On October 31, 1917, the men of the 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse Regiments mounted their horses, fixed their bayonets and charged the Turkish fortifications at the strategically important town of Beersheba, in Ottoman Palestine.
The fighting that ensued, at the cost of 31 Australian lives, ended in a stunning victory and marked the last successful cavalry charge in history. More significantly, it was a crucial blow that enabled the Light Horse and other allied units to push on and capture Jerusalem and Damascus, beginning the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
As the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba approaches, Australian historian Jonathan King’s new documentary argues that it’s this Australian-led victory, rather than the “British-led failure” at Gallipoli that should form “the cornerstone of Australian identity”.
Leaving aside the question of whether Australian identity should be based on a military action, the documentary is compelling viewing as veterans of the Light Horse campaign in Palestine tell their stories in interviews King conducted in the 1970s and 1990s.
Read the article by Brad Newsome in the Brisbane Times.