« November 2008 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
You are not logged in. Log in

Search the site:

powered by FreeFind
Volunteer with us.

Entries by Topic All topics
A Latest Site News
A - Using the Site
AAA Volunteers
AAB-Education Centre
AAC-Film Clips
AAC-Photo Albums
AIF - Lighthorse
AIF - ALH - A to Z
AIF - DMC - Or Bat
AIF - DMC - Anzac MD
AIF - DMC - Aus MD
AIF - DMC - British
AIF - DMC - French
AIF - DMC - Indian
AIF - DMC - Italian
AIF - DMC - Medical
AIF - DMC - Remounts
AIF - DMC - Scouts
AIF - DMC - Sigs
AIF - DMC - Sigs AirlnS
AIF - DMC - 1 Sig Sqn
AIF - DMC - 2 Sig Sqn
AIF - DMC - Eng
AIF - DMC - Eng 1FSE
AIF - DMC - Eng 2FSE
AIF - 1B - 1 LHB
AIF - 1B - 6 MVS
AIF - 1B - 1 LHMGS
AIF - 1B - 1 Sig Trp
AIF - 1B - 1 LHFA
AIF - 1B - 1 LHR
AIF - 1B - 2 LHR
AIF - 1B - 3 LHR
AIF - 2B - 2 LHB
AIF - 2B - 7 MVS
AIF - 2B - 2 LHFA
AIF - 2B - 2 LHMGS
AIF - 2B - 2 Sig Trp
AIF - 2B - 5 LHR
AIF - 2B - 6 LHR
AIF - 2B - 7 LHR
AIF - 3B - 3 LHB
AIF - 3B - 8 MVS
AIF - 3B - 3 LHB Sigs
AIF - 3B - 3 LHFA
AIF - 3B - 3 LHMGS
AIF - 3B - 3 Sig Trp
AIF - 3B - 8 LHR
AIF - 3B - 9 LHR
AIF - 3B - 10 LHR
AIF - 4B - 4 LHB
AIF - 4B - 4 Sig Trp
AIF - 4B - 9 MVS
AIF - 4B - 4 LHFA
AIF - 4B - 4 LHMGS
AIF - 4B - 4 LHR
AIF - 4B - 11 LHR  
AIF - 4B - 12 LHR
AIF - 5B - 5 LHB
AIF - 5B - 10 MVS
AIF - 5B - 5 LHFA
AIF - 5B - 5 Sig Trp
AIF - 5B - ICC
AIF - 5B - 14 LHR
AIF - 5B - 15 LHR
AIF - 5B - 1er Regt
AIF - 5B - 2 NZMGS
AIF - Aboriginal LH
AIF - Badges
AIF - Cars
AIF - Chinese LH
AIF - Double Sqns
AIF - Engineers
AIF - Fr - 22 Corps
AIF - Fr - 13 LHR
AIF - Honour Roll
AIF - HQ - 3rd Echelon
AIF - Marching Songs
AIF - Misc Topics
AIF - NZMRB - Sig-Trp
AIF - Ships
AIF - Ships - Encountr
AIF - Ships - Una
AIF - Wireless Sqn
BatzA - Australia
BatzA - Broken Hill
BatzA - Liverpool
BatzA - Merivale
BatzB - Boer War
BatzB - Bakenlaagte
BatzB - Belmont
BatzB - Bothaville
BatzB - Buffels Hoek
BatzB - Coetzees Drift
BatzB - Diamond Hill
BatzB - Driefontein
BatzB - Elands
BatzB - Graspan
BatzB - Grobelaar
BatzB - Grootvallier
BatzB - Hartebestfontn
BatzB - Houtnek
BatzB - Karee Siding
BatzB - Kimberley
BatzB - Koster River
BatzB - Leeuw Kop
BatzB - Mafeking
BatzB - Magersfontein
BatzB - Modder River
BatzB - Onverwacht
BatzB - Paardeberg
BatzB - Palmietfontein
BatzB - Pink Hill
BatzB - Poplar Grove
BatzB - Rhenoster
BatzB - Sannahs Post
BatzB - Slingersfontn
BatzB - Stinkhoutbm
BatzB - Sunnyside
BatzB - Wilmansrust
BatzB - Wolvekuil
BatzB - Zand River
BatzG - Gallipoli
BatzG - Anzac
BatzG - Aug 1915
BatzG - Baby 700
BatzG - Evacuation
BatzG - Hill 60
BatzG - Hill 971
BatzG - Krithia
BatzG - Lone Pine
BatzG - Nek
BatzJ - Jordan Valley
BatzJ - 1st Amman
BatzJ - 2nd Amman
BatzJ - Abu Tellul
BatzJ - Es Salt
BatzJ - JV Maps
BatzJ - Ziza
BatzM - Mespot
BatzM - Baghdad
BatzM - Ctesiphon
BatzM - Daur
BatzM - Kurna
BatzM - Kut el Amara
BatzM - Ramadi
BatzN - Naval
BatzN - AE1
BatzN - Cocos Is
BatzN - Heligoland
BatzN - Marmara
BatzN - Zeebrugge
BatzN - Zeppelin L43
BatzNG - Bitapaka
BatzO - Other
BatzO - Baku
BatzO - Egypt 1919
BatzO - Emptsa
BatzO - Karawaran
BatzO - Peitang
BatzO - Wassa
BatzP - Palestine
BatzP - 1st Gaza
BatzP - 2nd Gaza
BatzP - 3rd Gaza
BatzP - Aleppo
BatzP - Amwas
BatzP - Ayun Kara
BatzP - Bald Hill
BatzP - Balin
BatzP - Beersheba
BatzP - Berkusieh
BatzP - Damascus
BatzP - El Auja
BatzP - El Buggar
BatzP - El Burj
BatzP - Haifa
BatzP - Huj
BatzP - JB Yakub
BatzP - Kaukab
BatzP - Khan Kusseir
BatzP - Khuweilfe
BatzP - Kuneitra
BatzP - Megiddo
BatzP - Nablus
BatzP - Rafa
BatzP - Sasa
BatzP - Semakh
BatzP - Sheria
BatzP - Surafend
BatzP - Wadi Fara
BatzS - Sinai
BatzS - Bir el Abd
BatzS - El Arish
BatzS - El Mazar
BatzS - El Qatiya
BatzS - Jifjafa
BatzS - Magdhaba
BatzS - Maghara
BatzS - Romani
BatzS - Suez 1915
BatzSe - Senussi
BatzWF - Westn Front
BW - Boer War
BW - NSW - A Bty RAA
BW - NSW - Aust H
BW - NSW - Lancers
BW - NSW - NSW Inf
BW - Qld
BW - Qld - 1ACH
BW - Qld - 1QMI
BW - Qld - 2QMI
BW - Qld - 3ACH
BW - Qld - 3QMI
BW - Qld - 4QIB
BW - Qld - 5QIB
BW - Qld - 6QIB
BW - Qld - 7ACH
BW - SA - 2ACH
BW - SA - 4ACH
BW - SA - 8ACH
BW - Tas
BW - Tas - 1ACH
BW - Tas - 1TIB
BW - Tas - 1TMI
BW - Tas - 2TB
BW - Tas - 2TIB
BW - Tas - 3ACH
BW - Tas - 8ACH
BW - Vic
BW - Vic - 1VMI
BW - Vic - 2ACH
BW - Vic - 2VMR
BW - Vic - 3VB
BW - Vic - 4ACH
BW - Vic - 4VIB
BW - Vic - 5VMR
BW - Vic - 6ACH
BW - Vic - AAMC
BW - Vic - Scot H
BW - WA - 2ACH
BW - WA - 3WAB
BW - WA - 4ACH
BW - WA - 8ACH
BW Gen - Campaign
BW Gen - Soldiers
BW General
Cavalry - General
Diary - Schramm
Egypt - Heliopolis
Egypt - Mena
Gen - Ataturk Pk, CNB
Gen - Australia
Gen - Legends
Gen - Query Club
Gen - St - NSW
Gen - St - Qld
Gen - St - SA
Gen - St - Tas
Gen - St - Vic
Gen - St - WA
Gm - German Items
Gm - Bk - 605 MGC
GW - 11 Nov 1918
GW - Atrocities
GW - August 1914
GW - Biographies
GW - Propaganda
GW - Spies
GW - We forgot
Militia 1899-1920
Militia - Area Officers
Militia - Inf - Infantry
Militia - Inf - 1IB
Militia - Inf - 2IB
Militia - Inf - 3IB
Militia - Inf - NSW
Militia - Inf - Qld
Militia - Inf - SA
Militia - Inf - Tas
Militia - Inf - Vic
Militia - Inf - WA
Militia - K.E.Horse
Militia - LH
Militia - LH - Regts
Militia - LH - 1LHB
Militia - LH - 2LHB
Militia - LH - 3LHB
Militia - LH - 4LHB
Militia - LH - 5LHB
Militia - LH - 6LHB
Militia - LHN - NSW
Militia - LHN - 1/7/1
Militia - LHN - 2/9/6
Militia - LHN - 3/11/7
Militia - LHN - 4/6/16
Militia - LHN - 5/4/15
Militia - LHN - 6/5/12
Militia - LHN - 28
Militia - LHQ - Qld
Militia - LHQ - 13/2
Militia - LHQ - 14/3/11
Militia - LHQ - 15/1/5
Militia - LHQ - 27/14
Militia - LHS - SA
Militia - LHS - 16/22/3
Militia - LHS - 17/23/18
Militia - LHS - 24/9
Militia - LHT - Tas
Militia - LHT - 12/26
Militia - LHV - Vic
Militia - LHV - 7/15/20
Militia - LHV - 8/16/8
Militia - LHV - 9/19
Militia - LHV - 10/13
Militia - LHV - 11/20/4
Militia - LHV - 19/17
Militia - LHV - 29
Militia - LHW - WA
Militia - LHW-18/25/10
Militia - Military Orders
Militia - Misc
MilitiaRC - Rifle Clubs
MilitiaRC - NSW
MilitiaRC - NT
MilitiaRC - Qld
MilitiaRC - SA
MilitiaRC - Tas
MilitiaRC - Vic
MilitiaRC - WA
Militiaz - New Zealand
Tk - Turkish Items
Tk - Army
Tk - Bks - Books
Tk - Bks - 1/33IR
Tk - Bks - 27th IR
Tk - Bks - Air Force
Tk - Bks - Yildirim
Tk - POWs
Wp - Weapons
Wp - Hotchkiss Cav
Wp - Hotchkiss PMG
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
Open Community
Post to this Blog
Site Index
Education Centre
LH Militia
Boer War
Transport Ships
LH Battles
ALH - Units
ALH - General
Aboriginal Light H
Ottoman Sources

"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.

Contact: Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Forum called:

Desert Column Forum

WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.

Thursday, 6 November 2008
11th LHR, AIF account about the Jordan Valley
Topic: AIF - 4B - 11 LHR


11th Light Horse Regiment, AIF account about its participartion within the Jordan Valley

The 11th LHR horse lines just before the bombing raid of 7 May 1918

[From:  Hammond, History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, p. 112.]

Ernest W. Hammond, in 1984, produced the unit history for the 11th LHR called the History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Fourth Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces, war 1914-1919, which included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and is extracted below.

Hammond, EW, History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Fourth Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces, war 1914-1919, (Singapore 1984), pp. 120 - 5:


JORDAN VALLEY (Continued).

The Valley of the Jordan forms one of the most remarkable depressions on the face of the earth, being wholly below the level of the sea. The lake of Tiberias, at its northern end, is 300 feet below sea level, and the Dead Sea, at its southern extremity, is 1,300 feet below sea level. The distance between these two points in a direct line is 70 miles, but the River Jordan follows a course 200 miles long in its crooked windings before it enters the Dead Sea. The floor of the valley varies in width from 4 to 15 miles, and on the east and the west the mountain ranges of Moab and Judea, respectively, rise to a height of 4,000 feet, the former terminating in the purple-tinted peak of Mount Nebo, where, according to tradition; Moses stood when shown the "Promised Land." The Jordan River discharges more than six million gallons of water per day into the Dead Sea, which has no physical outlet, the level being maintained by evaporation alone. The saline content of the Dead Sea is approximately 24 per cent., and fish swept into it by waters of the Jordan are unable to exist and very soon their bodies become mummified by the chemical action of the waters.

The course of the river is marked by a thin line of willow trees, and in places throughout the valley the lesser waterways support straggling patches of willow and tamarisk, but for the most part the plains on either side of the river are parched. barren and uninviting. The summer temperature rises as high as 127 degrees (F.), and rarely falls below 100 degrees (F.).

The Arabs who make their homes in the valley evacuate to the higher regions of Judea in the summer months, believing the place to be uninhabitable at that time, and so, like the Courts of Jamshyd, the valley is left to the ravages of beast and reptile. Packs of starving jackals trot back and forth snarling and fighting amongst themselves for want of a more lucrative occupation, and the nights are made hideous by the terrifying laughter of the fierce hyena. The stony hillsides, the dry wadis, and the swamps along the waterways are infested with snakes, scorpions and a loathesome variety of hair- black spider the size of a man's hand. The Diggers instinct for gambling throve amidst these hazards, and many a piastre was won and lost on the fierce conflicts staged by the soldiers between scorpions and spiders that fought to the death in a tin hat or a regimental washing dish. These "trial bouts" were noisy affairs, being staged to the accompaniment of excited barracking by groups of soldiers, who, having placed their bets where fancy dictated, clustered around the "arena" to urge their champion to greater effort.

We were told that the super-venomous reptile known as the "asp" infested that wilderness, and that the scientific squad at military headquarters in Jerusalem required specimens for research purposes. "Any man who brought one in alive," the order concluded, "would be suitably rewarded," and next day every Digger who was not actually in the firing line could be seen tramping to and fro across the hillsides with a forked stick in his hands.

I have often wondered what the Arabs thought of the landscape, when they returned after the summer of 1918, to find all those overturned stones as though nature, in a whimsical mood, had conducted a giant flip-flap throughout the valley. Literally, no stone was left unturned in the treasure hunt for asps, and besides many other varieties of snakes and even lizards were brought in for classification and award. It was not long before a frantic note came down from the "Scientific Squad" cancelling the order for "live snakes," and some of our boys who visited the laboratory at Jerusalem about that time with their own particular discoveries were asked by an Australian assistant whether they thought he was "runnin' a flamin' sideshow."

Our sergeant-major threatened to "crime" the next "bloke" who brought in a live snake, but we think his ultimatum was prejudiced by the action of a signaller from Crow's Nest, Queensland, who, having captured an 8 foot black snake on the bank of the Auja River, left it tied to a stick in the sergeant-major's bivvy while he went in search of the adjutant to claim his reward.

"How was I to know," he said, in explanation afterwards, "that the S.M. would get back to his tent before I did?"

The dust and heat in the valley were terrific, and with inadequate rations and myriads of flies and mosquitoes to harass us, the health of the troops became seriously jeopardised. The slightest scratch was converted by conditions into an angry, vicious sore overnight, and almost every trooper was a daily visitor to the A.M.C. tent with major or minor ailments. Boils were prevalent and by reason of their anatomical situation reduced a fair percentage of the horsemen to the ground-level of the "foot-sloggers."

Occasionally we swam in the sluggish brown waters of the Jordan or rode down to the "sea" for a brief respite from the heat and dust. Old Arabs who haunt the shores of the Dead Sea will tell you with a great show of superstition and awe, that no bird will fly across its waters lest it be struck dead by some malign and sinister influence that pollutes the air above and around it, a deadly legacy, they presume, arising from the ashes of Sodom and Gomorrah. The explanation, however, is both simple and complete. There is no fish life in the waters of the Dead Sea, and consequently no bird life above it; but when we proffered this theory to an ancient Arab he merely shook his old head and made gestures of pity in favour of our ignorance.

The Mount of Temptation, with its frowning convulsions, rose at the back of and almost overshadowed our camp, and near the top, cut into the cliff face, we could see a Greek monastery.

In places the building overran the cliff wall, depending for support on stout beams and props, and from the valley below it resembled nothing so much as a pigeon house.

Jericho is a small straggling village of mud huts, set in a shimmering world of unreality, and there is no trace of the famous balsam gardens of Cleopatra's day. There were signs of old Roman roads winding out of the valley, but where in Palestine are such roads not to be found?

On 11th May the Regiment relieved the I.C.C. in a section of the defence line Musallabeh-Abu Tellal, and we immediately entrenched and began consolidating the position. The Turks shelled the position freely, but made no decisive attack upon it. Every afternoon we were shelled by a long range gun known to the troops as "Jericho Jane." The gun was well placed in the hills at Shunet Nimrin, about ten miles east of the river. A batch of reinforcements which joined the Regiment here comprised about 30 Australian aboriginals who, as it was proved later, made good soldiers and did not hesitate to mix it with Abdul whenever an opportunity offered. Being gifted with good sight and hearing, legacies of their Australian environment, they were extremely efficient on outpost duty, although there was probably some justification for the troop-sergeant who said "the cows can hear too well for my liking." It appears he had taken four of the black boys out on a "listening post" one night and they heard so many suspicious sounds, inaudible to anyone else, that the sergeant was compelled to "stand to" all night.

We conducted vigorous patrols in this area until relieved on 8th June, when we marched, via Jerusalem, to a camp at Solomon's Pools, near the town of Bethlehem, arriving there on 13th .June. On the 15th, Lieut.-Colonel J. W. Parsons, D.S.O., reported from Australia and resumed command of the Regiment.


The camp site was well chosen amidst green swards and smiling fields, presenting a restful and intriguing contrast to the dusty, wrinkled face of the Jordan Valley. The ancient brown road to Hebron wound up a pleasant hill close to our horse lines, and late in the evening Arabs, in picturesque garb, passed by with their herds of black goats, bound for the market places of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, just as their ancestors did in the days of Abraham. A field of green barley, leaning to the road, recalled the immortal romance of Boaz and Ruth.

Organised parties visited the holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and the ancient walls of David's city echoed and re-echoed to the tread of riding boots and the age-old flagstones flung back the musical tinkle of spurs as Light Horsemen followed their guides from one holy place to another. They walked the road to Calvary and stood in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, listening in silent reverence to the simple story of "the Man who came out of Nazareth": with equal reverence they would pile their spurs and leggings and boots at the entrance to the Dome of the Rock, and follow the Moslem guardian noiselessly on stockinged feet into that grand monument of Islam Piety, the Mosque of Omar, there to gather round a slab of black rock that once formed part of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Is it any wonder that it was found so easy, amidst these surroundings, to conjure visions of Solomon the Great, and of Hiram, King of Tyre.

Of all the places in Jerusalem, from a spiritual point of view, there is none quite like the Garden of Gethsemane. To walk in the cool, soft shadows cast down by the old old olive trees, and to hear the wind whispering in the stately cypress along the terraces is an experience never to be forgotten. Over everything in the garden there is a calm and restful sensation of infinite peace, and the little borders of rosemary, emblem of fidelity, seem to coerce one to the knowledge, that here at least. In this hillside garden there is sublime and absolute evidence of the earthly presence of Him who walked that way.

In Gethsemane the poet's words are clothed with a new and more beautiful significance:

One is nearer God's Home in a garden,
Than anywhere else on earth.

The Australian Light horseman wait a true "soldier of fortune," riding the highways and byways of three of the oldest countries In the world, disposing of their Ancient riddles with a Jest and a laugh, but in Jerusalem he clothed himself in a mantle of serious reverence for the holy places, and it was officially stated that there were fewer cases of military misconduct in Jerusalem than in any other city visited by the Light Horse. Moreover, the magnitude of the voluntary Church parades from our camp to the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem must have gladdened the heart of our padre who had at last come into his own.

We spent three weeks in the camp at Bethlehem and on the morning of 28th June were ordered to return to the Jordan Valley, where we occupied the defence line at Wadi Nueiamah, north of Jericho. Towards the end of June the enemy had been persistently shelling our defences west of the Jordan, and early in July the activity in the enemy lines seemed to presage a general attack, which did not develop, however, until the morning of 14th July.

Owing to the broken nature of the ground our front line was made up of a number of strong detached posts, supported by smaller outposts adjacent to them. One Light Horse commander was asked by headquarters whether he thought the front line would withstand a determined attack, and the official historian relates that he replied: "No, they are bound to come through." "What of the posts?" he was asked, "The posts," he answered, "will stand unless they are withdrawn for tactical reasons or completely destroyed. Since we landed on the Peninsula (Gallipoli) I have not known a single instance of Light Horse troops, whether under officers or non-commissioned officers, having given up a position they were ordered to hold," and despite the terrifying and sickening conditions In the Valley, that was the spirit that endured throughout the Light Horse lines, Later in the day, as wave upon wave of German and Turkish Infantry were thrown against the line, some of the posts were captured by the enemy, but not until every Australian in them was either killed or wounded. As the enemy streamed down the wadis between the Australian posts he was assaulted by a withering fire from all angles, and by 9 a.m. on tilt, 15th the attacking force was completely demoralised. One hundred and five enemy dead, and 45 wounded were found inside our lines. The prisoners numbered 426 of whom 358 were Germans. This attack was the last offensive attempted against the British forces in Palestine, and by his success in this engagement the Light Horseman demonstrated his superiority, not only over tile Turk, but over German storm trooper its well.

During the engagement the Regiment was bombed by seven enemy aeroplanes, three man being killed and four wounded. Those who made the supreme sacrifice were:-

Trooper A. M. Downie.
Driver W. Emmert
Trooper A. J. Smith.

[See note below - ed..]

Animal casualties were six horses killed and eight wounded.

History relates that Mark Antony transported snow from the heights of Mount Hermon to freeze the drinks he served to Cleopatra in Jericho, but it was left to an enterprising supply officer to bring BEER to the thirsty Diggers in the Jordan Valley in the summer of 1918. The official Field Diary records the event thus:

Place: Jericho, Jordan Valley. Date: 3rd August, 1918.
Hour: 1800 (6 p.m.).
Summary of Event: 12 cases of beer received for 11th Regiment.
Remarks: Nil.

Apparently this super-extraordinary event left our diarist speechless.

At 7 a.m. the following day the Regiment moved to Saba Ridge in support of the 1st Brigade, and lay in the sweltering heat, temperature 120 degrees, throughout the day. Owing to the heavy shelling we were unable to water the horses at the Auja until after nightfall.

The following day we occupied the defence line on the Auja and remained there until 10th August, when the Regiment was relieved by the Allwar (Indian) Infantry and we were ordered to proceed to Ludd for the purpose of reorganisation. On 13th August the Regiment left the Jordan Valley for the last time, and traversing the old Roman road to Talat ed Dumm, turned north-west, passing through the towns of Enab and Latron, arriving at Ludd on 15th August.

Note regarding casualties of the Battle at Abu Tellul, 14 July 1918.

The known casualties from all units are listed below.

BELL Clive Roy 836 Pte 12 LHR/4 LH MGS WIA 14-7-18
BIRCH Charles Napier 66 Cpl 4 LHR WIA 14-7-18
BODEY William Albert 3779 Pte 4 LHR WIA 14-7-18
BROUGHTON David Blakeney Rhys Lt 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
BROWN William Thomas 2312 Pte 4 LHR/4 LH MGS WIA 14-7-18
CAVE Terrance 50 Pte 4 LHR/4 LH MGS WIA 14-7-18
DENNY Henry Thomas 3415 Pte 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
GWYNNE James 1402 Pte 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
HARRIS Hampton Roland 892 Sgt 11 LHR WIA 14-7-18
HIGSON Ebenezer Thomas 75 Pte 7 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
JONES Daniel 1356 Pte 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
JONES William Richard 1890 Pte 11 LHR WIA 14-7-18
KNOX Albert James 2377 Pte 12 LHR/1 LHR WIA 14-7-18
LAWLESS-PYNE John Lindsay 1438 Pte 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
LINTON Phillip Geoffrey 342 Pte 12 LHR/4 LH MGS WIA 14-7-18
MACANSH John Donald 185 A/Sgt 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
MacDONALD Alan Finlayson 2283 Pte 2 Remts/11 LHR WIA 14-7-18
MARSHALL Charles 303 Lt 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
MARSHALL Claude Herbert 3787 Pte 1 LHR WIA 14-7-18
MATTHEWS John Victor 887 Pte 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
McENIRY Noel 1902 Pte 05 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
O'CONNOR William 387 Pte 11 LHR/4 LH MGS
POINTON Percy Charles 865 Pte 11 LHR WIA 14-7-18
SCRYMGEOUR James Tindal Stuart 3438 Pte 2 LHR WIA 14-7-18
SMITH Alfred John 584 Pte 11 LHR WIA 14-7-18 DoW 14-7-18
SMITH Arthur Vincent 478 Pte 5 LHR WIA 14-7-18 at Wadi Mellahah
UPTON Charles Edward 1669 Pte 1 LHR WIA 14-7-18

Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Steve Becker for providing this information and allowing it to be published on this site.

Further Reading:

11th Light Horse Regiment Index


Citation: 11th LHR, AIF account about the Jordan Valley

Posted by Project Leader at 8:41 PM EAST
Updated: Saturday, 8 November 2008 12:40 PM EAST
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
The Battle of Maghara, Sinai, 15 October 1916, 11th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account
Topic: AIF - 4B - 11 LHR

The Battle of Maghara

Sinai, 15 October 1916

11th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account


War Diary account of the 11th LHR, AIF.


The transcription:


13 April 1916

7 men and horses were left at Bayud and the Regiment marched out 400 all ranks. 430 horses and 10 mules.

The Column left Bayud in two echelons - No. 1 at 1700. No. 2 at 1800. No. 1 Echelon under Lieutenant Colonel W Grant, 11th Light Horse Regiment comprised the following:

1/1 City of London Yeomanry

11th Light Horse Regiment

12th Light Horse Regiment

½ Maxim Gun Detachment, 160th Brigade

Lewis Gun Detachment, 160th Brigade

No. 2 Echelon under Major Langley, Officer Commanding 1st Battalion Imperial Camel Corps was composed as follows:

1st Battalion Imperial Camel Corps (less one Company)

Mobile Royal Engineers Detachment

Section Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery

Royal Flying Corps Report Centre

Mobile Signal Unit

Wireless Telegraph Section

Mobile Medical Unit

Small Arms Ammunition Column

Camel Transport Convoy

14 October 1916

Arrived Zagadan at 0010 and bivouacked in a hollow so as not to be observed by the enemy who were known to have an observation post on El Rakwa (Sq D12). The information about the enemy is that the strength is 450 with 7 machine guns and 6 field guns. Operation Order No. 2 states the intention of the General Officer Commanding is to operate against the enemy occupying Bir el Maghara and the area in the immediate neighbourhood to destroy his stores well equipment and ammunition dump; to capture his guns and remove or destroy his telegraphic stores, lines and equipment.

On completion of the operation the Force will retire from the Maghara Hills before dark and bivouac for the night in the vicinity of Rakwa.

The Force will operate on the following general plan. The enemy's posts on Rakwa and Barga will be captured before 0300 without fire action if possible and any telegraph wires will be cut and these places will be held.

The remainder of the force less right and left flanking detachment and escorts detailed later will operate in two columns as follows:

The Right Column will demonstrate against the enemy holding the passes up the Wadi Mashash Barbur - the main Barga, Bir el Maghara Road and the Waid Safat Hameid.

The left Column will turn the east flank of the passes referred to and will gain the high ground overlooking Bir el Maghara 1841 - 1581. The Right Column will not enter the passes until the points just referred to are in our hands.

Special instructions were issued to Officer Commanding right and Left Columns and Officer Commanding detachment.

The composition of the column will be as follows -

(a) Right Column - Lieutenant Colonel W Grant, 11th Light Horse Regiment in command.

11th Light Horse Regiment

2 Maxim Guns, 160th Brigade

Signal Detachment

Royal Engineer party for destructional purposes

Advanced Dressing Station

(b) Left Column - Brigadier General SF Mott in command

1/1 City of London Yeomanry with 2 Maxim Guns, 160th Brigade

12th Light Horse Regiment (less one Troop) with 2 Maxim Guns, 160th Brigade

4 Lewis Guns 160th Brigade

Signal Detachment

Royal Engineer party for destructional purposes

Advanced Dressing Station

(c) Right Flank Guard

One Company Imperial Camel Corps under special instructions.

(d) Left Flank Guard

½ Company Imperial Camel Corps under special instructions.

(e) Zagadan

½ Company Imperial Camel Corps

(f) Reserve

General Officer Commanding and Staff

1 Troop, 12th Light Horse Regiment

Detachment Royal Engineers

Wireless Telegraph Section

Signal Detachment

Section Hong Kong and Singapore Battery

1½ Companies Imperial Camel Corps

Royal Army Medical Corps Special Detachment

Small Arms Ammunition Column

(g) Camel Convoy

With escort 1 Company Imperial Camel Corps

The Column left Zagadan at 1900, the Right Column in front with "A" Squadron of the 11th Light Horse Regiment as Advance Guard.

Captain Goldensted of the 1st Battalion Imperial Camel Corps acted as guide as far as Rakwa.

15 October 1916

"A" Squadron was detached to surround Rakwa and capture anyone in it. This was carried out but no enemy were found there. When near Rakwa a dense fog descended on the column which had to halt until it cleared. The fog lifted at 0500 and the Right and Left Columns moved on from the southern point of El Rakwa (1410) in a south east direction. The fog settled down again and it was very thick when the columns reached the Wadi el Masagid at 0600. Several shots were fired as the head of the column reached the wadi, probably by Bedouins, which warned the Troops of our approach.

Owing to the density of the fog it was impossible to locate the exact position of the pass, so the column was retired to a position behind a sand dune north of the Wadi el Masagid and two Troops of "B" Squadron were sent forward to reconnoitre. These troops captured 7 Turks and 4 Bedouins at the foot of the hills. It was hear from these prisoners that all the field guns had been removed to El Arish and that the Germans had four machine guns in the position.

In consultation with the Commander of the Left Column (Brigadier General SF Mott), it was decided that the original order of the General Officer Commanding could not be carried out and a message was sent to hem to that effect. He approved of the change of plan which was that the Right Column should attack the hills to the right of the pass (i.e. hills 1046, 1121 and 1211), and the Left Column attacked up the slopes of 935 on the left of the pass. The fog lifted just as the troops moved across the flat to the foot of the hills to attack.

At this time Lieutenant Gee's Troop was some distance up the pass and it had to gallop back under fire from Machine Guns. "B" Squadron galloped to the foot of Hill 1121, and worked up it dismounted. "C" Squadron and the Machine Gun Section and 2 guns of the 160th Brigade Machine Gun Company went to the hill north west of the latter.

The Machine Guns drove the enemy out of his sangars on Hills 1121 and 1211 and enabled "B" Squadron to advance up 1121. "C" Squadron meantime cleared Hill 1046.

The Section of the Hong Kong and Singapore Battery shelled the crests of these hills and shot very accurately.

At 0930 "A" Squadron rejoined after clearing Rakwa, and were held in reserve at the foot of the hill north west.

The Left Column advanced partly up the slopes of 935 in conjunction with the movement of the Right Column, but as the Commander saw that it was impracticable to carry the almost impassable slopes in the time allowed for, he wired to the General Officer Commanding and was ordered to retire. This order was also received by the Right Column at 1000, so no steps were taken to press the attack further. The positions won were held till a badly wounded man No. 308 Trooper Leswell of "B" Squadron was brought down the hill, and during this wait 4 unwounded and 1 wounded Turks were taken from the sangar on top of the hill by Major Parsons.

The Right Column was clear of the field of action by 1200. The whole Column moved for the dump which had been established at 1300 on the north west end of Rakwa, and the horsemen who were last reached there at 1600 then watered.

Our aeroplanes bombed Maghara throughout the morning. One Company Imperial Camel Corps (12th Company) occupied Gebel el Barga and one section of the Imperial Camel Corps was sent from Rakwa to Gebel el Lagma during the morning. The latter returned the same evening after engaging some Bedouin, but the former held their position until the Column moved the following day. Our casualties were No. 308 Trooper F Leswell died of wounds; and No. 4 Orderly Room Sergeant GW Nutting wounded in the neck; also two horses killed.

16 October 1916

Left Rakwa at 0930 in two Echelons - Horses and Camels. 12 Light Horse Regiment formed Rear Guard, and arrived at Zagadan at 1230.

17 October 1916

Left Zagadan at 0830, and arrived at Bayoud at 1300. The Regiment acted as Rear Guard to the Column.

The whole of the water and supplies for the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th had to be carried on the camels from Bayoud and a dump was made one day in advance at Zagadan. 6 gallons of water per horse and 1 gallon per man were provided, and this proved ample for the requirements. 20 pounds of compressed forage were issued for the horses and they thrived very well on it. 230 rounds small arms ammunition in addition to ⅔ of a day's ration and forage, overcoat and men's blanket were carried on the horses.

Roll of Honour


Lest We Forget


Further Reading:

11th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF
11th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour

The Battle of Maghara, Sinai, 15 October 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Maghara, Sinai, 15 October 1916, 11th LHR, AIF, War Diary Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 December 2009 9:03 PM EAST
The Battle of Maghara, Sinai, 15 October 1916, 11th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Topic: AIF - 4B - 11 LHR

The Battle of Maghara

Sinai, 15 October 1916

11th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account


Travelling the Maghara

[From Hammond, between p. 56 and p. 57.]


Ernest W. Hammond, in 1984, produced the unit history for the 11th LHR called the History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Fourth Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces, war 1914-1919, which included a section specifically related to the Battle of Maghara and is extracted below.

Hammond, EW, History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Fourth Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces, war 1914-1919, (Singapore 1984)



In 1916 the Turkish forces held a line which ran sheer across the Desert of Sinai from Nekhl (the capital), in the south-east, to the Romani area in the north-west, where his right flank flirted with the Mediterranean coast. This frontier was not continuous, in the sense applied to a battle line of trenches, but, was hold by the establishment of strong posts at natural vantage points throughout the area. The country surrounding each stronghold was patrolled by enemy forces. In rapid succession the Turks had experienced a near-victory and a smashing defeat in the Oases of Ogratina, Katia and the Romani district. The Anzac Mounted Division and Imperial troops operating there were driving him back along the coast to El Arish, but his left flank still remained hinged to its original position in the south. He seemed reluctant to leave the strongholds he had established there and which were replete with telegraph station, ration and feed depots and stores of military equipment. Since his main attack had developed in the north, there seemed little likelihood of his attempting to break through on the Central Caravan Route, and eventually he would be compelled to withdraw from his south-eastern position and retire to Beersheba. The military strategist will tell you that it is a grave error of judgment to allow an enemy to retire peaceably from a given position if it can be prevented. An easy withdrawal heightens the morale of the retiring troops and engenders a feeling of impunity in them, and therefore it becomes the aim of an opposing force to change a retirement into a retreat. But in the sector mentioned above it was proposed that the Light Horsemen would accomplish even more than this. A force would be organised to carry out lightning raids on the enemy's two main strongholds Maghara and Nekhl, and thus compel a retreat rather than allow a retirement.

Accordingly, on the 9th October, Major-General Dallas was instructed to gather a force and attack Maghara, which lay in a chain of hills 80 miles from the Canal, Between Bayoud - our furthermost outpost - and Maghara there was a waterless stretch of 40 miles and we would require a considerable camel train to transport the water and rations required for men and horses. It transpired later that actually we did employ the largest camel and ration train used in the desert during the war. The force under General Dallas was made up of the following units. The 11th and 12th Light Horse Regiments, Imperial Camel Corps, City of London Yeomanry, the Hong Kong and Singapore light batteries and the machine gun sections of the 150th and 160th Infantry Brigades. The strength of the 11th Regiment at this time was 24 Officers, 437 Other Rans, 474 horses, 10 mules. Leaving the railhead at El Ferdan on the morning of the ninth, the column covered a distance of 14 miles the first day, camping that night at the wells of Hod el Bada. Major C. A. Lee, an officer of this Regiment, left us here to assume command of the 4th Camel Battalion.

One troop of "C" Squadron under Lieutenant LA Gordon was left at Bada to hold lines of communication, and a troop of "A" Squadron under 2nd Lieut. A. R. Brierty was sent to Jaffier on a similar mission. On the morning of the 10th the column moved to Mageibra, a distance of 15 miles, and on the following day we moved to Hod el Bayoud, where Major-General Dallas and staff joined the column to review his force prior to its advance across that vital stretch of dry waste between Bayoud and Maghara.

Paradoxically, night-marching was to be the order of the day, and so on the 11th, men and horses rested in the shade of the Bayoud palms, while legions of the Arab and Egyptian Labour Corps filled thousands of fantasses with water in preparation for the final dash to Maghara. By 5.30 in the evening, with camels loaded and horses saddled, we moved off in two echelons. The scene, as those long columns of mounted troops and heavily burdened camels moved out from the shadows of Bayoud, beggars description. A red sun dipped below the desert's rim, bathing the valleys in mauve and tipping the lofty sand dunes with crimson and gold. There was a brief period of twilight, but no darkness to follow the day, as a bright full moon rose quickly to disperse the pseudo-darkness, and flood the scene with its soft light.

Over the first few miles we made easy progress, but as the night wore on the column entered country where the sand dunes were high and close together. Frequently we dismounted to lead our horses up the steep sides of the soft sand hills, and our periods of rest came more often. Ordinary marching conditions in the desert call for a rest of ten minutes in every hour, but the road to Maghara was no ordinary one and ere long we rested our horses every half hour.

In the early hours of the morning we camped in the sand hills at Zagadan, and as there was no oasis here, we drew water from our transport supply. The following night we travelled to Rueiset, and on the night of the 14th we camped close to Rakwa and Barga, sentinel outposts of Maghara. The country we traversed on the night of the fourteenth had undergone a gradual change. The soft white sand of the desert had given way to a coarse stony rubble as we neared the foothills of Maghara. Maghara itself was the dominant height in a large cluster of hills, all of which were barren of vegetation and stony. The Wadi Safat Hamied had its source in the Maghara hills, and its course to the plain ran through a narrow pass between the smaller hills of Rakwa and Barga.

The plan of attack was as follows:

The force would be divided into two columns. One under Brig.-General S. F. Mott, comprising the 12th Light Horse, City of London Yeomanry, the 160th Machine Guns and the Hong Kong and Singapore Batteries would swing to the left, and after making a detour, try and reach the heights above Maghara. The second column, under the leadership of Colonel Grant, and comprising the 11th Light Horse, the Imperial Camel Corps and Machine Guns of the 150th Infantry, would send detachments to capture the outposts of Rakwa and Barga, and having done that, the main force would dash through the pass along the Wadi Hamied and attack Maghara. The Imperial Camel Corps was to be held in reserve at Barga. Time was the all-important element in this expedition, for unless we vacated the hills by sundown on the 15th we would have insufficient water to carry us back to the pools at Bayoud.

At 10 o'clock on the night of the 14th, the two columns moved off to carry out the plan of attack already mentioned. "A" Squadron acted as advance guard to this regiment, and at 2.30 a.m. we reached Rakwa. While the troops were riding into position to attack, a dense fog rolled down from the hills and it was impossible to proceed until it lifted. The desert was in a strange mood. A few minutes before the sky had been studded with brilliant stars, which disappeared as though by magic, to leave us floundering in the midst of a white fog that enveloped everything like a gigantic and ghostly blanket. At five paces distant the outline of a horse and rider was blurred and uncertain, at ten paces both were invisible. Previously we had traversed the dry and comparatively flat and sandy wastes of Sinai, where fogs are unknown, but the lofty hills and narrow passes of Maghara were not immune to this very natural phenomenon, and so we dismounted, waiting and fretting at the delay. An hour and a half passed before the fog showed signs of lifting, and when it did we mounted and pressed on, and just as the head of the column reached the Wadi it was fired upon, probably by Bedouins, and their action sufficed to warn the Turks of our approach, for a few minutes later we heard the stutter of a machine-gun higher up the Wadi. At this time the fog again descended upon us with increasing density, and being unable to locate the pass, we were compelled to retire some distance from the hills and await the dawn.

Some time later two troops of "B" Squadron of the Regiment were sent forward to reconnoitre, and they succeeded in capturing a post of seven Turks and four Bedouins. The fog had delayed us to such an extent that the original plan of attack was abandoned in favour of a demonstration against the enemy troops holding the hills overlooking the pass into Maghara. The right column, under the leadership of Colonel Grant, would attack three hills to the right of the pass which, for military convenience, were numbered Hills 1046, 1120 and 1121, whilst the left column, under Brigadier-General Mott, would attack Hill 935 on the left of the pass.

The fog began to lift as the troops moved across the open ground to the foothills, and before long we came under fire from the enemy trenches high up on the slopes above. Lieut. Gee and a troop of men worked their way into the mouth of the pass, but being subjected to machine-gun fire from the cliffs on both sides, they were compelled to retire.

"B" Squadron, led by Major Bailey, swung into the foot of Hill 1121 at the gallop, and dismounting, they worked their way up the slopes, driving the Turks before them. Meanwhile "C" Squadron, led by Major Parsons, with a superb dash across the open ground, reached the shelter of Hill 1046, and dismounting, the men fought their way from cover to cover up its scarred and ragged slopes. The machine-gun sections and the Hong Kong and Singapore Batteries concentrated a heavy fire on enemy sangars on both these hills, enabling the troops to advance rapidly, and ere long the enemy retreated to strongly fortified positions at Maghara.

"A" Squadron, under Major Loynes, had been left at Rakwa to "clean up" enemy snipers and stragglers, and having done so they rejoined the unit at 9.30 a.m. and were held in reserve.

The column under Brigadier-General Mott advanced some distance up the slopes of Hill 935, but realising that it was impossible to gain his objective in the time allowed, he wired the G.O.C. for instructions and was ordered to retire. The movement, involving both columns, was executed at noon and we returned to Rakwa to camp for the night.

The regiment suffered one fatal casualty, and we buried him there in a lonely grave, deep in the solitude of the Maghara Hills. A solitary grave, yet not so lonely, enriched as it is with the splendid memories we hold of our "cobber," Trooper Jack Leswell.

On the morning of the 16th we left Rakwa and proceeded by easy stages to our base at Ferdan Railhead, arriving there on the evening of the 21st.

It is worthy of note that on the previous day, i.e., the 20th October, 1916, while at the oasis of Hod el Bada, we recorded our votes on the Referendum regarding conscription in Australia.

A history of the Light Horse Campaign in the east would be incomplete without special reference to the splendid endurance of our Australian-bred horses. Many of them had no particular claim to breeding, according to the rules, but to us they were thoroughbreds in every sense of the word. Their epic dash across the desert to Maghara and back convinced us of their greatness.


Further Reading:

11th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF
11th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour

The Battle of Maghara, Sinai, 15 October 1916

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Maghara, Sinai, 15 October 1916, 11th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 December 2009 10:20 PM EAST
Monday, 13 October 2008
The Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, 11th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account
Topic: AIF - 4B - 11 LHR

The Battle of Beersheba

Palestine, 31 October 1917

11th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account


Lieutenant Colonel John William Parsons, CO 11th LHR at Beersheba

[From: Hammond, History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, plate facing p. 72.]


Ernest W. Hammond, in 1984, produced the unit history for the 11th LHR called the History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Fourth Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces, war 1914-1919, which included a section specifically related to the battle of Beersheba and is extracted below.

Hammond, EW, History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Fourth Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces, war 1914-1919, (Singapore 1984), pp. 78 - 84:


[78] Sir Edmund Allenby, the new Commander-in-Chief, began active control of his forces on the morning of the 30th June by moving Army Headquarters from its palatial surroundings at the Savoy Hotel, in Cairo, to the village, of Kalab, a few miles north of Rafa, which was a front-line area. This move had the advantage of bringing him and his staff of assistants within a short motor drive of his front-line positions, and ere long it was a common sight to see the new G.O.C. and his staff riding or driving through his soldiers' camps along the Wadi Guzze. His plan of attack, based on the comprehensive notes of Sir Philip Chetwode, was soon formulated, and preparations to carry it into effect were begun in earnest from end to end of the British line. It was soon evident to us that the plan of battle was to be different from the previous attacks on the Gaza-Beersheba line insomuch as the main force of it would be directed against Beersheba. The ultimate success of the venture, as in all such military coups, would depend largely upon the secrecy of our plans, and, with this object in view, elaborate preparations were made to disguise our intentions and deceive the enemy into believing that the fortresses of Gaza were to be our main objective again.

Many of the Australians opposing the Turks in Palestine had taken part in the evacuation of Gallipoli, that splendid hoax of the Turkish army, and were masters in the art of deception as it applied to warfare.

Dummy camps were erected in the territory opposite Gaza, and, at night; fires were kindled and hurricane lamps were left banning in the tents. Small squads of horsemen rode back- and forth on the banks of the Guzze, deliberately raising great clouds of dust the whole scheme indicating a concentration of troops in that area. ,Nor were these sham preparations confined to the land. Naval boats slipped into the mouth of the Wadi Hesi, a few miles north of Gaza, and took soundings as though a leading from the sea was intended.

Simultaneously with these "stunts" a masterpiece of bluff was carried - out as the island of Cyprus to prevent the enemy from sending reinforcements from Syria to the Palestine front. A large camp was marked out on the island: buoys were [79] set up apparently to direct transports in the harbour, and enquiries were made through local contractors for supplies for a large body of troops, and other arrangements were carried out all intended to promote gossip amongst the inhabitants of the island. gossip which would reach the enemy agent, on the mainland- On the right flank the mounted troops carried out daily patrols reaching far into the enemy territory in front of Beersheba, but the patrols were mere passive demonstrations designed to accustom the Turks to our presence in that vicinity. That these schemes succeeded in deceiving the enemy is evidenced by a Turkish despatch captured in Jerusalem some months later. The despatch was from the Turkish Commander at Gaza to the Turkish High Command in Jeruselem, and an extract reads:

"An enemy outflanking movement on Beersheba. With about one infantry and one cavalry division is indicated but the main attack, as before, must be expected on the Gaza front."

General Allenby's battle order was issued on October 22nd, the general plan being as follows:

General Chetwode. With XX Corps, was to attack Beersheba from the south-west, while General Chauvel, with two divisions of Desert Mounted Corps, would assault the town from the east and north-east, the combined attack being scheduled to take place on October 31st. On October 28th the 11th Light Horse Regiment, 470 strong, moved from Tel el Fara with the 4th Brigade, the first stage of its ride to encircle Beersheba. That night we camped at Esani, and the following day proceeded to Khalasa, a small village which stands on the of the ancient city of Eleusa. We rested here during afternoon, and, at nightfall, moved off on the final of our movement to take up a position within striking distance of Beersheba. The ride from Khalasa that will long be remembered by the 11th Regiment. The night was hot and oppressive, and great billows of heavy dust rolled through the ranks of plodding horses clung to the column in a dense cloud as it moved across the lowlands south of Beersheba.

We filled our water-bottles at Khalasa, but, in view of the conditions ahead of us, known and unknown, we were exhorted to conserve this meagre supply at all costs and by all means in our power. By midnight both men [80] and horses were showing the need of water, and, with Khalasa far behind us, the nearest wells now lay behind the defences of Beersheba, in the heart of the town.

Soon after midnight, our O.C., Colonel Parsons, D.S.O., drew out from his position at the head of the column, exchanging a word here and there with the tired troopers as they rode along. One section of men of "C" Squadron were discussing the "shortage of water" in terms that left nothing to the imagination, when the Colonel interrupted them.

"You fellows should copy my example," he said. "For the past ten miles, I have carried a small pebble in my mouth, and I haven't felt the need of a drink of water."

For a moment, this well-meant advice from the C.O. was met by a "stony" silence, but, as he rode off into the darkness, a wag in the troop called out in a hoarse and croaky voice, "If the Colonel can travel ten miles without a drink on one small pebble, how far will he go on half a brick?" and Colonel Parsons, not yet out of earshot, joined in the general laughter that followed.

Just before daybreak, the attack developed on our left flank, and the roar of the guns reverberating through the hills and wadis was a heartening sound to our ears. During the day, we relieved the 8th Regiment on an outpost line with the 12th Regiment on our right, and the 7th Mounted Brigade on our left. We came under heavy machine gun fire on the left, and our right flank was subjected to heavy rifle fire from a Turkish redoubt cunningly placed at the convergence of two low ridges. As the afternoon wore on, the position became serious. The outer defences of Beersheba had not fallen to our attacks and the mounted troops could not endure another night without water. Occasionally, as we worked onto the high ground, we could see the town of Beersheba lying in a saucer-shaped dip at the foot of the Judean hills. A barren, treeless plain sloped easily down to the town four miles away. It was too far off to permit an organised dismounted attack before darkness set in, and with every moment that passed the position became more critical. Earlier in the day, General Chauvel had established his headquarters on a slight rise some distance in our rear, in the vicinity of Khashm Zanna, and here, as the afternoon waned, a tense military drama of tremendous importance was being enacted. General Chauvel had just made up his mind that a galloping charge was his only hope of [81] saving the day. With him were General Hodgson, Brigadier-General Grant, of the 4th Australian Brigade and Brigadier-General Fitzgerald, of the 5th Imperial Mounted Yeomanry Brigade. Generals Grant and Fitzgerald both pleaded with their leader for the honour of the charge. Those few brief moments, made tense by a desperate situation, must rightly occupy a place amongst the "memorable moments in history."

General Chauvel always tried to remain impartial in his treatment of the Australian and Imperial horsemen under his charge, and for an instant he remained silent, showing no outward sign of the conflict taking place within him. Turning quietly to General Hodgson, he settled the matter in one swift, crisp sentence, "Put Grant straight at it," he exclaimed. [See
end note, ed.]

General Grant wasted no time in formalities, but running to his horse he mounted and galloped away to assemble his Brigade. The 11th Regiment was spread over a long line of outposts, and considerable time must elapse before they could be assembled, but the 4th and 12th Regiments were already assembled near at hand and were soon drawn up in a battle formation behind the crest of a ridge looking down upon the plain of Beersheba. At 4.30, the first line of Australian horsemen went over the ridge at a trot which soon developed into a hand gallop, as the troopers, with bayonets flashing in their hands, warmed to the occasion and spurred their mounts onward. A second and third line followed at intervals of 300 yards, and, ere long, the great plain echoed to the beat of a thousand horses.

A handful of picked horsemen, acting as ground scouts, raced ahead of the main body, eyes alert for the first signs of barbed wire, but, fortunately, the Turks had thrown up no wire entanglements around the trenches in that area.

The enemy opened fire with shrapnel, which burst in white puffs over the galloping lines. As the horsemen neared the first line of trenches, they came under the fire of machine guns and rifles, but, without checking their speed, they swept across the Turkish defences. Some of the men dismounted and went to work with rifle and bayonet, while others raced on to the town, chasing the Turks into the hills beyond. In one brief, glorious hour, the Turkish left flank was shattered, and Beersheba was ours. The spectacle of Light Horsemen, with bayonets in [82] their hands, charging infantrymen in strongly entrenched positions, was something quite unique in the history of warfare in any period, and the boldness of the charge and its unparalleled success, fired the imagination of the British peoples. The newspapers in England, Australia and America flashed the news around the world in bold headlines.

For many nights "Grant's Brigade" was the toast of honour in every officers' mess along Allenby's front. Its counterpart in the troopers'. lines was an equally spontaneous cheer for "Grant's mob," wherever the 4th Brigade colours were seen.

The Commonwealth official historian relates that an intercepted wireless message sent by the Turkish Commander as he fled in the night from Beersheba, stated in effect that his troops had broken because they were "terrified of the Australian Cavalry."

The historian states further that a German Staff Officer captured in Beersheba said that, when the 4th Brigade was seen to move, its advance had been taken for a mere demonstration. "We did not believe," he said, "that the charge would be pushed home. That seemed an impossible intention. I have heard a great deal of the fighting quality of Australian soldiers. They are not soldiers at all; they are madmen."

And while the rest of the world was agog at this fearless exploit of the casual Australian and his equally imperturbable horse, these fellows were swapping yarns around their camp fires, in the streets and roads of Beersheba, or lounging around the time-honoured wells of the town where Abraham, Isaac and Joseph and the sons of Samuel watered their flocks. Other parties of them were still "mopping" up the town, collecting prisoners and booty and piling the latter into hastily formed dumps.

The 11th Regiment captured four hundred prisoners and a great quantity of booty. Some of the Germans and Turks who were rooted out of dugouts and buildings resisted, and there were a few isolated "scraps," which invariably ended in our favour. We found loaves of coarse Turkish bread, tins of poor quality coffee, and dried apricots and dates and figs. There was an almost unlimited supply of Turkish paper money, which, alas, had no intrinsic value for the British troops, but it was rumoured that a troop of one Regiment found a quantity of Turkish gold. A sergeant of the 11th Regiment [83] discovered a canvas bag tilled with Turkish war medals, including many Gallipoli Stars (a nodal struck by the Turkish War Ministry to celebrate Gallipoli), which he shared amongst, his mates. In another part of the town a liberal stock of cognac and red and white wine was unearthed, but, before an officer who heard of the discovery could place a guard over it, the find had vanished. This officer afterwards said he never saw anything disappear so quickly or so completely. He admitted that he got a bottle of cognac out of it himself, but added, somewhat ruefully, "I had to buy it front a Digger who was in the early rush. It cost me five 'bob'."

There, was the usual crop of humorous incidents which invariably followed in the wake of the Australians.

About midnight a Digger staggered into our lines, a bottle of cognac in each hand, a rollicking song on his lips, and with the front of his tunic glittering with a score or more of 'Puckish war medals pinned closely together. In a loud, thick noire, punctuated with hiccoughs, he insisted that the Sergeant-Major should come out of his bed and salute him, but, to his everlasting disgust, an unsympathetic sergeant of the guard throw him in the guard tent to keep him out of further mischief.

Later still that night, another wag rolled into our lines and wakened his companions for the purpose, as he expressed it, of declaring himself "a Turkish millionaire," and, lest anyone should doubt his assertion, he emptied a feed-bag of Turkish bank notes by the side of the fire, and, throwing himself down on his mountain of money, fell fast asleep.

It was almost daybreak before the last of the independent foragers filtered into our lines. Next morning a small party of Headquarters men, led by Sergeant Flemming, captured two Turkish soldier; who were found hiding in a cave in the bank of a wadi. They were unceremoniously pulled out of their lair, and the Sergeant marched them to Headquarters at the point of his revolver. Soon after breakfast enemy 'planes bombed our lines, scoring a hit on our Army Medical tent, killing Sergeant Carney, of the A.M.C.

That night: the Regiment occupied fill outpost line running from the Mosque in 'Beersheba north-west to Gamli Road, and the patrol:; were despatched to a distance of four miles along all roads in that sector without sighting the enemy. [84] On 2nd November the Regiment was relieved from its outpost position and moved to a bivouac area at Karm to reorganise.

Reorganisation after an engagement always meant "kit inspection," which is the official method of discovering losses of gear due to that engagement. Each man spreads his blanket on the ground and piles all the gear he has upon it as neatly as possible. The Commanding Officer, the Adjutant and the Sergeant-Major then walk slowly through the lines, when shortages are listed and requisitions issued to "stores" to replace them.

During his inspection at Karm that morning, Colonel Parsons noticed that every man in one particular Troop of "C" Squadron had conspicuously placed a large round stone on the centre of his blanket. The effect produced by a matter of forty round stones in a long, straight row on the smooth line of blankets, was inescapable and extraordinary, and failing, quite naturally, to grasp the significance of it, the Colonel addressed the nearest trooper.

"What is the purpose of the round stones?" said he, pointing along the line.

"Those stones, sir," replied the trooper, very seriously, "represent the pebble you told us about at Khalasa, and which we now carry in the kits for quenching our thirst," and, for the second time, the Colonel joined in the laughter at his own expense. The boys were satisfied. They had carried their joke to its natural conclusion, and nothing further was heard of the Colonel's thirst-quenching pebble.


[Editor's note: This is quite a contentious comment which Chauvel and Grant have different stories. For copies of their letters to Bean, see: "Put Grant straight at it."]


Further Reading:

"Put Grant straight at it."

11th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF

11th 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, 11th LHR, AIF, Unit History Account

Posted by Project Leader at 8:35 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 4 October 2009 9:47 AM EADT
Monday, 14 July 2008
865 Sgt Percy Charles POINTON
Topic: AIF - 4B - 11 LHR

This is a post war photograph of 865 Sgt Percy Charles POINTON illustrated by his campaign ribbons on his chest. He also has the bronze Anzac "A" on the colour patches on his shoulder. This was given to all Gallipoli veterans in December 1917. He is also wearing the unofficial 11th Light Horse Regiment badges on his eppalutes.

865 Sgt Percy Charles POINTON

Information extracted from The AIF Project - ADFA - WW1 Search regarding:

Percy Charles POINTON

Regimental number 865
Religion Church of England
Occupation Station manager
Address Langside Road, Hamilton, Brisbane, Queensland
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 26
Next of kin Father, Abel Pointon, Langside Road, Hamilton, Brisbane, Queensland
Enlistment date 27 March 1915
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 11th Light Horse Regiment, 2nd Reinforcement
TOS 5th Light Horse Regiment D Squadron 3 October 1915
TOS 11th Light Horse Regiment B Squadron 22 February 1916
GSW to the head during the action at Abu Tellul, Jordan Valley, 14 July 1918
AWM Embarkation Roll number 10/16/2
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A9 Shropshire on 20 August 1915
Rank from Nominal Roll Sergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll 11th Light Horse Regiment
Fate Returned to Australia 23 July 1919

Citation: 865 Sgt Percy Charles POINTON

Posted by Project Leader at 4:03 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 14 July 2008 4:09 AM EADT

Newer | Latest | Older

Full Site Index

powered by FreeFind
Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our forum.

Desert Column Forum

A note on copyright

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre is a not for profit and non profit group whose sole aim is to write the early history of the Australian Light Horse from 1900 - 1920. It is privately funded and the information is provided by the individuals within the group and while permission for the use of the material has been given for this site for these items by various donors, the residual and actual copyright for these items, should there be any, resides exclusively with the donors. The information on this site is freely available for private research use only and if used as such, should be appropriately acknowledged. To assist in this process, each item has a citation attached at the bottom for referencing purposes.

Please Note: No express or implied permission is given for commercial use of the information contained within this site.

A note to copyright holders

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has made every endeavour to contact copyright holders of material digitised for this blog and website and where appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where the permission is still being sought, the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has decided, in good faith, to proceed with digitisation and publication. Australian Light Horse Studies Centre would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of this item.


Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

eXTReMe Tracker