Topic: BatzP - Surafend
Surafend, the massacre
Palestine, 10 December 1918
Ted O'Brien Account
The following is a transcript exerpt from an interview with 3511 Trooper Edward Harold O'Brien who served with "C" Squadron, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, AIF.
AWM Oral History Recording
Accession number: - S00681
Title: - (3511) O'Brien, Edward Harold (Private), C Squadron, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, AIF
Interviewee: - Edward Harold O'Brien
Interviewer: Douglas Wyatt
Date recorded: - 1988
Recording location: - Devonport, Tasmania
In this dialogue, there are two people speaking, Douglas Wyatt [DW] the interviewer and Edward Harold O'Brien [EHOB] which in the text is presented with indented initalcs.
[DW] Yes. There's some rogues about. Do you ever meet up with Chauvel?
[EHOB] Allenby, yes, he come along. No, I never saw Chauvel. Unless I have forgotten about it. But I never forget Allenby. My word, he had a beautiful horse.
[DW] Did he?
[EHOB] ooh, yes. He just stood up in his stirrups and we went xxx. We were there at attention, close attention too. The poor xxx xxx xxx happened to be?
[DW] Was this all of the Third Light Horse, or more than that?
[EHOB] No. It was only the Third Light Horse, I think. I think they were the only ones who were in this mess up.
[DW] Were they.
[EHOB] Oh yes. And some New Zealanders. Well, I think perhaps the New Zealanders were the main ones, because a New Zealand sergeant it was.
[DW] That's right.
[EHOB] And these bedouins. They were wicked. The bedouins, you see, you didn't know whether they were for you or not. And they'd finish up ...
[DW] They were the local natives, were they?
[EHOB] Yeah, and they had to be treated as enemies, to finish up, you know. Anyone, you know ... You'd shoot them on site.
[DW] Were there any Tasmanians involved in that little incident?
[EHOB] Oh yes. Our squadron was there. I was down there. I don't know what I did with it, I was cranky and that. But they had a good issue of rum and they did their blocks. But I don't know.
[DW] Was the whole squadron involved? The officers as well or not?
[EHOB] Oh no. I think it would be only the sergeants, from the sergeants down. I can't think of any officers at all. But I can't think how it was organised or anything like that, it just happened. And everyone did their block. This sergeant was a very popular man, you know. It was really these New Zealanders came round our lines and tell them about it - they decided they'd go in and clean it up. And they did, I think.
[DW] And you went yourself?
[EHOB] Yeah, I was there, but I don't know if I did anything like that.
[DW] What about George Bramich, was he there?
[EHOB] [Harrigan, Harrigan], yeah, yeah. [Harrigan] and Don would be there too. We were all pretty well ... It must have been entered because it was our crowd that did it.
[DW] Was there much of a repercussion except from the tick off from Allenby or did you get fronted or anything?
[EHOB] No. Not our own personal crowd. They sort of wiped it off. It was one of those things. I think it got back to Australia and then I think Allenby sort of part apologised or something like that. But it was a wrong thing - it was bad, that's all. But there were these things that went on all the time.
[DW] What did you actually do? Did you go in and wreck the village?
[EHOB] Oh, absolutely. Yes. It didn't matter. There was cows and ducks and geese: there were kids. But men: they all went for the men with the bayonet and they got it.
[DW] The women then they moved out, I suppose.
[EHOB] There were some left. And they trekked out: they left their village and away they went. It was a bad thing, it was a real bad thing.
[DW] Were you camped close to this village at the time?
[DW] In tents, or what?
[EHOB] I reckon so. I suppose so. It was about the only thing we used to have.
[DW] What was the name of the village?
[EHOB] Oh, God only knows. I don't know that it was ever named - there were villages everywhere.
[EHOB] You know, of course there were a lot of them. When we were at camp, xxx xxx xxx, and they'd drop down at night time and just sleep on the earth. They would get up in the morning and there would be flies in their ears and noses and eyes and everything like that and xxx xxx xxx xxx.
[DW] Was this the natives?
[EHOB] Yeah, yeah. There were two extremes, you see. There were the high and mighty and the very wealthy and then the rest of them. But they're still uncouth like that and they plough with a cow and a crooked stick sort of business and all this sort of rubbish.
Citation: Surafend, the massacre, Palestine, 10 December 1918, Ted O'Brien Account