusion it must be acknowledged that not only the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments were involved in the charge. While the place of these two regiments has been made clear there were other players who charged, such as the staff of the Brigade, at least some machine gunners, elements of the Field Ambulance and probably others as well. Trooper J.T. Clark from the 3rd Light Horse Regiment for example is adamant that he also participated in the charge and perhaps he did, as it is likely that men from other Regiments would have been attached or inadvertently found themselves with the 4th at the time of the charge. Furthermore, it is likely that elements of the mounted troops at places like Tel el Saba also 'charged' from their positions as the finale of the action at Beersheba took place. Investigation and academic analysis will no doubt continue. But there will surely be little debate over the tactical significance of this action and the high place of importance the charge enjoys in Australia's heritage.

 

Further Reading:

4th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF

4th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour  

The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917

Australian and New Zealand Roll of Honour

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, 4th LHR, AIF Unit History Account

Posted by Project Leader at 4:11 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 5 October 2009 8:41 AM EADT
Diaries of AIF Servicemen, Bert Schramm, 17 October 1918
Topic: Diary - Schramm

Diaries of AIF Servicemen

Bert Schramm

17 October 1918

 

Bert Schramm

 

2823 Private Herbert Leslie SCHRAMM, a 22 year old Farmer from Whites River, South Australia. He enlisted on 17 February 1916; and at the conclusion of the war Returned to Australia, 10 July 1919.

During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, Bert Schramm kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September Offensive by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.

 

The Diaries

The complete diary is now available on the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Site at:

Bert Schramm Diary


Finding more about a service person. See:

Navigating the National Archives Service File 

 

Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 12 - 19 October 1918

[Click on page for a larger print version.]


Bert Schramm

Thursday, October 17, 1918

Bert Schramm's Location - Kaukab

Bert Schramm's Diary -  Nothing worth recording. Good war news from the other fronts.

 

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Kaukab

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Stevens, 1203 Trooper W, died in 3rd Light Horse Regiment Field Ambulance. Delanty, 1535 Lance Corporal G, died of illness.

9th LHR AIF War Diary, 17 October        

 

Darley

Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.

No Entry

 

 

Previous:  Bert Schramm's Diary, 16 October 1918

Next:  Bert Schramm's Diary, 18 October 1918


Sources Used:

Bert Schramm's Diary

National Archives Service File.

Embarkation Roll, AWM8.

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour

Nominal Roll, AWM133, Nominal Roll of Australian Imperial Force who left Australia for service abroad, 1914-1918 War.

 

War Diaries and Letters

All War Diaries and letters cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy 

 

Further Reading:

Bert Schramm Diary

Bert Schramm Diary, Album

Bert Schramm's Photo Album

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, War Diary, Day by Day Account

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 

Citation: Diaries of AIF Servicemen, Bert Schramm, 17 October 1918


Posted by Project Leader at 1:01 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 8 June 2011 9:16 PM EADT
9th LHR AIF War Diary, 17 October
Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR

9th LHR, AIF

9th Light Horse Regiment

War Diary, 17 October

Pro Gloria et Honore - For Glory and Honour

Regimental March -  Marching Through Georgia

 

 

The following entries are extracted and transcribed from the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, the originals of which are held by the Australian War Memorial. There are 366 entries on this site. Each day has entries as they occurred from 1914 to 1919. In addition to the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, when appropriate, entries from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary and other regiments with the Brigade will also appear. Entries from the unit history, Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924 will also appear from time to time. The aim is to give the broadest context to the story and allow the reader to follow the day to day activities of the regiment. If a relative happened to have served in the regiment during the Great War, then this provides a general framework in which the individual story may be told.

 

The Diary

 

1914

Saturday, October 17, 1914

9th Light Horse Regiment Location -  Morphettville Race Course Camp and Broadmeadows Camp, Victoria. 

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Formation of Regiment occurring at Morphettville Race Course Camp, Adelaide, while "C" Squadron is formed at Broadmeadows Camp, Victoria. 

The Argus reported; "The new men comprising the second contingent are coming in so fast that some difficulty is being experienced in housing them. Another batch of 250 men arrived yesterday, some for the Light Horse and others for the infantry. The volunteers for the Light Horse are called out and the officer in charge explains to them that only really good horsemen are wanted, adding that they will be put through severe jumping and riding tests."

 

1915

Sunday, October 17, 1915

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Rhododendron Spur

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - No entry

General Hamilton left Gallipoli on board the cruiser HMS "Chatham" and sailed for England.

 

1916

Tuesday, October 17, 1916

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Bir Ganadil

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -

 

1917

Wednesday, October 17, 1917

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Um Urgan

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - A Squadron on night outpost. Operation Order for Reconnaissance on 18th October 1917 issued.

 

1918

Thursday, October 17, 1918

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Kaukab

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Stevens, 1203 Trooper W, died in 3rd Light Horse Regiment Field Ambulance. Delanty, 1535 Lance Corporal G, died of illness.

 


1919

Friday, October 17, 1918

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Adelaide

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Regiment disbanded.

 

 

Previous: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 16 October

Next: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 18 October

 

Sources:

See: 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Contents
Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy

 

Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment AIF

Bert Schramm Diary

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 17 October

Posted by Project Leader at 1:01 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 16 September 2010 4:50 PM EADT
Colonel Husnu, Yildirim, Page 102
Topic: Tk - Bks - Yildirim

Another entry from the book written by Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, called Yildirim. Every day, one page of the book will be posted. This is Page 102.



Colonel Hüsnü, Yildirim, Page 102.

[Click on page for a larger print version.]

These are the preliminary events that led to the commencement of the description of the events that led to the capture of Beersheba, 31 October 1917.

This particular page - equivalent to pp. 105-6 in Hüsnü's original text - deals specifically with the attack on El Buggar Ridge.

See: The_Battle of El Buggar Ridge

 
Further Reading:

List of all other Battle of Beersheba accounts  on the blog

Full listing of all material about Beersheba on the blog

 


Citation: Colonel Hüsnü, Yildirim, Page 102

Posted by Project Leader at 1:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2009 11:12 AM EAST

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