A century after the famous charge of the Australian Light Horse on Beersheba an Eaglehawk man says he was deeply moved as he took part in a reenactment.
Geoffrey Graham has just arrived home from Israel, where he was part of commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the famous cavalry charge.
Several of his ancestors took part in the original action, when about 800 Australians from the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments successfully charged Ottoman lines during the Battle of Beersheba.
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 as 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.”
More than 1,350 Australians lost their lives in the Middle East campaigns of the First World War, with 31 killed during the charge on Beersheba and 36 wounded.
Mr Graham spoke to the Bendigo Advertiser ahead of performing his one-man show Voices of War, which would take place during East Loddon P-12 College’s Remembrance Day tribute.
For Mr Graham, last week’s reenactment was a “fairly emotional” experience.
“I wore my father’s World War Two military leggings and dog tags. He did not serve in World War One, though a few of my ancestors did,” he said.
“It was a strange feeling knowing that we were riding through areas they would have been.”
It was also emotional for many of the locals who watched on. Mr Graham said some of the older men cried when they witnessed the riders and he saw many children waving Israeli flags.
“From my point of view, as someone who has never been to Israel, the visit made me think about how lucky we are to have peace here in Australia,” he said.
“Even as we were doing the reenactment we could hear what sounded like bombs going off in nearby Gaza. Security around the event was quite intense.”
Mr Graham’s show Voices of War was inspired by letters to and from Anzacs and debuted in 2016.