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Remembered Today:

Beersheba War Cemetery

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I would suggest the CWGC records are wrong, he was not an Australian. His name does not come up on a National Archives of Australia search, nor more generally does Kemkemian/Kemkemain.

On that basis I would suggest he was a "Locally Engaged Person" as so many interpeters in that operational region were. I'm not up on Hebrew names, could he have been from one of the regions communities? I would add that I believe that the "rank" Interpreter was more commonly reserved for the LEP's.



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Thanks for your thoughts on this

I also drew a blank at the AWM as far as his service records go

The name sounds Armenian to me and as this was April 1917 I could not guess where he was from if he was not Australian

But the question remains as to where the CWGC got their info from, if as you suggest it is wrong regarding nationality

Would the unit war diary be any help?



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Would the unit war diary be any help?

No, hardly at all

quote: 17.4.17

Bde arrived SHELLAL 0700 – watered and fed

At 0900 Bde moved out to EAST with Division. Bde in reserve. Bde unarmed (?) in reserve near EL IMRA during the day, returning to bivouac on WEST side of WADI GHUZEE at SHELLAL at 2100. Limber and spare horses which were left at SHELLAL were bombed by aeroplane at about 0930. Casualties Capt. Easterbrook and 12 OR wounded and 6 OR killed. 17 horses killed and 13 wounded.

from http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/AWM4/10/AWM4-10-2-28.pdf

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Nationality on the CWGC database is, as the search page puts it, nationality of the force served, not legal nationality of the person recorded (the budget of CWGC is divvied up on the basis of the number of graves for each nationality as defined in this sense).

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Thank you for the clarification.


Kemkemian must have gone through some "enlistment" process, I would imagine centrally controlled by GHQ EEF whether only by directive and instructions, or actual conduct of the process. I have not yet put much thought to researching the EEF, beyond wondering out loud about their equivalent of GHQ BEF's "SS" documents. How much of GHQ EEF's records have survived? And where are they? Obviously the particular files wanted are the A&QMG employment files.



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Nationality on the CWGC database is, as the search page puts it, nationality of the force served, not legal nationality of the person recorded

Thanks for that important reminder

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Thanks again for your input here



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From Oppy's post #45: My great-uncle Private Sidney Trevelyan, Somerset Light Infantry, died on 6 November 1916 aged 26 and is buried at Beersheba.

& further helpful info from LST_164 in post #47: Trevelyan, Sidney John Private no.1913, West Somerset Yeomanry, earned the British War and Victory medals sometime after 1 January 1916 and they would have been named to this unit.

Later transferred 12th Somerset Light Infantry. and killed on 6 November 1917. Buried Beersheba.

Oppy, this is in case you don't have a picture already


The family's inscription reads;

He shall give his angels charge

Psalm 91, 11

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As ceebee (Chris) has already mentioned, Beersheva is the last resting place of a notable Australian bowler

Tpr Albert (Tibby) COTTER

Son of John Henry and Margaret Hay Cotter, of 266, Glebe Point Rd., Sydney, New South Wales. Australian Cricketer - toured England in 1905 and 1909.


Following the successful British example, the Australians thought to recruit Sportsmen's Battalions and used this lantern slide of Albert Cotter as part of their promotion of the idea, however it did not catch on in Australia.


The dead bodies of Australian soldiers killed in the charge on Beersheva lie in a row on the ground. The dead men were members of the 12th and perhaps the 4th Light Horse Regiments. The body marked with an 'X' is that of 924 Trooper Albert (Tibby) Cotter of the 12th Light Horse Regiment. His elder brother Pte John Cotter, 4th Battalion, was killed in action in France less than a month earlier on 4 October 1917.


the family's inscription reads: "In memory of our dearly loved son and brother"

For a biographical sketch of Cotter see http://www.anzacday.org.au/justsoldiers/cotter.pdf

And for his cricket career see http://stats.cricketworld.com/Players/0/277/277.html

edit: Please also see Philip's post #111 on page 5 for further details on Tibby Cotter

Edited by michaeldr
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Chris - you're very welcome

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General note; as I have mentioned before, most of the old photographs come from the AWM collection and are there listed as copyright expired/public domain. Much of the text below also comes from the AWM, being their captions to these photographs. These captions however are not absolutely 100% reliable and if you spot an error or can add any detail, then please let me know and I will insert an 'edit' into the post in question.

This next chapter includes a couple of pieces of aluminium taken from a tank at Gaza; perhaps it was this one (?)


And probably the youngest hero to fall in this theatre; certainly the youngest at rest in Beersheba War Cemetery - a lad who was a mere 16 years old when he died there.

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Note the elaborate group marker seen on the right of the line of wooden crosses


The inscribed panel from the group marker


It is an aluminium grave marker in two pieces, which are intended to be placed one above the other to form a whole. Each section has a hole drilled in its four corners, to allow it to be screwed to a decorative metal cross of local Palestinian manufacture… … …. The upper section is surmounted by a cut out cross with an engraved 'Rising Sun' badge beneath it bearing the words '4th Australian Light Horse Regiment' on scrolls in place of the usual 'Australian Commonwealth Military Forces.' Stamped into the metal underneath the badge is

"In Memory of

Lieut. Meredith B.P.G.

2nd Lieut. Burton F. J.

R.S.M. Wilson A.

147 Cpl. Mitchell S. N.

124 Cpl. Kinghorn R.W.

91 Tpr. Cleaver E.R.

1956A [Tpr.] Kerrigan W.E."

Stamped into the metal of the lower section is

"1501 [Tpr.] Morley R.H.

3650 [Tpr.] Wickham T.H.

741 [Tpr.] Reineke J.

1178 LCpl. McGrath F.E.

Killed in Action

31st October 1917

4th A.L.H. Regt."

… … … Where Tpr (Trooper) appear in square brackets it means that the word is indicated by a ditto mark on the actual plate' [information from the AWM, as is the following summary]

"This grave marker, made by WOII James Isaac (Jim) French of 4 Light Horse Regiment, from material cut from an old tank, was placed on an ornamental cross made by local Palestinian craftsmen, which marked the position of the mass grave for the eleven members of the regiment who had been killed in the charge at Beersheba on 31 October 1917. According to a letter written in July 1918 by French's father to Miss Cleaver, the sister of Trooper Cleaver who is listed on the plaque, Jim French was given permission to travel from Gaza to Beersheba with a small party of men to erect the marker and other wooden crosses in the cemetery. Evidence from the regiment's War Diary suggests that this must have occurred at the end of February of beginning of March 1918 when the regiment spent nearly three weeks in the Gaza area engaged in 'salvage' work. The bodies in the mass grave were exhumed by the Imperial War Graves Commission in Palestine in 1924 and given individual graves in Beersheba War Cemetery, on the same site as the original cemetery, which had been made immediately after the fall of the town in 1917. The plate which had marked the mass grave was forwarded to Australia for preservation. … … …French assumed that all eleven men who had died in the Charge had been killed in action and marked the plaque to this effect. In fact, three men died of wounds soon afterwards. One of these was Trooper Harold Thomas Wickham, who may have been the youngest light horseman to die in Palestine. Claiming to be a 21 year old farmer, he had enlisted in Victoria in March 1917 under the alias surname Wickham, naming his uncle (in fact his father), Thomas Bell, as his next of kin. Wickham was sixteen when he died on 1 November 1917 from the effects of Turkish machine gun fire sustained during the charge, which had resulted in multiple fractures and blood loss in one leg."

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These are the men in the order in which they are shown on their unique memorial

Lt. Benjamin Peter George MEREDITH

Aged 35 years. Son of John Jenner Meredith and Margaret Meredith. Native of Larpent, Colac, Victoria, Australia


Lt Meredith is seen here (3rd from the left) with a group near the Sphinx, probably in 1914. [Four others from this group also died: from left to right, Pte Miles N. Turner died on Gallipoli, Pte John Hugh McRae DoW on Malta, Pte Thomas Gordon Inglis KiA on Gallipoli, and Pte William John Smith KiA on Gallipoli. The only man to return to Australia was Cpl George Campbell Murrell (3rd from right)]


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2nd Lt. Francis James BURTON

Son of Frederick and Mary Burton, of Nullan, Victoria, Australia


Studio portrait of 2nd Lieutenant Francis James Burton, 4th Light Horse Regiment. A farmer from Nullan (near Minyip), Victoria, prior to enlisting as a Private on 22 August 1914. He embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Wiltshire on 19 October 1914 for Egypt. He served on Gallipoli and in Egypt, rising through the ranks to become Sergeant on 30 May 1916 and Squadron Sergeant Major on 15 March 1917. Sgt Burton was commissioned as 2nd Lt. on 20 September 1917 and killed in action on 31 October 1917 aged 24 years.


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RSM Alexander WILSON

Son of R. A. and Alice Wilson, of "Dumpies" Hotham St., Traralgon, Victoria, Australia.


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Cpl Sydney Newman MITCHELL

Son of James and Ellen Mitchell, of "Hills and Hollows," Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia


[Note the luxuriant growth of flowers on Cpl Mitchell's grave; flowers which only the day before had suffered a 39°c scorching.]

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L/Cpl Walter Rodney KINGHORN

Son of the late Frank and Elizabeth Kinghorn. Native of Byaduk, Victoria, Australia


The brass plate shown above was made for the original wooden cross of L/Cpl Kinghorn by the mechanics of 1st Squadron, AFC and was erected by C. J. Harman.


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Tpr Edward Randolph CLEAVER

Son of Edward and Mary Cleaver. Native of Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia.


Studio portrait of 91 Private Edward Randolph Cleaver, 4th Light Horse Regiment.

A butcher from Sale, Vic., he enlisted on 19 August 1914 and was described by his sister as the first man in Sale to enlist. He embarked on HMAT Wiltshire on 19 October 1914. Trooper Cleaver saw service with the 4th LHR on Gallipoli. On 31 October 1917 Cleaver died of wounds received in the charge at Beersheva. Cleaver was in the first squadron that charged; Major James Lawson who led the charge was riding alongside him when Cleaver was hit by machine gun fire. Cleaver was aged 31 years.


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Tpr William Edward KERRIGAN

Son of Robert John and Frances Sarah Kerrigan, of Enngonia, Bourke, New South Wales. Native of Cunnamulla, Queensland.


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Tpr Robert Herbert MORLEY

Son of Jesse and Sarah Morley, of Gormandale, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.

This family made a huge sacrifice during the Great War. Tpr Morley's brother, Pte George Thomas Morley died in France in 1916. Another relative, Pte Ernest Edward Morley died in France in 1917. And the nephew of these three, Pte Gordon Herbert Cleaver also died in France in 1916. [see http://cas.awm.gov.au/photograph/DA12926]


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Tpr Harold Thomas BELL served as H. T. WICKHAM

Aged 16 years. Son of Thomas and Margaret Bell. Native of Creswick, Victoria, Australia.

Further details from The AIF Project via http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse...tart=1193922059

Enlisted 17th March 1917 and joined 4th Light Horse Regiment, 28th Reinforcement. Embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT (A17) Port Lincoln 22nd June 1917. War service: Egypt & Palestine. Died of Wounds 1st November 1917. Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal. (His brother, 2379 Pte Samuel Arthur Bell, 57th Bn., AIF., was killed in action 8th August 1918, and is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.)


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L/Cpl Francis Edmund McGRATH

Son of Michael and Alicia McGrath, of Euston Rd., Oakleigh, Victoria, Australia. Native of Loch, Victoria.


Studio portrait of 1178 Trooper Francis Edmond McGrath, 4th Light Horse Regiment, of Woodleigh Vale, Vic. A farmer prior to enlisting in June 1915, Tpr McGrath embarked on board HMAT Kyarra (A55) on 20 August 1915. He served at Gallipoli and was later wounded at Tel el Kebir. In August 1917 he was promoted to Temporary Lance Corporal. L/Cpl McGrath died of wounds received at Beersheva on 31 October 1917 aged 22 years.


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Just a public thank-you to Michael for sending some super pictures from Beersheva.

Much appreciated.


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Fabulous thread - fascinating and moving.

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My thanks to LST_164 and to Nick82 for their comments above

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Today I have edited post # 5 to provide a link to a photograph of the medals of Col Maygar VC. The AWM's text beneath that photograph also provides some more biographical details



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Two recurring stories in the Great War are those concerning boy soldiers, and the man who was shot while taking a surrender. The only boy soldier which I have personally come across was 16 year old Tpr Harold Thomas Bell (served as H. T. Wickham - see posts Nos. 61 & 68). Beersheba War Cemetery also contains the only example that I can recall of the second; a man shot while taking a surrender.

Tpr Harry BUNYAN

Son of John and Martha Ann Bunyan, of Bodangora, New South Wales. Native of Bathurst, New South Wales


Informal portrait of 82 Trooper Harry Bunyan, 12th Light Horse Regiment, of Bodangora, via Wellington, NSW. Tpr Bunyan was a labourer before enlisting on 23 January 1915 at the age of 17 years and 3 months. He embarked from Sydney on HMAT Suevic with A Squadron on 13 June 1915 and was absorbed into the 1st LHR on Gallipoli on 29 August 1915, rejoining the 12th LHR on 22 December 1915 after the evacuation. He was killed in action on 31 October 1917, being shot while taking prisoners who had surrendered. He was posthumously awarded Military Medal for his 'gallantry and devotion to duty.'

The above mention of the award of an MM is taken from the AWM web site, however neither the headstone nor the CWGC's Debt of Honour details refer to this and so far I have not been able to trace any such award in the London Gazette



Initials: H

Nationality: Australian

Rank: Trooper

Regiment/Service: Australian Light Horse

Unit Text: 12th

Date of Death: 31/10/1917

Service No: 82

Additional information: Son of John and Martha Ann Bunyan, of Bodangora, New South Wales. Native of Bathurst, New South Wales.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: D. 63.


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I am very taken with John Hartley's title for his web-site; 'More than a Name'

It sums up what Great War studies should really be about; individuals rather than, heaven forbid, just a name, rank and number, "Men, gaps for filling."

The following few posts will, with the help of the AWM collection, try to put faces to some of the men named on the headstones at Beersheva

Lt Albert Stanley MUIR

Son of David and Jane Emily Muir, of "Merrinder," Coominya, Queensland


Portrait of Lieutenant Albert Stanley Muir, 1st Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron, of Ipswich, Qld. On 15 September 1914 Muir enlisted (as Private, number 10) and embarked from Sydney with the Machine Gun Section of the 5th Light Horse Regiment aboard HMAT (A24) Persic on 21 December 1914. He was killed in action on 5 November 1917 aged 23 years


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Tpr Claude Michael LEAHY

Son of George Leahy; husband of Ida May Leahy, of Miram, Victoria, Australia. Native of Mount Gambier, South Australia


Portrait of 2815 Trooper Claude Michael Leahy, of Yanac, Vic., on horseback. A member of the 20th reinforcements, 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, he was killed in action 31 October 1917 and buried at Beersheva


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