On Tuesday 31 October 2017, the Australian Defence Force participated in a a joint Australian/New Zealand commemorative service at the Park of the Australian Soldier in Be’er-Sheva, Israel, to honour those who fought in the Battle of Beersheba in 1917.
CAPTION: The Guidons from the 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment, 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers Regiment and the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles Regiment from the Australian Army and New Zealand Defence Forces at the Battle of Beersheba commemorative service in Israel. Photo by Sergeant Janine Fabre.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and New Zealand Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy as well as Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were in attendance.
Prime Minister Turnbull said the anniversary of Beersheba was an opportunity to pause and reflect on the nature of military service and the sacrifices made on our behalf in defence of our nation and values.
“As Australia marks the Century of Service, we also honour the memories of more than 102,000 Australians who have died in defence of our nation and we pay our respects to everyone who has served in our military,” he said.
Australia’s Federation Guard provided a catafalque party as well as flag and wreath orderlies at the commemorations service, while members of the Australian Army Band provided musical accompaniment.
An Australian Army rabbi and Army chaplain presided.
The Battle of Beersheba is renowned as the last great cavalry charge, when the Australian Light Horse attacked enemy lines defending the town of Beersheba, in what is now Israel.
About 800 Australians from the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments were involved in the charge, suffering 31 deaths and 36 wounded.
They captured more than 700 Turkish soldiers.
The capture of Beersheba led to an opening in the Turkish flank that enabled Allied forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza on 7 November and advance further into Palestine.
Australia’s official war historian Charles Bean described the battle thus – “It had been a glorious hour, filled not only with military achievement of a very rare kind, but with memorable deeds by individual officers and men, which serve vividly to demonstrate the spirit which alone made success possible”.