Remembering the Light Horse

October 28, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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The Israeli Ambassador, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, has attended a Service at Holsworthy in Commemoration of the AIF Light Horse Charge on Beersheba.




In his address at the army camp in South-West Sydney the Ambassador referred to the very close bond between Australia and Israel/Australians and Israelis, initially forged with the Light Horsemen of the 1st AIF in WW1, then during the 2nd AIF’s Middle East campaign and highlighted Australian Foreign Minister Dr Evatt’s key role in gaining the UN’s 1947 resolution to establish the State of Israel.

Gloria Allen, Ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel and Peter Allen

Gloria Allen, Ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel and Peter Allen

Approximately 50 Jews served in the various ALH regiments, including one of four Browne brothers Saddler Sgt Sylvester Browne who also claimed to be the first Jewish soldier of the imperial forces to enter the ancient Land of Israel.

About 4 Jews participated in the charge, including Major Eric Montague Hyman, who  led the 12th LH Regiment and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order, having been originally nominated for a VC, [see attached pics] thus:

‘This officer is recommended for conspicuous gallantry and dash in action. He led his squadron at full gallop against a Turkish redoubt, which was strongly manned with enemy machine guns and rifles. The enemy opened up with a very heavy fire but the charge was so vigorous and skilled that the enemy was overrun and his fire silenced in a few minutes, thus enabling the regiment to carry on the assault and complete the capture of Beersheba.’

The Australian Light Horse were the first to ride into Jerusalem, being the honour guard to the British General Allenby at the Tower of David. This was the first foreign army in the history of Israel to take Jerusalem only to give it back, giving freedom to the Jewish people and not taking the city for themselves.

More from Ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel: “It is all too easy for us to look upon the Great War as a distant and dusty calamity, far removed from our present way of living and our modern world view. This is why I am thankful for commemorations such as this, as it gives us a moment to pause in reflection and draw ourselves back to the events of the past that were so instrumental in the shaping of our modern world. ”

“Beersheba is particularly important to those in the Negev region where the fighting occurred. In 2007, upon the 90th anniversary of the battle, a reenactment was staged in Negev, with fifty Australian horsemen in full uniform. The horsemen rode through the streets of old Beersheba where the original lighthorse paraded after they finally took the town from the Central Powers. Importantly on that day many schools in the area brought their students to witness the reenactment and the parade. As the students watched the reenactment and parade, they stood waving Australian flags. It is for the young that such commemorations are so critical as these events ensure that the memory of national sacrifice, like that given by the lighthorse charge at Beersheba, might live anew in the minds of our next generation.”

“In breaking through the German-Ottoman line, the Lighthorse broke the back of the Central Powers in the Middle East. Their victory made way for Britain’s Balfour Declaration, in which Britain resolved with the Zionist Federation that after the Central Powers were shaken from the holy land that a homeland for the Jewish people would be established in the British protectorate there– this protectorate would be a precursor to the modern State of Israel.”

“The Great War profoundly shaped our world. It drove into the dust the archaic doctrine that ‘might is right’; that nations might advance themselves by selfish aggression.”

“In their efforts to recreate a world that would never again fight such a horrible war, those at the Paris Peace Conference, and in the League of Nations, tried to redraw the map of Europe based on the simple ideas that just nations should be formed by the will of the people, for the prosperity of the people and that all nations are equal in their sovereignty.”

“For example, earlier this week I had the pleasure of signing a new agreement with the Australian Government that created a Work and Holiday Arrangement between our two nations. This new Arrangement will make it easier for our young travelers and workers to move between our countries. It is my hope that through the experiences of these young travelers the people of Israel and the people of Australia will be brought closer together. After all, true friendship between nations is forged by the interaction of their people, more so than the interaction of their leaders.”

“That the State of Israel exists, therefore, is a triumph for all nations who love democracy and seek peaceful diplomacy. Australia’s hand in this triumph is not insubstantial. For without the sacrifice of soldiers like those at Beersheba and their comrades in World War Two and without the work of Australian diplomats like Doc Evatt, Israel’s statehood may not have transpired in the way it did. For this reason, all Australians will always be welcome in Israel. We share a thread of kinship that runs through all liberal-democracies, and while we have our differences, they are far outweighed by our commonalities.”

“You are our allies and our friends, and the victory that the Australian Lighthorse won that day, is a victory as much for Israel and the Jewish people as it is for Australia. ”




One Response to “Remembering the Light Horse”
  1. Russell Stern says:

    1/697 New South Head Road
    Rose Bay 2029
    Can anyone name the 50 Australian Jews who served in the Light Horse in Sinai and Palestine in WW1? In checking the names recorded by Harold Boas in 1923, I have had to discount one-third of the names because they were not halachicly Jewish.

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