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Gareth Davies

Beersheba

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Gareth Davies

If this sort of nonsense is being peddled by PhD qualified historians the what hope is there?

 

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/10/29/battle-beersheba-should-be-cornerstone-australias-identity

 

"Beersheba was an Australian led victory ". Oh, apart from that chap in charge, Allenby, who was British.  Yes, the Corps Commander (Chauvell) was Australian but none of his 3 Divisional Commanders were Australian.  The commander of the Australian Mounted Division, which is the Div that 4th & 12th ALH Regts served in was Chaytor, a Brit.  

 

And don't get me going on bayonets.

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squirrel

And a few thousand Brits attacking Gaza at the time...

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michaeldr

see also 

 

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Gareth Davies

No, the attack on Gaza didn't take place until the following day.  There were however 3 British infantry divisions attacking Beersheba on the day that 4th & 12th ALH Regts made their charge.

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michaeldr
2 minutes ago, Gareth Davies said:

There were however 3 British infantry divisions attacking Beersheba on the day that 4th & 12th ALH Regts made their charge.

 

detail from the other thread

 

In the Third Battle of Gaza 
53 Australians and 9 New Zealanders 
died on 31st October 1917 and are buried at Beersheva

 

In that same battle, on that same day, 31st October 1917, 
159 United Kingdom men died and are buried along side their Australian and New Zealand comrades in Beersheva CWGC Cemetery 

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Gareth Davies

Thank you Michael.  

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

You like most of us all agree the British bore the major fighting at Beersheba, while the Cavalry had one small battle that lasted all day sucking in three LH and Mounted Bdes, against less then two Ottoman Infantry Companies and 6 MGs on Tel el Saba.

 

The late charge was against barely one Ottoman Infantry Bn of around 200 + men with two MGs (2nd Regt) as the rear guard of the withdrawing Ottoman 3rd Corps.

 

But since we (Australia) is making such a big deal of this action they tend to only say that, and the 4 LH Bde, even missing out on the other LH bdes that did a lot of work during that battle. But forget completely the major fighting by our British mates to the west who cleared the battle area and made the 3rd Ottoman Corps retire, not the LH attack or the charge.

 

But we are talking to the deaf here mate sorry if they don't mention your vital effort so I hope this helps the record.

 

Cheers

 

S.B

Edited by stevebecker

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

Yes the Simpson story has much the same as my expirences while on cadre staff with 12th/16th HRL (Hunter River Lancers) in Tamworth Australia, as a regular NCO I was attached the CMF (or Reserve Army)  same as your TF or TA in the UK. Which help train and admin for our citizen soldiers when not in camp.

 

This Regt has the history of the old 12th LHR who were recruited in the outer areas of NSW and as such its history continues with the Army Reserve.

 

While here I had to help organize the Beersheba celabrations during the early 90's, amoung the names I was given to invite were many that didn't serve with the 12th LHR, but in other Regts, and many of these were not at the Battle.

 

When I made comment to this I was reminded that all Regts fought at Beersheba and that was enough as so few old men were around at this time.

 

When the media came to interview these old men they asked all the bull **** questions to these old men wanting to know about the charge when the man they asked was not in the Battle let alone the charge, but he gave an answer as it appears that was not the first time he had been asked.

 

So personal stories by these old men should be taken with a grain of salt, that's why I have trouble with the stories about MGS at Galipoli, I know that stories can be mistaken and should always be checked, but then you can be disalusioned like me?

 

Cheers

 

S.B

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aussiesoldier

Steve,

 

 

One should not ignore the firsthand account from Ion Idriess of the 7th Light Horse who wrote an account of what he saw from Tel el Sakaty despite that being geographically impossible.

 

All of the regiments of the Australian Light Horse served at Be'er Sheva, except the 13th, attached as divisional cavalry (with swords) on the Western Front. The 15th Light Horse served at Be'er Sheva as part of the Imperial Camel Corps with the regiment being raised after the battle.

 

I am a little disappointed in the (I hope light-hearted) 'bashing' we simple colonials have had on this topic. It must be said that Chauvel had a completely free hand in selecting his division commanders and chose to keep the British because he valued their talents and knowledge. He understood, probably better than most mounted officers in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, the demands of desert warfare. He had proven himself at Romani, when his skill and leadership saved the battle despite the poor generalship of his British leaders. Allenby arrived to read a recommendation to replace him but chose to keep in in command because Allenby saw in him the talent and leadership skills he needed to lead 'colonial' troops the way we prefer to be led. 

 

The point of the charge was that ALL were aware of the need to seize the wells before they were destroyed and although the XXth Corps attacks had effectively taken the town, the wells would have been destroyed had it not been for the armée blanche charge across the ground to the south. This, in turn, was impossible if the vital ground of Tel el Saba had not fallen to the ANZAC Division (Australian Light Horse and NZ Mounted).  It was a combined operation BUT Chauvel had the presence of mind and the faith in Brig Grant of the 4th Brigade to give him the responsibility to take Be'er Sheva before last light.  I am not sure if a shorter order of this magnitude has ever been given. "Put Grant straight at it.'

 

One army, many nations.

 

I also served in the CMF and later the Army Reserve but I preferred the Infantry, the only arm to 'Take and Hold Ground', although, appreciated the armoured taxis and the noisy tanks as a momentary distraction.  I must say, I enjoyed my encounters with 12/16 Hunter River Lancers.  They were good guys, despite being noisy.

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michaeldr
3 hours ago, aussiesoldier said:

I am a little disappointed in the (I hope light-hearted) 'bashing' we simple colonials have had on this topic.

 


If you see this topic as “'bashing' we simple colonials” then that is most regrettable: I thought that we were just trying to put the record strait after a deluge of misinformation. 

 

Have you seen the other thread here http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/233115-beersheva-cwgc-cemetery-2015-2018/ ?
Do you believe that the new buildings in the CWGC cemetery at Beersheva contribute to a balanced view of what actually happened there in 1917?  

And no less importantly, do they enhance the respect for all who fell here?

 

The ramblings of a few old men with defective memories is not the point here (mush as Steve would like to advance his own agenda ["MGS at Galipoli" sic]). 

What appears to be missing is firstly, a sound education in history 
and secondly, a moral obligation to speak out when that history is abused by the ill informed 

Edited by michaeldr

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aussiesoldier

Michael,

 

My comments were directed more at the original contributors. A 'national' focus on this battle will always emphasize the role played by your forces. The charge is clearly the most flamboyant aspect of the battle because of its apparent success. 

 

I have read the previous thread and found them completely fascinating, opening up content I was largely unaware of, particularly the roles played by the Somerset and Notts Batteries. Whilst I had some awareness of the role of the XXth Corps, it was good to see the content linked to photographs. I have read very extensively on Chauvel and Allenby, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, T E Lawrance, and especially the Light Horse, including articles written for the Australian Army in the 1920's on the lessons learned from Be'er Sheva and the battles afterward. I hope, therefore, your comment on a sound historical knowledge was directed at others, because as a secondary history teacher and an ex-serviceman, I take the research of battles I comment upon very seriously.  I agree with the need to better inform those that do not know the full details and I find that this site is an excellent source for just that information.  

 

I would, however, point out that not all accounts are accurate. Allenby himself failed to acknowledge that part played by the 12th LH when he wrote, "The honour and glory of securing the town went to the 4th Australian Light Horse in a cavalry charge that in notoriety ranks with the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854." According to the good general only the 4th LH charged and captured the town. "Time was short, and the Brigade Commander, Brigadier-General Grant DSO, sent his leading regiment to charge the trenches." A reading of the unit history, Thunder of the hooves, Kenneth Hollis, shows some degree of continuing angst at this omission. Research leads us all to the truth and I enjoy the journey.

 

I hope that we all continue to offer opinions, some learned and others not, in the pursuit of knowledge and truth, but I feel that a sense of humour offers a light-hearted avenue for good-natured banter.

 

I will be in Be'er Sheva in January and I am looking forward to seeing the cemetery area. I am particularly keen to pay respect to the graves of Trooper Albert Tibby Cotter, the only Australian test cricketer to be killed in action, and Col. Leslie Cecil Magyar VC, who won his VC in the Boer War and its killed by shrapnel from an aircraft's bombs and bleeds to death when his horse bolts off into the scrub.

 

Thanks.

George

Edited by aussiesoldier

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Gareth Davies

It doesn't help when 2 Prime Ministers spout cod history.  Beersheba was most definitely not "The Last Successful Cavalry Charge in History".  

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Steven Broomfield

Sadly, however, it makes a good headline for idle journalists

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gilly100

Hi All

I see all sides to this. Growing up in Perth as a kid in the sixties, we only ever knew that it was Ausrralians and Kiwis at Gallipoli. I think we are a bit better thesedays in understanding the involvement of other countries combatants,  although some of our 'best' politicians could do with a more broad education on military history, amongst other things. The charge at Beersheba will always be a proud moment in our military history, the word flamboyant mentioned by George being most fitting. It was a snap decision and bold, and it bore fruit. I have also seen a few Lighthorsemen comments on the Yeomanry men, Scotsmen and so on that were most complimentary as comrades in arms in this theatre of war. Perhaps one other thing we as Australians should be more aware of is the contribution by our indigenous Diggers, some at Beersheba too, and the fact they were not even recognised as citizens in their own country. We are probably not alone in this ignorance. I met a US serviceman on holiday once. Well versed in his own country's war efforts in WW2, he had little to no knowledge of what our blokes did in New Guinea at places like Buna, Gona and other places where both Aussies and Americans fought nearby.

This forum has been excellent in expanding my knowledge beyond our own mob. Hope it continues.

Ian

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Gareth Davies

No it wasn't a snap decision.  

 

 

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michaeldr
4 hours ago, aussiesoldier said:

I hope, therefore, your comment on a sound historical knowledge was directed at others,

 

You can be happily assured that it was not directed at you, George

 

Michael

 

 

 

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gilly100
9 hours ago, Gareth Davies said:

No it wasn't a snap decision.  

 

 

Ok Gareth, but to some of those who were called upon late in the day to charge with bayonets in hand I imagine it came as a surprise. Happy to be corrected. The descendants of those who charged and who made their way overseas to remember can be rightfully proud. Our PM wouldn't be the first and probably not the last to get something wrong on our military history. I suppose we can all try harder to learn more widely on conflicts and understand and appreciate all contributions made by all participants. Perhaps pop a line to those that have upset you and give them a gentle reminder. I think, for most Aussies though, when taking in the Beersheba battle, the mounted infantry charge by the 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse will always be most present in their minds. As to the new visitor centre at Beersheba Cemetery, one would hope that all participants are included. Perhaps the relationship between Israel and Australia has a bearing on that. Thanks Michael for the info on the numbers of soldiers buried there. It makes the point better than anything else.

Ian

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stevebecker

Mates,

 

I also hate the quote that the town had to be captured because of the water. The Ottomans had blown almost all the wells leaving I think only two.

 

These were not enough to water two Mounted Div's and today the 1 Nov saw many units sent back to water at other water holes set up before the battle.

 

The rain the day before saved other units where the wadis had some water still.

 

The advance tomorrow into the hills, only two LH bdes and the 7 Mounted Bde were ready, while the British Infantry didn't need to water in Beersheba. The other Mounted Bdes arrived over the next week as they rotated into the fighting in the Hills.

 

The ottomans were still entrenched in the hills and fought hard over the next week until we pushed through Sheria out flanking them, then the whole front scattered.

 

As the that Charge, we can say many things but, if they waited an hour then Beersheba would have fell with out a fight, as the Ottoman rear guard was withdrawing when they were charged, most of the prisoners were units retiring and supply and admin units still getting out.

 

How much did the charge effect the Ottoman 3rd Corps?

 

Well not much, as the Corps was still intact, and only the scattered personal were captured, as the main fighting units (27th Div) were still in one piece, even if they suffered a number of losses fighting the British XX Corps.

 

Only part of the 81st Regt on Tel el Saba were lost either on the hill or when cut off during there retreat. and the rear guard of the 2nd Regt who were over run by the 4 LH Bde, were effected by the Mounted units fighting.

 

And odds and sods from the Corps Admin tails and others from withdrawing units.

 

The 3rd Cav Div was still entacted and the arriving 19th Div and Depot Regt made up any losses here.

 

S.B

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aussiesoldier

Ian,

 

There are references in some books to 4th Brigade training that was carried out in Egypt by Col John Forsyth prior to their departure to Gallipoli with just this type of action in mind. They practice the first line of the squadrons jumping the trenches and riding to the edge of the town before dismounting and fighting back by clearing the support and reserve trenches. The second line of troopers were to dismount just beyond the main line of trenches and immediately began to clear them in a sharp bayonet exchange. The third line were to dismount in front of the main trenches and then supported the second line’s bayonet attack then in progress. Grant's only recorded instruction to his troopers was to  “Use your bayonets as swords. I wish you the best of luck.”

 

The Commanding Officer 12th Light Horse - Lt. Col. Don Cameron recalled - "General Grant sent for the Commanding Officers' of the 12th and 4th Light Horse Regiments and orders were received that they would attack Be’er Sheva and were to move at once. Each regiment was to form up on a squadron frontage in three lines from 300 to 500 yards apart. Two squadrons of the 4th Light Horse Regiment on the right and two squadrons, A & B Squadron of the 12th  Light Horse Regiment on the left. Both Regiments would have one squadron in support with all pack animals and machine guns being sent to the rear."

 

I have read unit histories and other books and can not find the kind of orders and rehearsal that would have seen these troopers carry out this attack other than that it was an established drill. Indeed, the use of bayonets in hand was discussed and authorised earlier.

 

George

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gilly100

Thanks George for your more pleasant enlightenment. I haven't read as deeply on this battle as others but I am aware that at that late point in the day, some of the men would have been quite surprised to be charging into the town. I understand they were mounted infantry and not cavalry and their use of the bayonet. All in all, still quite an audacious attack that appears to have come off with the intended result. Being shot at while charging fast on horseback with only bayonet in hand over a good distance must have been terrifying.

Wouldn't dare to profess how many rifles and mgs they faced, but a gutsy effort might be sufficient to say!

Ian

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Gareth Davies

They were mounted rifles, not mounted infantry, and although the distinction may appear subtle, their mindset at that moment would have been closer to cavalry than to infantry.  

 

The orders for the battle (Force Order No 54 dated 22 Oct 17) include the following direction:  "As soon as the enemy's resistance shows signs of weakening, GOC Desert Mounted Corps will be prepared to act with utmost vigour against his retreating troops".  I accept that the average Tpr may not have been briefed on Allenby's intent but the seed had been sown in Cvhauvel's head (Chauvel had served with Lt Horse, Mtd Inf, and Cavalry) and in Hodgson's head (Hodgson, the British GOC of the Australian Mounted Division, was a 15th Hussar).  

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Auimfo

Yes, sadly it's a case of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story.  Unfortunately that detracts from the fact that it was a damned good effort without any need for any embellishment.  Tell the entire story of all the unit's involved that lead up to the charge, and the final action still stands up for worthy praise. 

 

But, it seems the centenary has brought about a passion in this country for all things 'Light Horse'.  There have been Light Horse remembrance statues popping up here, there and everywhere. 

 

Maybe I'm being a little pedantic, but the costly Light Horse memorial (specifically 5th Light Horse regiment)) in Hervey Bay, Queensland, completed in 2014,  irks me the most. 

 

The project description of this venture read:

"The focal point of an extended and enhanced Hervey Bay Freedom Park Memorial precinct will be a prominent and unique bronze statue of a Queensland Light Horseman on his trusted mount charging the enemy trench lines during the battle of Beersheba, Egypt. This action against Turkish troops took place prior to the landing at Anzac Cove............has initiated a project to expand the facility incorporating a centrepiece of historic relevance to the city and Queensland. 
(n.b. my underlining)

 

In addition, a number of articles about the Freedom Park redevelopment have appeared in the Fraser Coast Chronicle and announced, "the statue is of a member of the 5th Light Horse charging at the battle of Beersheba, in Egypt, during the First World War.” (one such article here: http://www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/news/rsl-gets-50000-govt-funding-boost-bronze-statue/2248300/)

 

1. The 5th Light Horse Regiment was not involved in any charge on Turkish trenches at Beersheba.  Admittedly they were involved in the battle but stationed some kilometres away guarding the Hebron-Beersheba Rd to prevent the arrival of any enemy reinforcements.  It was 5th Light Horseman, Ion Idriess, who wrote the famous description of the charge in his book 'The Desert Column', supposedly viewed from his position a long way away on Tel el Sakaty  (a point of contention itself).
 
2. Beersheba has never been in Egypt. At the time of the battle it was in Palestine and is today in Israel.
 
3. The Battle of Beersheba did not take place prior to the landing at Anzac Cove. Whoever made this claim in the submission needs to seriously revise their knowledge of Australian history. The landing at Anzac Cove took place on 25th April 1915 and the Battle of Beersheba occurred on 31st October 1917 (2.5 years later).
 
4. I am not sure why the depiction of a Light Horseman jumping the trenches at Beersheba is of specific historic relevance to the city of Hervey Bay? It is agreed that many local Queenslanders served with distinction in the ranks of the Light Horse but no Queensland regiment was actually involved in this charge and more specifically no light horseman from Hervey Bay that I am aware of.
 
It is disappointing that such an imposing statue is to be so badly mis-labelled. It is totally disrespectful to Queensland Light Horseman who performed enough of their own feats of bravery in the Middle East to not be recognised for one of those actions without having to be incorrectly transplanted into a charge that they were not a part of.
 
Cheers,
Tim L.

 

Edited by Auimfo

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Guest
On 10/29/2017 at 11:49, Gareth Davies said:

If this sort of nonsense is being peddled by PhD qualified historians the what hope is there?

 

 

It has been happening for the last three years. The quality of reporting the Great War centenaries by the media and by some 'historians' has been pretty poor for the most part. Where there have been huge opportunities to put the record straight there are numerous examples of the opposite happening. Our knowledge and understanding is going into reverse in some quarters.

 

The example that you cite is simply more of the same nonsense with some added nationalistic bias thrown in for good measure. I doubt very much that the origins of the four Englishmen who were killed that day while serving with the ANZAC troops were mentioned or indeed the Danish man ;  Sgt Ejgie De Neergaard 12th ALH.  I doubt there were any Danish flags flying. That would have been a far more interesting story... 

 

Incidentally 34 British Infantry Regiments and 32 Yeomanry Regiment were awarded the Battle Honour 'Gaza'. None of their historians felt it necessary to claim their victories as anything other than combined operations with the ANZACs. 

Edited by Guest

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Gareth Davies

Was there a 'Beersheba' Battle Honour?

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