The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba has been cause for great patriotic celebration among the Australian political elite and the mainstream media.

The Battle, a little-remembered incident in the Middle Eastern theatre of the First World War, featured the Australian Light Horse Brigade in one of its first victories and last charges. Beersheba, a Palestinian and Bedouin town in what is now Israel, was a strategically important site held by the Turks.

The mythology is that the plucky Australian Light Horse Brigade (with some British and Scottish cavalry in tow), thirsty and down on its luck, braved the desert, charged into Beersheba, took the wily Turks by surprise and conquered the town. This laid the basis for the Allies to take Jerusalem, the jewel in the crown of the region.

The Battle of Beersheba is presented as a seminal moment in Australian military history. While Gallipoli is iconic, of bravery in the face of defeat, Beersheba is a success story.

For the Australian ruling class, such narratives are important. They play a key role in constructing an Australian identity and in building support for the military and wars past and present.

 

Read the full article by Vashti Kenway at Red Flag.

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