On ANZAC day, it is worthwhile to look at some of the ties of friendship and support between Israel and Australia. Last year, we focused on the Zion Mule Corps here and it is worth another look.
The Charge of Beersheba is another important link between the 2 countries. The sunset charge by 800 Anzacs mounted on horses defeated 400 Turks, and captured Beersheba, which led to the liberation of Jerusalem and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It was the last mounted horse charge in the history of warfare (see the image of the reenactment)
Richard Pratt established the “Park of the Australian Soldier” in Beersheba to commemorate this historic moment. As described in an article in the Australian Jewish News here, “Jeanne Pratt joined around 400 people from the Australian and Israeli military, diplomatic and Jewish communities at a ceremony on October 31 (2009) that commemorated the Australian Light Horse charge at Be’er Sheva. The ceremony took place at the Park of the Australian Soldier in Be’er Sheva in front of a monument to the Australian Light Horse regiment and also honoured the memory of businessman and philanthropist Richard Pratt, who died in April this year. On October 31, 1917, the Australian Light Horse regiment charged the wells of Be’er Sheva, repelling Turkish forces and opening the route to the British arrival in Jerusalem and its victory in the World War I Middle Eastern campaign.”
Australian politician, Joe Hockey, has a special interest in Beersheba. His grandfather, Joseph Hocadonian, was deputy clerk of Beersheba after the war. And one of Joe Hockey’s predecessors in his seat of North Sydney was a commander of a division of the Light Horse at Beersheba.
Two books have been recently published on the subject. Paul Daley, as mentioned here was the author of Beersheba while Roland Perry, previous author of an excellent book on Sir John Monash, wrote The Australian Light Horse
Kelvin Crombie is an Australian historian who specialises in tours related to the ANZACS in Israel.
The pro-British NILI Spy Ring, under the leadership of Aaron Aarononsohn supplied valuable information to General Allenby which helped in the success of the Beersheba charge and other battles.