BACKGROUND

On 31 October 1917, the outcome of the First World War was anything but clear. The losses at Gallipoli, setbacks on the Western Front and failures in the First and Second Battles of Gaza were the backdrop to the Battle of Beersheba. And so it was on this day that the ANZAC Light Horse gathered behind a ridge southeast of the city and moved off at a trot. Surprise and speed were their one chance.

Facing sustained enemy fire, the mounted infantry rode under the Turkish guns and cleared the trenches in close combat. Though outnumbered, the audacity of the surprise attack carried them through. The capture of Be’er Sheva was complete by nightfall, and the precious wells of the town were secured. It was the success and desperation of the Charge, by mounted infantry, not cavalry – that earned it an immortal place in Australian history. Importantly, on the same day, the British Government in London approved the Balfour Declaration setting off a chain of events that would eventually lead to the resurrection and re-establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948, after almost 2000 years of Jewish exile. In the cemetery at Beersheba, 1241 Commonwealth soldiers are buried. Men who sacrificed their lives in service of their country, and expressed values of the highest order: honour, courage, loyalty and duty.

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THE LIGHT HORSE COMMEMORATION
For those with special interest in the various special commemorative events on Day 9 it is necessary to book a place. Priority will be given to relatives of Light Horsemen. Large numbers of visitors and dignitaries are expected to be at Beersheba on the day with the need to limit the places. Pre-registration is being coordinated by the Israel Travel Centre of behalf of registered tour participants. Passes are allocated on a first-serve basis. Book now to avoid disappointment.

THE LIGHT HORSE SONG
Click here to hear the new Light Horse song with some excellent video – from Australian songwriter Neil Camm.