The battle of Beersheba took place on 31 October 1917 as part of the wider British offensive collectively known as the third Battle of Gaza. The final phase of this all day battle was the famous mounted charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade. Commencing at dusk, members of the brigade stormed through the Turkish defences and seized the strategic town of Beersheba. The capture of Beersheba enabled British Empire forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza on 7 November and advance into Palestine.
100th anniversary of the great cavalry charge - Australia's 4th Light Horse Brigade in the taking of Beersheba
Forget Halloween - let's help Australian children understand the character of the people who made our country great.
This piece of Australian history helped to change the world. I hope and pray that we may once more live up to their example.
Here's the 4th Light Horse Brigade's story - courtesy of our Australian War Memorial.
The charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba
30 October 2007 by Robyn Van-Dyk
The mounted troops spent the summer of 1917 after the second battle of Gaza in constant reconnaissance and in preparation for the offensive to come. The Turkish forces held the line from Gaza near the coast to Beersheba, about 46 kilometres to its south-east. The Allied forces held the line of the Wadi Ghuzzer from its mouth to El Gamly on the East. The positions were not continuous trench lines but rather a succession of strong posts. Both sides kept their strength in front of the city of Gaza.
The newly arrived British commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Sir Edmund Allenby used plans prepared by Lieutenant General Sir Phillip Chetwode. The plan was to attack Beersheba by using mounted troops from the east whilst the infantry attacked Beersheba from the south west. The preparation also involved persuading the Turkish forces that the offensive would again be against Gaza. Chetwode was in command the 20th Corps and the Desert Mounted Corps was under Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel.
The greatest problem for Chauvel was to find sufficient water in the Beersheba area for his mounted troops. Information from reconnaissance revealed that there was none other than at Esani which was too far to the west to be of any use for a surprise attack. Chauvel, through studying the records of the Palestine Exploration Fund and after questioning local Arabs, knew that the larger ancient towns in the area to the south and south-west of Beersheba must have had existing water supplies. At Asluj the old wells were found and a fortnight’s work put them into working order. This made the attack on Beersheba a feasible operation.
Various deceptions were employed to keep the enemy thinking the attack was going to be at Gaza including keeping the Infantry strength there until the last minute. Beersheba’s defences were held by 1,000 Turkish riflemen, nine machine guns and two aircraft. The position was extended through a series of trenches and redoubts placed on commanding positions with good zones of fire; but on the east and south the trenches were not protected by barbed wire. The Turkish forces were relying on the forbidding open terrain as well as the absence of water to defend Beersheba. Calculating that the attack was most likely to be upon Gaza they were also not prepared for a force such as Allenby’s which was moving on 30 October.
Chauvel’s orders when he left Asluj early on the evening of the 30 October were for Major General Chaytor's ANZAC Mounted Division to close the Beersheba Road at Sakati (almost 10 kilometres north-east of the town) in order to prevent Turkish reinforcements from coming in and also to cut-off escape from the town. Once the road was secured, he was to storm Beersheba using Major General Hodgson's Australian Mounted Division. Allenby had insisted that Beersheba must be captured on the first day of operations. On the night of 30 October about 40,000 allied troops moved towards Beersheba, including most of Chetwode's 20th Corps and Chauvel's the Desert Mounted Corps, in a night march of over 40 kilometres.
Trekking since October 28 via Esani members of the 12th Light Horse Regiment arrived at Asluj on 30 October. Corporal Harold Gleeson mentions in his diary that he obtained no water at Asluj and at 6pm on 30 October recorded moving on towards Beersheba, marching all night on a “very weary and dusty ride of 30 miles.” Private Hunter in his diary wrote “The dust was terrible. One could not see beyond his horses head. The horses braved the journey which was about 36 miles. Walked at my horses head for about 10 miles of flat country giving him a rest.” The horses were carrying heavy packs on average of about 120 kilograms and their riders knew that there was no water available until Beersheba fell into their hands. Private Keddie: “On this stunt we have been told we would have to live on what rations we had for a few days.”
On the morning of 31 October, Chetwode's three British divisions attacked the Turkish positions around Beersheba from the west and south supported by a sustained artillery bombardment of over 100 guns. By 1 pm they had driven the Turks from their defences to the west and south west of Beersheba, but the wells of the town were still in Turkish hands. The 4th Light Horse Brigade waited, scattered over a wide area as a precaution against bombing, to the south-east of the town. Private Hunter: “The Turks immediately started shelling us with heavies. Good cover and tact on our part prevented casualties”. Their horses were unsaddled, watered and fed. William Grant was the Brigade’s new commander following Brigadier General Meredith, who had been invalided home to Australia.
The wells of Beersheba were vital for the welfare of the Desert Mounted Corps’ horses, many of whom had been without water for several days. Enemy resistance at Tel El Saba, three kilometres to the east of the town, had been stronger than expected and it took a stiff day of fighting for Chaytor’s force to capture this strong redoubt protecting Beersheba's eastern flank. The fall of Tel El Saba at 3:15 pm meant that the 1st and 3rd Light Horse Brigades were free to attack Beersheba from the East.
At 3:30 pm there was only a few hours of day light remaining and orders were issued for the final phase of the struggle, the occupation of Beersheba. Chauvel decided to put Grant’s 4th Light Horse Brigade straight at the remaining trenches, from the south-east. Chauvel knew that he must take the town before dark in order to secure the wells for Allenby's large force. Private Keddie recorded: “We began to talk among ourselves saying Beersheba will be taken and us not doing anything when about 5 o’clock our major came and said that Beersheba had not been captured but we were going in.” Chauvel: “owing to the constant attacks from aeroplanes, which had devoted a good deal of attention to my own headquarters, it took some time to assemble them and push them off”. General Grant gave the order personally to the 12th Light Horse Regiment: “men you’re fighting for water. There’s no water between this side of Beersheba and Esani. Use your bayonets as swords. I wish you the best of luck”. The Light Horse were equipped with rifles and held their bayonets as swords, which would have been more suited to a cavalry style charge. Fortuitously their bayonet tips had been sharpened on the orders of Major General Hodgson, on 26 October.
Grant made the decision to order his light horsemen to charge cavalry-style, when they would normally have ridden close to an objective then dismounted to fight. Trooper Edward Dengate: “we got mounted, cantered about a quarter of a mile up a bit of a rise lined up along the brow of a hill paused a moment, and then went atem, the ground was none too smooth, which caused our line to get twisted a bit . . . Captain Davies let out a yell at the top of his voice . . . that started them all we spurred our horses . . . the bullets got thicker…three or four horses came down, others with no riders on kept going, the saddles splashed with blood, here and there a man running toward a dead horse for cover, the Turk’s trenches were about fifty yards on my right, I could see the Turk’s heads over the edge of the trenches squinting along their rifles, a lot of the fellows dismounted at that point thinking we were to take the trenches, but most of us kept straight on, where I was there was a clear track with trenches on the right and a redoubt on the left, some of the chaps jumped clear over the trenches in places, some fell into them, although about 150 men got through and raced for the town, they went up the street yelling like madmen.” Captain Robey was at their head.
Captain Jack Davies followed Robey’s men towards the town and shouted when three miles away: “Come on boys Beersheba first stop”. Major Fetherstonhaugh’s horse fell shot and was himself shot through the leg. The major put his horse out of its misery then got down behind his dead horse and fired his revolver until he ran out of ammunition. Fetherstonhaugh wrote to Davies congratulating him. In the letter he also mentioned his own injury: “I got a bullet through both thighs, it made a clean hole through the left but opened out a bit and made a large gash through the back of the right which will take a little while to fix up”.
While the 4th Light Horse Regiment dismounted at the trenches and tackled their objective on foot many in the 12th Light Horse Regiment were able to get straight through and take the town, Keddie: “we were all at the gallop yelling like mad some had bayonets in their hand others their rifle then it was a full stretch gallop at the trenches . . . the last 200 yards or so was good going and those horses put on pace and next were jumping the trenches with the Turks underneath . . . when over the trenches we went straight for the town.”
Sergeant Charles Doherty wrote that the horsemen who cleared all the trenches came up to an open plane which “was succeeded by small wadies and perpendicular gullies, surrounding which scores of sniper’s nests or dugouts each were holding seven or eight men. After progressing another quarter of a mile, we turned to the right at an angle of 45 degrees to converge on Beersheba. The enemy’s fire now came from the direction of the town and a large railway viaduct to the north. The limited number of entrances to the city temporarily checked us but those in front went straight up and through the narrow streets. Falling beams from fired buildings, exploding magazines and arsenals and various hidden snipers were unable to check our race through the two available streets that were wide enough for 2 to ride abreast.” Private Keddie had a near miss: “I felt a bullet go past my ear and thought if that bullet had been a few more inches to one side” as did Trooper Dengate: “I suppose you heard about the capture of Beersheba by the 4th Brigade, well I was right in it, and came through safe, and with my skin intact, I got a bullet through the leg of my breeches, just above the knee, grazed my leg but didn’t make it bleed.”
The success of the charge was in the shock value and sheer speed in which they took the town before it could be destroyed by a retreating Turkish force. Harry Langtip described Beersheba: “The town is small but has some very nice buildings with tiled roofs. The water scheme is grand. We got into the army stores and helped ourselves to grain for the horses & got bivy sheets and peg posts. We got all the Turkish stores, there was everything from a telephone to a pack saddle. We got lots of horses and bullocks. There was rifles and gear lying everywhere. The Turks left bombs and if you kicked one up it went. One Tommie got both his eyes blown out by a bottle. He just kicked it out of the way and it must have been full of explosives.”
Sergeant Charles Doherty: “The first party sent across to the large cement troughs had just finished when from the east came an unexpected fusillade of bullets. Through this assault made it appear that we had been cleverly ambushed, we retained control over the prisoners and secured what cover there was until further support arrived. Between 8 & 9:30 pm the 11LHR arrived and the 4th MG Squadron came in. Then a complete chain of outposts was established while the main body of prisoners, together with many scattered lots from the various redoubts were taken back to Brigade HQ.”
31 light horsemen were killed in the charge and 36 were wounded. Some originals from the Brigade who had enlisted in 1914 such as Edward Cleaver and Albert “Tibbie” Cotter, the famous Australian cricketer, were killed. The next morning Private Keddie rode over the ground to see if any of the horses could be found roaming but he recorded only seeing dead carcases. Keddie: “We were sent looking for the horses whose riders were killed so we made for the other side of the town where several other light horse regiments were . . . met some friends in the first light horse and yarned for a while they asked me what it was like in the charge gave them a full account”. At least 70 horses died. The Turkish defenders suffered many casualties and between 700 and 1,000 troops were captured.
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the famous mounted charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade into Beersheba.
OUT! Barnaby JOYCE, Fiona NASH, Malcolm ROBERTS, Scott LUDLAM, Larissa WATERS - Disqualified from Parliament
Here's The Australian's report.
The Turnbull government has been plunged into turmoil and will head to a snap by-election after the High Court ruled Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and four other MPs caught in the dual citizenship saga were disqualified from federal parliament.
The ejection of the Nationals leader means the government will lose its one-seat majority in the House of Representatives and likely embolden Labor, which has threatened to cause chaos and confusion if Mr Joyce’s election is deemed invalid.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon and former Nationals cabinet minister Matthew Canavan have been found eligible to sit in parliament.
Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash, One Nation’s Malcom Roberts and former Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam have also been disqualified.
The parliament referred the elections of the “citizenship seven” to the High Court after questions emerged about their dual nationality.
Under section 44 of the Constitution, any person who is “a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power” is incapable of being chosen or of sitting as an MP.
Mr Ludlam triggered the dual citizenship fiasco after being told in July he was a New Zealander at the time of last year’s election.
The revelation prompted other parliamentarians, who faced weeks of questioning by the media, to make inquiries about their own status, leading to the referral of seven MPs.
The government argued Mr Joyce, Senators Nash, Canavan and Xenophon and Ms Waters should not be disqualified because they were Australian-born and unknowingly gained citizenship by descent.
In the case of Ms Waters, who was born in Canada, the government said she effectively became Australian-born when her birth was registered with Australian authorities.
But the government said Senator Roberts and Mr Ludlam should be found ineligible because they had some knowledge of their dual citizenship, as they were born overseas and migrated to Australia.
Only those who “voluntarily obtained or retained” their foreign citizenship should have their elections ruled invalid, the Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue argued.
Tony Windsor, represented by former solicitor-general Justin Gleeson, argued that allowing Mr Joyce to keep his seat would result in “radical instability” and he should be disqualified for being a Kiwi when he nominated for the 2016 election.
The AWU WA Branch paid for Bruce Wilson's rented love-shack in inner-city Melbourne - where'd the bond go Bruce?
This episode doesn't involve a great deal of money - but it does give us an insight into Bruce Morton Wilson and the way he operated.
On Monday 29 June 1992 Bruce Wilson was appointed acting Victoria Branch Secretary.
On Friday 3 July he was back in Perth to get Blewitt installed as acting secretary in WA so Ralph could authorise Bruce's expenses under the Old Mates' Act. Not like it would have been logical for the Victoria Branch to meet the costs of their new acting boss!
Air travel plus the costs of a security system at home for the missus! Not a bad deal Bruce.
Wilson didn't waste any time taking the branch up on its offer to pay for his digs.
On 15 July 1992 Wilson did the paperwork to lease an apartment in Carlton. Note the Bond payment of $932.
On 15 July 1992 Bruce was set!
The AWU WA Branch had fronted the money for the bond - and it paid all the rental payments for his time in the inner-city pad.
So considering the deal he'd been given, how do you reckon Wilson showed his gratitude to the hard-working AWU members who'd stumped up the dough?
He pocketed the bond. Their money. Bastard.
Minutes of the Victorian Branch AWU Executive meeting that appointed Bruce Wilson - with Bill Ludwig's "help"
On 29 June, 1992 - just five days after the AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc was incorporated - Bruce Wilson was installed as acting state secretary of the Victorian Branch of the AWU.
Just prior to that meeting a standard branch executive meeting took place.
The minutes show that AWU National President and Bruce Wilson supporter Bill Ludwig had slipped down from Queensland to keep an eye on proceedings. No doubt to make sure the branch's business was conducted with the members' interests first and foremost.
Bruce apparently knew from 11 June 1992 (at the latest) that he was going to Melbourne - and that he'd need a local slush fund or two.
On 11 June 1992 the Re-Election fund was opened with a deposit of $15,000 and an address at the Clifton Hill Post Office - just up the road from Julia's Abbotsford digs.
By March 1993 the address had changed.
On 24 October 1994 $3,425 was transferred from this account to the AWU Members Welfare Association after Gillard's renovation payments to the Town Mode boys overdrew the account. Just as well there was plenty of slush to choose from!
Australian Workers’ Union Statement
Comment from Daniel Walton, AWU National Secretary
This is an extraordinary abuse of police resources and taxpayer funds by a desperate government.
From the ABC
AFP carrying out raids at Australian Workers' Union headquarters in Sydney, Melbourne
The Australian Federal Police is currently raiding the Australian Workers' Union offices in Melbourne and Sydney.
The investigation relates to whether donations made to activist group GetUp were authorised under union rules.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has asked GetUp to abide by disclosure laws that would require it to outline what funding it receives and how it is spent.
Groups subjected to such obligations are known as "associated entities" which are defined as a group controlled by one or more political parties, or operating to a significant extent for the benefit of political parties.
In a letter obtained by the ABC, the AEC said there were grounds to suggest GetUp's activities last year could be seen as having benefited Labor and the Greens.
GetUp has denied the claims and insisted it is an independent movement.
More to come.
This extract for the TURC's AWU WRA report describes the settlement and finance of the Kerr Street property.
On 22 March 1993, Bruce Wilson as Ralph Blewitt’s attorney signed a transfer of the Kerr Street property as transferee.
On the same, day, 22 March 1993, Bruce Wilson signed as Ralph Blewitt’s attorney a mortgage of the Kerr Street property in favour of Jonathan Malcolm Rothfield. The amount advanced pursuant to the mortgage was $150,000 for three years. Interest was to be charged at a higher rate of 13.75% per annum and at a lower rate of 9.75% per annum, commencing on 22 March 1993.
Also on 22 March 1993 the Commonwealth Bank sent a fax to Slater & Gordon for the attention of Julia Gillard. The facts (sic) related to a certificate of currency for mortgage insurance.
The Mortgage document lodged at the Land Titles office records that on 17 September 1993 the mortgage was transferred to an entity called "Australian Housing Association Pty Ltd".
Here's the Seal of that entity taken from the discharge of mortgage document lodged with Land Titles Victoria.
The ACN 005 428 231 is recorded with ASIC as last being registered to a Victorian entity called NODCO.
NODCO is the name used by Nicholas O'Donohue lawyers.
And here is the complete mortgage file held by Nicholas O'Donohue lawyers.
Note O'Donohue's records the mortgage as commencing at 22 June 1993 - with 4 persons/couples providing the funds for the mortgage by 22 September 1993.
A safe custody package records the Blewitt mortgage as being introduced on 11 June 1993.
And this schedule records the receipt of interest payments - and the payor from whom the payment was received.
Ralph Blewitt's Home Building Society Account statements appear to show the first two mortgage interest payments from his account by way of personal cheques.
18 June, 1993 - $3,656.25 credit by "DT" (would be obliged if you know what the code means).
25 June, 1993 - $3656.25 debit by "PCHQ" (personal cheque matches other entries for known personal cheques)
15 Sept, 1993 - same amount in by DT
22 Sept, 1993 - same amount paid out by personal cheque
There is no corresponding withdrawal from the AWU Workplace Reform Association funds that match up with the payments into Blewitt's account - although the $50K cash withdrawal on 7 September may be a potential source.
The source of the funds banked into Blewitt's Home Account has not been established.
Here's the Royal Commission.
And this is the statement in which Wilson makes that allegation.
More soon, including analysis of Bruce Wilson's other accounts and some possible sources of the mortgage payments.
On Thursday evening I was a little surprised to hear from my Australian lawyer - calling from Sydney airport with a boarding pass in hand.
We'd been trying to schedule a few days together in preparation for my private prosecution. He'd had a cancellation on Friday which freed him up, so two flights and one land border crossing later we were earnestly in conference.
We have at least another 2 or 3 days work ahead of us. I am not going to telegraph our punches, suffice to say he's a former detective inspector, police prosecutor and now at the bar specialising in criminal law.
These next few days will be quiet on the website - but there has been and will continue to be frenzied activity behind the scenes.
Direct evidence linking GILLARD to WILSON'S corruptly obtained money - cheques, account numbers, handwriting - it's all here
This is a forensic accountant's analysis of transactions on Bruce Wilson's private bank account - over and above salary and rental income.
On 22 March, 1993 Slater and Gordon settled the purchase of a house for Bruce Wilson at 85 Kerr Street Fitzroy, funded in part by $90K+ from the GILLARD/WILSON slush fund.
On 24 March 1993 renovations commenced on Gillard's property at 36 St Philips St Abbotsford. Here's one of her first quotes.
The Trade Union Royal Commission found that Athol James's evidence that Wilson provided the money to pay for Gillard's renovations was wholly truthful.
Gillard has been at pains to distance herself from the AWU-WRA's operations/funding/bank accounts. While Athol recalls Bruce dealing in cash, apparently that idea hadn't come to Bruce and Julia until after their first transaction - which involved this cheque from Bruce to his lover.
Here now is the unequivocal evidence of Wilson funding Gillard.
The financial relationship went way beyond the renovations.
Here are two cheques totalling almost $1,000 from Bruce to Myer in Melbourne.
How can we know these purchases were for Gillard? Her address is written on the back of the cheques.
On 10 September 2014 Gillard gave sworn evidence to the Trade Union Royal Commission, denying she received money from Bruce Wilson for her renovations.
There's plenty more evidence where that came from too. It wasn't just Mr James funded by Bruce.
And I haven't started reporting to you on the destination of many of the cash cheques - nor cheques written directly from Wilson's various slush funds rather than his personal account.
It's much better to confess you know Ms GILLARD. Might save you a bit of time in the slammer.
Every touch leaves its trace.
In June 1995 Bruce Wilson paid GILLARD's builder Con Spyridis $2,180 with a personal cheque we publish today
Here's Wilson's cheque - note the distinctive non-Wilson handwriting, the cheque was written out by Bill Telikostiglou.
Here's the statement showing the cheque was presented on 5 June, 1995 and was met on presentation.
Nine entries above cheque 181 for $2,180 in the statement is a 17 May 1995 deposit of $2,000.00.
The deposit slip is in Wayne Hem's handwriting - and where'd the money come from?
- Telikostiglou's cheque for $2,000
- screen grab from his CBA statement showing where the $2K came from - a $10K deposit 3 days earlier
- details of the $10,000 cheque which came from the phantom AWU employee Ms Debbie Lawn.
Here's what GILLARD told Peter Gordon about paying Spyridis.
an account from Con was put in my letter box last week, so that's the first account that I've had from him. It is an account dated June directed towards me, yeah, I think that's right, directed towards me, dated June and it's got a letter on it, some of which is not decipherable but talks about finishing off the tiles. The account is for $3780. I've paid $2000 of it already and I'm making arrangements to get the $1780 together to pay the rest of it.
Gillard also told the Royal Commission, the parliament, Martin Ferguson in her pre-selection interview, the Australian people and anyone else who'd listen that she'd paid for her own renovations.
Athol James said she did not - and the Trade Union Royal Commission believed him, not her.
Wayne Hem said she did not - he made a deposit of $5,000 into her account and he saw Telikostiglou pay builders on her behalf.
Ralph Blewitt says he paid $7,000 to builders to pay for some of Gillard's renovations.
And now the evidence from Bruce Wilson's cheque book - including our trace on the money right back to a dubious $10,000 cheque which apparently was comprised of funds that originated with the AWU itself (more on that soon).
When will the authorities act to bring GILLARD to heel?
Every touch leaves its trace.
PS - further to our post on Debbie Lawn and Bill Telikostiglou a couple of days ago.
Here's another AWU payroll deposit sheet - note the Telikostiglou/Debbie Lawn line entry!