31 October 2017

The Centenary of the Battle of Beersheba

Today is the centennary of the Battle of Beersheba, fought in Syria during the Great War.  In this action the British Egypt Expeditionary Force, comprised on a range of British and Imperial troops (including Australians and New Zealanders) under the command of General Edmund Allenby advanced along a broad front in an engagement known as the Third Battle of Gaza.  As part of this multi-day action, the remnants of the Turkish Yildrim Army Group fell back upon the town of Beersheba.

The Turks were entrenched in the city, which was favoured by some excellent defensive terrain. The Allied Army isolated and encircled the city, but was engaged with other Turkish forces.  As the only available unit, the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade (comprising the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments) was ordered to take the city and eliminate the nascent threat to the Allied rear.

Having to close open ground (under artillery fire) quickly and with a requirement to finish the action prior to nightfall, the decision was made for the mounted infantry to attack, uncharacteristically, on horseback.  Issued neither sword or sabre for such a task, the Lighthorsemen unfixed their bayonets and used them instead. It was a high risk attack hastily undertaken against a larger defending force.
With speed and momentum, the Lighthorseman were able to advance under the Turk guns and carry the position, taking over 1000 prisoners.

This engagement opened a flanking manoeuvre around the Gazala line, enabling the broader offensive to capture Jerusalem some 6 weeks later.  It is a much celebrated action in Australian Military annals.



  1. Hello old chap,

    You mean this one: http://awargamingodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/waltzing-matilda-second-dance-beersheba.html

    or possibly this one: http://awargamingodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-max=2012-12-19T10:59:00Z&max-results=7&start=245&by-date=false

    the film The Lighthorsemen is one of my favourites!

    All the best,


  2. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

  3. Well remembered Sir and some great photographs that I had not seen before.

  4. I never cease to be amazed at the size and breadth of the AWM collection. Great post mate!

  5. Saw The Light Horsemen ages ago and really enjoyed it!

  6. It was an incredible action. Was it the last Cavalry charge?

    1. No, the brave Poles launched a number of Cavalry charges against the Germans in 1939