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The movie "Lighthorsemen" and certain sections.

From: matheson75@yahoo.ca
Date: 3/6/2002
Time: 5:42:14 AM
Remote Name:


Dear Melissa: The movie "The Lighthorsemen was remarkably accurate historically speaking. Ian Jones who scripted & co-produced is an acknowledged expert on the Light Horse. However thanks to an American author, it has now come to light that the entire episode of Meinertzhagen (played by Anthony Andrews) arranging the letter from the supposed wife in England of an officer, who supposedly loses the knapsack found by a Turkish patrol & which contains false information about an attack on Gaza to fool enemy intelligence, did NOT happen as portrayed in the film. There was such a ruse adopted successfully, but five men were involved & Meinertzhagen claimed the credit for dropping the knapsack, actually done by another man! Simon Wincer still believes Ian Jones version was correct, but there will undoubtedly be the truth emerging when this book is published! While some characters in the film were combined from several actual men & others were perhaps fictionalized by Ian Jones for plot purposes, rest assured the charge did take place as shown & it was an undoubted act of great courage. It remains very well documented. The actual casualties of men & horses were remarkably small & the speed of the charge together with the Turks believing the Lighthorsmeen would dismount & not charge & their rifle sights were still set for the initial distance, all helped prevent further losses. Most of the casualties probably took place in the fierce hand-to-hand fighting once in the trenches before Beersheba. The British cavaly had already failed more than once in attacking Gaza earlier & their commander was blamed by the German commander for failing to know when he had actually taken the town! As remarked by the German officer at the start of the film to the newly arrived intelligence officer. The late Charles Chauvel's earlier 1940 black & white film "40,000 Horsemen", which was largely fictional had as it's climax another representation of the charge at Beersheba. Rather more muddled looking than Simon Wincer's charge. However the earlier film went worldwide & was a tremendous boost in WWII for the Allies & the Australians. Considering the charge was by mounted infantrymen, armed only with bayonets & rifles & not cavalry sabres, it remains all the more incredible. The film does portray the charge as exactly as was humanly possible & no humans & no horses were injured or killed in shooting it. They did use trained falling horses, & stuntmen .(& a rubber dummy horse & even a dummy rider for one or two horrendous horse falls!) Wincer himself is a very keen lifelong horseman & of the cast only Anthony Andrews was a rider before! The other principals went through a 6 week crash course & developed into fine riders while shooting progressed. Best with your oral & happy hunting for references. Sincerely John L. Matthew.(Toronto)

Last changed: March 06, 2002