Topic: BatzP - Beersheba
The Battle of Beersheba
Palestine, 31 October 1917
[From: Auckland War Memorial Museum, Williams Album 213]
The poem written by 2639 Tpr Arthur Wilson Beatty soon after taking place in the charge at Beersheba.
(Written by 2639 Tpr Arthur Wilson Beatty, C Sqn, 4th LHR)
We left the "Wadey" at break of day,
We rode far into the night;
Our loads were heavy, our horses poor,
But we pushed them on as we'd done before,
And swallowed the dust, and growled and swore,
Till Esani came in sight.
Two days we rested, three days we rode,
While the 'planes buzzed overhead.
We left Khalasa at dead of night,
And we rode till dawn; then, streaked with white.
The mountains of Judah came in sight,
Like watchers o'er the dead.
We kept our horses behind the rise,
We followed the "Wadey" round,
And sunset found us behind a hill,
Our horses tired, but ready still
To gallop again at their riders' will,
And watch for the broken ground.
Three miles of a wind-swept, shell-torn plain
Where death was sure to lurk!
The shrapnel screamed, the bullets whined,
Swift death spat out from the redoubts lined,
And red flame showed where the wells were mined
By the panic-stricken Turk.
The sun set red as we galloped on,
Our ranks thinned here and there,
As one dropped out who would ride no more
And a groan, as somebody galloped o'er
A foeman, battered and sick an sore,
Surrendering in despair!
Onward we rode till we reached the town,
At the end of the three-mile plain.
Empty and burning the old town lay;
The foeman beaten, had slunk away,
And left us there at the dawn of day,
To follow, and fight again.
The sun rose high on the saddest scene,
The last of the boys "gone West!"
They'd all gone out as the soldier dies -
We buried them out on a lonely "rise"
Where the mournful wind from the desert sighs
We left them there at rest.
Perhaps a cross, or a row of shells,
On wind-swept dusty "rise,"
Will mark where a brave man left the race
With a willing heart and a smiling face -
His grave a Bedouin camping place -
But memory never dies!
The poem Beersheba first appeared in the Melbourne Australasian, 21 September 1918, p. 577.
2639 Tpr Arthur Wilson Beatty was born at Bungaree, east of Ballarat in 1893 to William Arthur Beatty and Mary Jane Beatty nee Wilson. He enlisted with the 4th LHR, 4th Reinforcements, Regimental Number 860 and embarked to Egypt on 13 April 1915. He returned to Australia on 10 June 1915 and was confined to Langwarren where he was discharged as medically unfit for military service. He re-enlisted in the 4th LHR, 18th Reinforcements and embarked for Egypt, 11 July 1916. He served with the 4th LHR through the Sinai, Palestine and Syrian campaigns. He was at Beersheba to take part in the famous charge. He returned to Australia on 25 July 1919 and returned to Sassafras where he appears to have lived the rest of his life. He died at Melbourne on 16 September 1981 at the age of 87.