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Beersheba War Cemetery


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Tpr Alexander Thomas McCLYMONT

Son of Thomas Neil McClymont and Emily Louisa McClymont. Native of Inverell, New South Wales.

BeershevaMcClymontbrothers.jpg

Studio portrait of the three McClymont brothers from Inverell, NSW. Sitting on the left is Cecil James McClymont (discharged medically unfit 26 January 1918) sitting on the right is Alexander Thomas McClymont and sitting on the ground between them is Norman Strang McClymont (survived the war).

Alexander Thomas McClymont enlisted in the AIF on 1 August 1915 and joined the 12th reinforcements to the 1st Light Horse Regiment. He was taken on the strength of the 1LHR in Egypt on 1 March 1916, transferred to 12LHR, transferred back to the 1LHR and then back again to the 12LHR on 8 March 1917. Killed in action in the charge at Beersheva when he was 22 years old

BshevaAustralianTprATMcCLYMONT.jpg

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Cpl Wilfred Dudley LOVEGROVE

Son of William Ernest and Anne Lovegrove, of Rylstone, New South Wales. Native of Fullerton, New South Wales.

BeershevaCplLovegrove.jpg

Informal portrait of 1105 Corporal Wilfred Dudley Lovegrove, 7th Light Horse Regiment. Prior to his enlistment on 15 March 1915, Cpl Lovegrove was a forest guard of Fullerton, NSW. He sailed from Sydney with the 7th Reinforcements aboard HMAT Chilka on 7 June 1915. He was killed in action on 6 November 1917 aged 26 years.

BshevaAustralianCplWDLOVEGROVE.jpg

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Sgt John Hamilton AYLIFFE

Son of Frank and Elizabeth Ann Ayliffe, of Myponga, South Australia. Native of Purnamoota Station, Broken Hill, New South Wales.

BeershevaTprAyliffe.jpg

Studio portrait of 260 Trooper James Hamilton Ayliffe, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, of Broken Hill, NSW. A bushman prior to enlisting in August 1914, Tpr Ayliffe embarked from Adelaide on board HMAT (A17) Port Lincoln on October 1914. He served on Gallipoli from 9 May 1915 until the evacuation. He was made Corporal on 9 July 1916 and was wounded in action at El-Arish on 9 January 1917. Ayliffe was promoted to Sergeant on 8 July 1917 and he died of wounds received in action at Beersheva on 7 November 1917.

BshevaAustralianSgtJohnHAYLIFFE.jpg

Sgt Ayliffe was the eldest of three brothers who all served with the AIF:

Pte William Hawden Ayliffe, 50th Battalion, was killed in action on 25 April 1918 at Villers-Bretonneux, France, aged 25 years (see https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1246506),

and Sgt Frank Keith Ayliffe, 5th Motor Transport Company returned to Australia in October 1918, aged 24 years.

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Tpr Ernest James CRAGGS

Son of A. H. and S. M. Craggs, of Burwood Rd., Enfield, New South Wales. Native of Alexandria, Sydney, New South Wales.

BeershevaTprCraggs.jpg

BeershevacrosstoTprCraggs.jpg

Grave of 2373 Trooper Ernest James Craggs, A Squadron, 12th Light Horse Regiment. Born at Alexandria, NSW, the son of A. H. and S. M. Craggs of Burwood Road, Enfield, NSW. Attended Canterbury and Belmore North Public Schools before working as a drover and prior to enlisting on 10 February 1917. The regiment went overseas to Egypt and after a period in the desert joined other units in operations in Gaza in April 1917. On 31 October 1917, 19 year old Craggs was killed during the charge on the Turkish held town of Beersheva. In a letter to Cragg's mother, Cragg's commanding officer, Lieutenant Edward Ralston, related that

"the day before the fight, he (Craggs) was laughing and joking as usual and was full of spirit all through the long night ride. He rode into action just behind me and the last I saw of him, he was standing in his stirrups and cheering."

Ralston was wounded at this point and 'A' Squadron Sergeant John Bailey went on

"He (Craggs) and I were wounded at the same time, he was hit in the head and chest. I helped him under cover of his horse which was killed. I held the poor boy's hands while he passed away. He only lived for about ten minutes after he was wounded and did not have any pain, thank God."

BshevaAustraliansTprEJCRAGGS.jpg

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Dawley Jockey

Michael superb pictures and topic ,

May I ask if amongst your pictures is there one of the grave of Pte E(Ernest) Maiden, 267374, 1/6th RWF he is buried in the Beersheba war cemetery in grave F.57 and is amongst the 200+ men who I am researching who came from Dawley in Shropshire.

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DJ,

Thank you for your comments. I will check for you, but I don't think that I have Pte Maiden's headstone pic. It is quite likely that I will revisit Beersheva later in the year and when I do I will try to remember to get this for you. Please feel free to remind me of this in a couple of months or so

regards

Michael

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Dawley Jockey

Michael, Thank you for your offer, If you do return to Beersheba a picture of E.Maidens final resting place would be very much appreciated.

regards

DJ

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Tpr John Richard BOUNDEY

BeershevaTprBounday.jpg

Original grave marker of 2859 Trooper John Richard Boundey, 20th Reinforcements, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, of Tumby Bay, SA. Tpr Boundey was a labourer prior to enlistment on 23 February 1916, and on 27 July 1916,he embarked from Adelaide aboard SS Walwa [correctly the 11,000 ton ex-P&O liner, the SS Malwa].

(the following additional information is from My link)

Tpr Boundey received gun shot wounds in the neck and right shoulder at El Arish on 23rd December 1916. He returned to service in February 1917, but was taken sick (Contusion of Back) at Shellal in May. He had fallen together with a horse, which then rolled over on him, got up and then dragged him for 500 yds, with his foot jammed in the stirrup. Back from hospital in June, Tpr Boundey was killed by a shell on 31 October 1917, aged 27 years. He was buried the next day by Chaplain J. H. Bates.

Tpr Boundey's mother, Mrs. Mary Jane Boundey, received a pension with effect from 13th January 1918. She also received a memorial plaque, scroll, British War and Victory Medals, but only on 26 June 1930.

BshevaAustralianTprJRBOUNDEY.jpg

edit:

Looking again at the AWM's photograph of Tpr Boundey's grave where he was buried by Padre Bates, I am struck by a couple of things

The building in the background of the AWM's photograph appears to be the Turkish railway station at Beersheva. The recent housing development between the station and the cemetery makes it hard to judge the distance, but it may be that today Tpr Boundey lies further away from the station. And when comparing the position of the wooden cross (back to the station) with that of the headstone today (facing the station), it appears that the grave has been turned around through 180 degrees

Edited by michaeldr
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Michael ... superb photos and research to your project. As an aside to the headstone inscription and meaning I read a while ago a wonderful description of inscriptions and the fact that there does not seem to be a central repositry (availableto the general public) of headstone inscriptions .. he thought that "It is perhaps appropriate that they are not available on a database - but only to the visitor to the graveyard as a sort of personal and intimate whisper from the past."

A few years ago I embarked on a project to photograph and describe the graves and cemeteries that the 300 boys from my old school, Sydney Grammar School (Sydney, Australia), who were killed in WW1. Unfortunately I doubt I will get to Beersheva, and there are three boys there:

Tibby Cotter (31/10/1917) .. D.50

Mervyn Woodd (31/10/1917) .. D.46

Frederick Guthrie (03/11/1917) .. C.30

I would appreciate it immensely if you could get photos of these boys. Tibby Cotter is already mentioned and I know, from school records, that Tibby and Mervyn were well known to each other. Perhaps you could get a photo of Tibby and Mervyn's grave together?

Kindest Regards

Philip Creagh (SGS '59 - '66)

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Philip,

the CWGC office at Maidenhead have been kind enough to check their records at my request for epitaphs (or the lack thereof) re. specific graves. Sometimes a photo won't tell you what is inscribed - or even if there is an inscription in the first place - because of foliage.

It is true, though, that there is no single comprehensive source for these epitaphs which can readily be accessed.

LST_164

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Philip,

Thank you for your comments on this thread and for your providing the quote:

"...they are not available on a database - but only to the visitor to the graveyard as a sort of personal and intimate whisper from the past."

This latter remark is so true, and how moving it is to stand before the headstone and read the family's intimate message from some ninety odd years ago.

As you will see from my above reply to DJ, I feel that there is every likelihood of my revisiting Beersheva later this year, in which case I will be happy to photograph the headstones which you mention. In the meantime, if there is anything which you can add at this time regarding Tibby Cotter, then I shall be very glad to see it here.

regards

Michael

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Quote from my late edit to post # 83 above ; Looking again at the AWM's photograph of Tpr Boundey's grave where he was buried by Padre Bates, I am struck by a couple of things

The building in the background of the AWM's photograph appears to be the Turkish railway station at Beersheva. The recent housing development between the station and the cemetery makes it hard to judge the distance, but it may be that today Tpr Boundey lies further away from the station. And when comparing the position of the wooden cross (back to the station) with that of the headstone today (facing the station), it appears that the grave has been turned around through 180 degrees

Below we see another example of an original grave and cross with Beersheva's Turkish rail station clearly to be seen in the background. This is further confirmation that not only were the vast majority of the graves concentrated here after 1918, but also that some, or perhaps all of the original 139 burials were later also moved, and in that process, turned around to face the other way.

Tpr Francis KELLY

BeershevaTprKelly.jpg

Original grave marker of 2462 Trooper Francis Kelly, 17th Reinforcements, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, of Booborowie, SA. An overseer prior to enlisting on 1 February 1916, he embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Kabinga on 8 May 1916. Before enlisting Tpr Kelly was a member of the 23rd Light Horse Regiment, Citizens Military Forces. He was killed in action 31 October 1917, aged 24 years.

BshevaAustralianTprFrancisKELLY-1.jpg

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Tpr Thomas Roydon HOGARTH MM

Son of William and Isabel Hogarth; husband of Agnes L. Hogarth, of "Doon," Angas Rd., Mitcham, South Australia. Native of Middleton, South Australia.

BeershevaHogarthcross.jpg

Original grave marker of 3295 Trooper Thomas Roydon Hogarth MM, 27th Reinforcements, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, of Medindie, SA. A station manager prior to enlisting on 27 December 1916, he embarked from Sydney aboard HMAT Port Sydney on 9 May 1917. Tpr Hogarth died of wounds on 1 November aged 35 years. He was posthumously awarded the Military Medal (see SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 4 FEBRUARY, 1918, page 1618, & the Commonwealth Gazette No. 95 ) From the latter:

'During action in front of BEERSHEBA, 31st October, 1917. For conspicuous gallantry as a stretcher bearer in action. He went out under heavy machine gun and rifle fire to bring in his Troop Leader who was mortally wounded. His fellow stretcher bearer was killed and he himself brought the Officer to shelter. Three times during the action he brought wounded men to shelter under heavy fire, and was eventually wounded seriously. His was courage of a very high order, and set a magnificent example to the detachment.'

[see http://www.aif.adfa.edu.au:8080/showPerson?pid=140289]

Tpr Hogarth's two brothers also served in the AIF: Pte Vance Bowman Hogarth and Lt William Warren Bowman Hogarth MC; both survived

BshevaAustralianTprTRHOGARTHMM.jpg

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Lt. Morton Reginald SANDLAND

BeershevaSandlandscross.jpg

Original grave marker of Lieutenant Morton Reginald Sandland, 18th Reinforcements, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, of Kooringa, SA.

A farmer prior to enlisting on 14th August 1914, he was assigned regimental number 191 as a Private with A Squadron, 3rd Light Horse Regiment. He embarked from Adelaide aboard HMAT Port Lincoln on 22nd October 1914.

Sandland served on Gallipoli, from where he was transferred to hospital on Malta in July 1915, suffering from Bronchitis. He returned to his unit in late August, but was again sent to hospital on Malta in October 1915, this time with Appendicitis. In mid-December he was transferred from Malta to Alexandria and there suffered with Enteric, before a decision was made in January 1916 to return him to Australia for convalescence.

In late March 1916 a Medical Board acceded to his request and did not release him at that time, however, a month later he was deemed fit enough to return to Return to Duty. So, by August 1916, Morton Reginald SANDLAND had not only recovered his strength and but had also arrived back in the middle-east war zone from Australia. He rejoined the 3rd Light Horse and was quickly promoted to Sergeant, before becoming a 2nd Lieutenant in early 1917; he attended and passed the 23rd Officers Course at Zeitoun in February 1917. By May 1917 Sandland was a Lieutenant and in July 1917 he qualified as an Instructor, having passed the 27th Hotchkiss Gun Course, also held at Zeitoun.

Lt. Sandland was killed in action 31 October 1917 and buried the next day by Chaplain J. H. Bates

In 1920 his 1914/15 Star was issued, and in 1921 Mrs. Caroline Sandland received her son's Memorial Scroll and the King's Message. His British War Medal was also issued in 1921, and the next year she received his Victory Medal and a Memorial Plaque.

(additional information has been taken from http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=8078154 )

BshevaAustraliaLtMRSANDLAND.jpg

A post-script regarding whether or not some of the original graves in Beersheba War Cemetery were moved and/or turned around - Please see the final paragraph of this 1924 letter addressed to Mrs. Sandlands

LetterreBeershevagraveposition2Aug1924.jpg

"While the place of burial remains unchanged, the former registration (grave No. 31) has been altered to conform with the uniform layout of this cemetery."

These words are open to more than one interpretation (indeed, the place of burial does remain unchanged; it is still Beersheba War Cemetery) and this letter may have been seen a kindly way of explaining any minor movement of the grave. However, the photographic evidence (archive and present day) suggests that some movement has taken place.

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Quote: However, the photographic evidence (archive and present day) suggests that some movement has taken place.

What if I am mistaken? What if the original graves have not been moved?

After all, as I have stated previously, because of the recent housing development between the War Cemetery and the Turkish railway station, it is really very difficult to judge if distances have remained the same.

If the original graves have not been moved, then what we have today is one of two possibilities:

Either the modern marker (usually known as the headstone) is now at the foot of the grave and facing up the plot towards the 'head'

Or

The headstone is indeed at the head of the grave, but if so, then the inscription must be on the back of the stone.

Is this correct, and if so, which is the answer?

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Perhaps the map below will be of some help

The archive photographs from the AWM show the 1917 crosses with their backs to the Turkish Railway Station.

However, as you will see from posts nos. 1, 12 & 57 above, today all the headstones in this cemetery have their backs to the Cross of Sacrifice, and they face towards the old Turkish Railway Station

BeershebaWarCemeteryMap0001.jpg

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It is with some regret that I note that there are as yet no replies to my post above: I was hoping for more help here. Let me explain that I have no experience of Western European CWGC Cemeteries. (The nearest that I have visited is one in southern Bavaria, which dates only from WWII.)

Gallipoli represents more than 90% of my experience in this field and there I am very pleased to say, original battlefield burials have been respected and not moved about to suite the later ideas of cemetery 'planning'.

See here the plan of V Beach Cemetery http://www.cwgc.org/plans/15-81/M002.GIF and note the random nature of the original burials which have not been re-moved when the later IWGC cemetery was established

I believe that the text 'Rest in Peace' represents more than three simple words, but rather, they are the ideal to be granted anyone who has served his country to the utmost of his ability and existance!

This being so, then why should the 139 original burials here in Beersheva have been dug up and then turned around through 180 degrees, simply to suite the whim of the IWGC cemetery planners?

I still hope that someone with more experience in this field than I, can come forward with an explanation for this.

Michael

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continuing with the heroes buried at Beersheva

Spr William George TWIST

Son of George and Elizabeth Twist, of Knapp St. Valley, Brisbane, Queensland. Native of Erdington, Birmingham, England.

BeershevaSprTwist.jpg

The lone grave of 1348 Sapper William George Twist, 2nd Signal Troop of Valley, Qld., who was killed in action at Shellal on 17 April 1917 aged 39 years. Spr Twist enlisted on 21 August 1915 at Valley, Qld., and had been born at Erdington, Birmingham, England. Spr Twist was later reburied in Beersheva

BshevaAustralianSprWGTWIST.jpg

His record may be seen at http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=8395821

Before enlisting William George Twist had been a bridge builder. He died from a bomb wound to the head. Taken first to the 1st LH Field Ambulance at Shellal, he died the same day and was later buried near there by Chaplain M. R. Mailey, at map ref: Bearing 163 from Hill 300, Tel-el-Farah, and 364 from Hill 360.

After his son's death William George's father suffered from heart problems, was hospitalized and died early. William George's mother dealt with the aftermath of their son's death mostly by herself. In 1919, she enquired if it was possible for her son's body to be repatriated to Australian. That same year, 1919, she received a (very) small package of his effects. They were; 1 shirt, 2 certificates, 2 pairs of socks, 1 balaclava and 1 badge.

In July 1922 she received a letter explaining that two versions of an inscription for the headstone had been received, but that there was room on the stone for only one of the versions. Mrs Elizabeth Twist, received her son's memorial scroll and the King's Message on 13th November 1922. Mrs Twist received the Memorial Plaque on 15th January 1923. On 8th February 1923 she received her son's Victory Medal. In 1941 she wrote about a replacement Nearest Female Relative Badge and was advised that such a replacement badge would cost her 6/4d.* In 1942 she wrote enquiring about a pension.

On some of the letters her address is given as 'Gaza Cottage.' At the end of the file one is left with the impression of a lady, left with only memories, lost and without help or advice following the death of the son. How many times must such a tale have been repeated throughout the empire?

* See post #105 for a photograph of what the Female Raltive's Badge would have looked like

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  • 4 weeks later...

Tpr Henry Charles TROWBRIDGE

Son of John Talbot Trowbridge and Rose Harriette Trowbridge, of Moonah, Tasmania. Native of Tasmania.

BeershevaTrowbridgecross.jpg

Original grave marker of 998 Trooper Henry Charles Trowbridge, 5th Reinforcements, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, of Branxholme, Tas.

A grocer's assistant prior to enlisting on 29 January 1915, he embarked from Adelaide aboard HMAT Botanist on 2 June 1915. He joined his unit on Gallipoli, 28th August 1915.

In August/September 1916 while in Egypt he suffered from influenza, and earlier that year he had a few days care because of his bad teeth.

In the action at Beersheva, Tpr Trowbridge received a gun-shot wound to the abdomen on 31st October and died on 1st November 1917 aged 22 years. He was buried the next day by Chaplain J. Boardman.

His family received a Memorial Scroll and a Memorial Plaque, as well as his 1914/15 Star, BWM and Victory Medal

(additional information from the NAA)

BshevaAustralianTprHCTROWBRIDGE.jpg

His brother-in-law, Lt. Charles Daniel Lucas, 12th Battalion, was killed in action on 25 July 1916 at Poziers (see http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=589177)

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Tpr Robert Raymond DAWSON

Son of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Dawson of Morchard, South Australia

BeershevaTprDawson.jpg

Original grave marker of 286 Trooper Robert Raymond Dawson, 20th Reinforcements, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, of Orroroo, SA.

A farmer prior to enlisting on 2nd March 1916, he embarked from Adelaide aboard SS Malwa on 27 July 1916. A month later he disembarked and went strait to hospital with dysentery; he was there for a month. In September 1916 he was again under treatment, this time for tonsillitis

Despite these two spells of illness, Tpr Dawson was 5ft 11½ inches tall and must have been of a strong physique, perfect for the heavy work of a stretcher bearer. Robert Raymond Dawson was killed in action whilst stretcher bearing on 31 October 1917, aged 23 years. He was buried the next day by Chaplain J. H. Bates

BshevaAustralianTprRRDAWSON.jpg

In the fullness of time his widowed mother received her son's effects, a small pension (₤2 p.f.[per fortnight?]), a plaque and scroll, and her son's medals.

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Pte Norman Allen CHALLIS

Son of Myra Alice Challis, of "Wyangarie," Pile St., Marrickville, New South Wales, and the late George Sidney Samuel Challis. Native of Tamworth, New South Wales.

BeershevaChallisandSandlandcrosses.jpg

The grave of 16135 Private Norman Allen Challis of the 4th Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance of Connewarre VIC, who was killed in action on 1 November 1917

BshevaAustralianPteNACHALLIS.jpg

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Sgt Robert Percy THOMSON AAMC

Son of John James and Annie Thomson; husband of Laura Thomson, of "Strathaven," Victoria St., Eaglehawk, Victoria, Australia. Native of Brisbane, Queensland

BeershevaThomsoncross.jpgThe original grave marker of 433 Sergeant Robert Percy "Physician" Thomson of Townsville, Qld. He was originally buried near Wadi Ghuzze and reinterred at Beersheva Military Cemetery in 1920.

A clerk aged 42 when he enlisted, Thomson was a well known footballer when younger. He was killed in action 17 April 1917

BshevaAustralianSgtRPTHOMSON.jpg

further details on Sgt Thomson are to be found at http://www.aif.adfa.edu.au:8080/showPerson?pid=300273

Religion: Church of England

Occupation: Clerk

Address: Will Street, Townsville, North Qld

Next of kin: Wife, Mrs Laura Thomson, c/o Mrs J H Stewart, High Street, Eaglehawk, Victoria

Enlistment date: 5 October 1914

Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll: 5 October 1914

Rank on enlistment: Corporal

Unit name: 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance

Embarkation details: Unit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A30 Borda on 15 December 1914

Rank from Nominal Roll: Private

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  • 2 weeks later...

Further to Post #2,

Beersheba (also Beersheva, or Be'er Sheva) has the distinction of being the final resting place of three VCs

The first of these three headstones is that of Major A M Lafone VC:

See <a href="http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=84768&hl" target="_blank">http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...ic=84768&hl</a>

Since 2007 the green bushes in the border behind this stone have been removed. Let us hope that they can be restored soon

<img src="http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d42/thedards/BeershevaLafoneheadstone.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" />

Quote from 'The Yarn of a Yeoman' by S. F. Hatton, Hutchinson & Co., 1930

"Point 720, on the right, allotted to B Squadron, was in command of Major Lafone – 'dear old Laffy' as he was affectionately known by all his men. This was a cone shaped hill having a small ruined stone house on the summit. There were two shallow rifle pits on the right of the house, a small trench on the left flank and a slightly deeper cruciform trench some hundred yards in the rear. About three hundred yards to the right flank was another small hill across the hollow which would give the flank protection. Major Lafone occupied the trenches on the hill with two troops with a strong picquet on the smaller hill to the flank and placed one troop as a standing patrol about one mile in the rear........

'Laffy' always had that peculiar mannerism, possessed I believe, in common with the Prince of Wales, of fidgeting with his tie. He was exceptionally fond of his men and withal possessed a rather dry sense of humour. I remember on one occasion a new officer rather fancying 'his weight' had gone into 'B' Squadron mess-hut at Geneffa and in a high-falutin modern-mannered voice had called, 'Any complaey-ents.' The tone of his voice struck the troopers as so affected, that they promptly gave him the 'bird,' 'blew him out one,' 'cut him off a slice of cake,' or 'gave him a raspberry' – whichever expression you prefer. 'Laffy' had ordered two or three offending ones before him and after remonstrating fairly mildly, had finished up by saying: 'You know, I really can't have my junior officers presented with the Order of the Royal Richard.'

The post of 720 had no sooner expressed amazement at the appearance of the flares on 630, than they could discern in the half light large bodies of horsemen riding towards them. They rapidly opened fire and caused them to turn about, whilst further Turkish cavalry, who had somehow ridden round to the rear of the post, were given an equally hot reception until realizing their mistake, they also retired in disorder.

As it grew lighter, the little post saw a large body of Turkish infantry massing for an attack. Heedless of losses, on they came, attempting to carry the hill with the bayonet; they formed an easy target and dropped in dozens. 'Laffy' with a rifle was calling his score: 'Eight, nine, ten – missed him – eleven.' Their assault was held up, so a squadron of Turkish Lancers came through to attack. They charged, but their saddles were emptied like knocking down nine-pins. Corporal Rangecroft – a prominent member of the Catford Bridge Rugger Club – (How are you Rangy? – I have often scragged you in a tackle since then) with his Hotchkiss swept off a line of about thirty, shouting, 'That's the stuff to give the b---s.' Twice more they came, infantry and cavalry together, but still the little post beat them off. Then they brought up their artillery and started heavily shelling the trenches and the stone house. Sergeant Broster who, at great risk, had gone back with a message to Headquarters, arrived back at the trench at 7.30, with a verbal message that Major Lafone was to hang on. The right flank was driven in, so that the main garrison was now unprotected on its flank, and as the firing line developed, the whole of that hill was so swept with rifle and machine gun fire from about two thousand troops, that all the garrison who could not find shelter in the shallow trenches, became casualties.

Lieutenant Van den Bergh, in the face of increasingly desperate odds, and with nearly all his men killed or wounded, showed invincible courage and lightheartedness in his defence of the stone house, but he was soon mortally wounded, his last words with a wistful wan smile being, 'Give my love to my mother.' Lieutenant Stuart rushed across to take his place, he was soon wounded also, and Major Lafone on hearing this rushed to the rifle pits by the stone house. 'Laffy' now sent his message: 'My casualties are heavy, six stretchers required. I shall hold on to the last, as I cannot get my wounded away.' He constantly cheered on his survivors, remarking: 'The infantry will soon be up,' but a glance behind showed not a vestige of movement on the desert plain. The wounded had drunk all the garrison water, and as the sun rose higher thirst became intense.

A body of enemy cavalry creeping round the flank attacked the waiting led horses; they had come badly under fire earlier in the day and every horse holder had about ten horses apiece. Squadron Sergeant-Major Dixon, in charge, managed to get a Hotchkiss into action and successfully beat them off. Alas! The horses were waiting for riders who would never return; for about eleven o'clock under cover of machine gun and artillery fire the Turks launched a final attempt against the stone house. There were only wounded here, but under 'Laffy's' enthusiasm they fought till they were killed. As the enemy came on and in, Major Lafone marched out into the open firing point-blank from the shoulder and at twenty yards beat back this last attack, only to fall desperately wounded. His last words to Sergeant Broster were: 'I wonder if there is any chance of the infantry getting up in time?'

Thus died a hero and a gentleman

The little garrison fought on until there were only three survivors, and these, helping as many wounded as possible, made a dash for Karm. Looking back, they saw the Turkish cavalry sweep over the hill, but the post had been held to the bitter end, and long enough to render its capture useless to the enemy.

The following morning two hundred and eight dead Turks were counted in and around the position.

It would be impossible to mention all the heroic deeds that were done that day – October 27th – two days after the Feast of Crispian, nor can I append a list of those who received decorations for their services. The total honours received by the Regiment for its gallant defence were one V.C., one D.S.O., six M.C.'s for the officers, and for the men, two D.C.M's and seven M.M.'s."

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from the above quote;

Lieutenant Van den Bergh, in the face of increasingly desperate odds, and with nearly all his men killed or wounded, showed invincible courage and lightheartedness in his defence of the stone house, but he was soon mortally wounded, his last words with a wistful wan smile being, 'Give my love to my mother.'

BeershevaVandenBergh0001-1.jpg

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The sub-title of this thread reads 'some random observations'

and in keeping with that random nature of this thread , posts 19, 20 & 21, covered some nearby monuments:

see http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=148377&st=0

Let us now return to those nearby locations

The first photograph is an aerial shot, while the second one is taken from the minaret of the mosque, and they show the Ottoman HQ opposite the quite formal layout of the gardens; the first ever such gardens in Beersheva. At the centre of these gardens is seen a marble obelisk set upon a plinth. This, I am informed, was erected to mark the early 1917 victories of the Turks at Gaza (I & II).

BeershevaArial1917.jpg

BeershevaFritzGroll.jpg

Acknowledgements;

The above photographs are from Benjamin Z. Kedar's book 'The Changing Land between the Jordan and the Sea' [iSBN: 965-05-0975-5]

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