Not Just Halloween

Published: 31 October 2012

Today is Halloween ...

Battle of Beersheeba (3rd Battle of Gaza) 31 October 1916

But ninety-five years ago today in 1917, while two British infantry divisions from Chetwode’s XX Corps attacked the strong Ottoman defences dug in around the south-west of Beersheba in Gaza, two regiments of the Australian Light Horse Brigade from Chauvel’s Desert Mounted Corps charged from the East across more than three miles of open terrain in the face of artillery, machine gun and small arms fire to overrun the remaining Turkish trenches and, crucially, to capture the vital surviving water wells.

Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby
Field Marshal Edmund Henry
Hynman Allenby

The action provided the climax for the film The Lighthorsemen. It is said to have been the last successful offensive cavalry charge in history and was part of the opening engagement of the broader action which became known as the Third Battle of Gaza that enabled Allenby finally to dislodged the Turks and Germans from the region and, on 11th December 1917, take Jerusalem for the British, Dominion and Commonwealth Forces.

Technically speaking, the Light Horse Regiments were mounted infantry, not cavalry, but that’s probably a split hair too far.