Remembering the Charge of Beersheba 100 Years Later

15-Dec-2016

Remembering the Charge of Beersheba 100 Years Later – 31 October 2017

RSL members who are interested in travelling to Israel to attend the commemoration of the Battle of Beersheba in October 2017 are advised that a limited number of tickets will be available for official events, including a recreation of the famous Charge by the Light Horse. The day will conclude with an event at the magnificent Park of the Australian Soldier, established by the Pratt Foundation in 2008. Both this event and the morning Cemetery ceremony will require attendance passes being allocated by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Numbers will be limited and registration will open in early 2017.

The Israel Travel Centre will host a commemorative tour to Beersheba that incorporates these events, activities and commemorations. The Israel Travel Centre will be coordinating access to ticketed events on behalf of tour participants. For tour details, visit www.beersheba2017.com or email beersheba2017@gmail.com.

The City of Beersheba is working with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and other historical associations to put on a number of commemorative activities on the 100 year anniversary of the Charge on 31 October 2017.

The day will begin with a Beersheba street parade, followed shortly after by a moving service at the Beersheba Commonwealth Cemetery hosted by the Australian Ambassador and various dignitaries. 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, mateship, loyalty and duty.

A highlight of the day will be the opening ceremony of the new ANZAC Museum in Beersheba. This museum will be dedicated to the history of the Battle of Beersheba, and is currently being built by the Beersheba Municipality in cooperation with the Australian Government, the Australian Embassy in Israel and the Pratt Foundation.

Following the Museum opening will be a late-morning Turkish memorial ceremony, as well as the Turkish well and bridge opening. This will be followed in the afternoon with a ceremony in Tel-Sheva hosted by the New Zealand Embassy that will overview the main battlefield sites in the area.

In mid-afternoon there will be an exciting re-enactment of the Charge by the Australian Light Horse Association and the WWI Heritage Society. This exciting experience will see a large contingent in full WWI battle attire re-enact the Charge of Beersheba that took place 100 years ago to the day.

In October 1917 the outcome of World War I 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 south-east 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 Beersheba was complete by nightfall, and the precious wells of the town were secured. It was the success and desperate bravery 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.


Recreation of the Charge of Beersheba


Park of the Australian Soldier

The City of Beersheba in conjunction with the Pratt Foundation are funding the renovation and restoration of an ancient well in Beersheba. This area will include a beautiful new park and walkways. The following images are a sneak preview of an artist's impression of the works currently in progress and to be ready in time for the 100 year anniversary of the Charge on Beersheba: