Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
The Battle of Beersheba
Palestine, 31 October 1917
8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Captain Thomas Sidney Austin produced a unit history called The history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F. which included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and is extracted below.
Austin, TS, The history of the 8th Light Horse Regiment A.I.F. :
BeershebaThe 28th proved a busy Sunday. By 1200 the camp was dismantled and the Regiment all packed and ready to move on the Beersheba offensive. Our first job proved to act as escort to the main convoy to Khalasa and at 1500 that afternoon the foot of Tel el Fara presented a wonderful scene. Parks of supply wagons, ammunition limbers, and guns were formed up in the vicinity, covering acres of ground. Busy staff officers and horsemen were to be seen galloping hither and thither giving orders and sorting the many different units into their respective places in the column. This convoy is probably the record convoy of the war. It carried all the supplies and materials to be used by the Mounted Divisions in their attack on the east and S.E. side of Beersheba - a brilliant stroke which did much to crown with success the first of General Allenby's offensive in Palestine.
The column got safely started by 1700 on the road to Esani, 8 miles distant and which was to be our first halting place. As the wagons strung out the column covered a length of 6 miles, there being 307 4 wheeled vehicles, besides innumerable horses, pack mules and donkeys and the head of the column was almost at Esani before the rear had got clear of the Wadi Ghuzze. Thanks for a very bright moon, everything went off without a hitch. On reaching Esani fresh orders were received and the column was broken up, "B" Squadron going on to Khalasa with a large portion whilst the rest of the Regiment went in to bivouac near Tel Itweil. On the 29th. Brig. General Wilson assumed command of the Brigade and Lieut. Col. Maygar rejoined the Regiment.
Four N.C.O's were granted commissions to complete establishment, namely:- Sgt. C.G.T. Williams, Sgt. H.A. Patterson, Sgt. E.M. Jenner and L/Cpl. F. Moore. The Brigade moved on to Khalasa at 1700 and reached there at 2230. Horses were watered and "B" Squadron rejoined. The Regiment received orders to report to Anzac Mounted Division at Asluj before 0500 on the 30th. and our trek was resumed for that place. Asluj was reached in darkness at 0400 and after reporting to Headquarters there a bivouac site was selected on the North side of
the town near the railway station. A spell was made up to 1700 when the Regiment joined the Divisional column in its march to the east of Beersheba, When just North of Iswaiwan, the Regiment branched off and though not in touch again came under the command of the Australian Mounted Division. By 0700 on the 31st. we had taken up the line running through points 1210, 1180, and 1280 (Sq.Q) which were our place in the dispositions for the attack on the town which could be plainly seen about 3 miles to the N.W. Ras Ghannam redoubt which appeared very strongly held was about 1500 yards directly West. We were linked with the 7th. Mounted Brigade who were some distance to the South of this redoubt, and on our left, whilst on our right were the N.Z.M.R. extending towards Khashim Zanna.
The line advanced slightly but was ordered not to go further forward as the rest of Australian Mounted Division would be up in the afternoon. Patrols were thrown out in endeavours to gain information and a good deal of fire was exchanged between both side. Our casualties were light, 1 man and 1 horse being killed. Meanwhile the attack on our right was developing and concentrating an Tel el Saba, a feature in the Wadi bed about 2 miles due East of the town. This place which was very strongly held fell to the New Zealanders and the 1st. Light Horse Brigade at 1800 after a very determined and bloody fight. Its fall helped very greatly in the capture of other redoubts, The 4th Brigade took over the line held by the Regiment at 1600, and soon after from here made their magnificent charge over the trenches and captured the town and many prisoners. The Regiment was ordered to report to Desert Mounted Corps Headquarters at the rear of Khassim Zanna and arrived there at 1730. Just then 2 enemy aeroplanes swooped down and as there were very many troops and transport vehicles concentrated there a good target presented itself to them and of which they took full toll. At a very low altitude, they bombed and machine gunned assn .mod horses, causing a large number of casualties to our side. Lieut Col. Maygar was seriously wounded by a bomb bursting almost under him, and his horse, also wounded, bolted into the darkness and confusion and we never saw the Colonel again. After much searching his horse was found covered in blood and news was obtained that the Colonel had been got safely to hospital, though he succumbed at Karm two days later. Capt. Sproat and 2 Other Ranks ware also hit, while 2 horses were killed. Neighbouring Units suffered much more heavily.
Major McLaurin took command and the Regiment moved in the darkness to the wadi near Bir Haman, where the houses were watered. The 3rd. Brigade was picked up by the flash at a signal lamp and after an hours spell we moved to a bivouac about a mile east of Tel el Saba. At dawn the next morning enemy aeroplanes again raided, but the horses had been scattered over a wide area and presented poor bombing targets. Luckily the men were standing to arms at the time and rear quickly formed into position where good fire control was obtained on the machines. One machine flying extremely low was caught by a terrific burst of fire and subsequently fell among the hills just to the north, the pilot being found dead.
Orders ware received from BHQ to gain up and this was done by 0800 at new site half a mile west of the Tel. A good days rest was enjoyed here, the horses obtaining a plentiful supply of water and the men fresh rations.
Citation: The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, 8th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account