The Road to Beersheba is Open

Barry RodgersArticles, Barry Rodgers

Australian Light Horse Charge Reenactment at Beersheba
Photo of a past re-enactment of the Australian Light Horse Charge­—Courtesy of ALHA

The Australian Light Horse Association is conducting its biggest ever overseas “In the steps of the Light Horse” tour this year to mark the centenary of the charge on Beersheba. 

One of the highlights will be one hundred riders, riding through the Negev in WW1 uniform following the same route as their forebears did, one hundred years ago.  Accompanying the riders are close to eighty non riders. Many of us will also be visiting Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. Kelvin Crombie will be our resident historian.

Preparations, lobbying and prayer are paying off, there are still a few potholes to fill on the road but all major obstacles are cleared.  Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, High ranking military officers from all countries, Governor Generals etc. are expected to be present.  Although security will be high for obvious reasons, nevertheless this time presents a profound opportunity for goodwill between our Nations. There is a growing sense that this year’s centennial celebrations is much more than celebrating a military victory at Beersheba 100 years ago.

…this year’s centennial celebrations is much more than celebrating a military victory

At Semakh (Tzemach) railway station we will be partnering with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to put on a ceremony that will recognise the importance of this battle. This was a last ditch stand by the Germans and Ottomans to thwart the advance of the Allies.  The Australian 11th LHR were coming up to carry out a dawn dismounted attack, but before they assembled for this, they were opened fire on. Quickly assessing the situation Major Costello ordered them to charge, in what was probably the last cavalry charge in WW1 to defeat the enemy.  Here our Aboriginal Troopers were particularly prominent and we will be honouring them at our ceremony in Tzemach this October. We have about twelve Aboriginals travelling with us and a couple are direct descendants of those involved in the action.

At Beersheba we will be doing a parade through the city on horses, led by our military band and in the afternoon a re-enactment of the charge over the same ground as we charged in 1917.  We will be putting on a concert with our band before the charge and Kelvin Crombie and MC Barry Rodgers OAM will address the crowd.  For us this is the crowning moment of our whole trip.