Of all the Anzac centenary commemorations that have been taking place in the last three years, it’s the legends of our Light Horsemen and their bravery that has captured western Queensland’s hearts the most.
One of those feats, one of the very bravest, when the 4th and 12th Light Horse regiments charged the Turkish-held wells at Beersheba during the Palestinian campaign, is so highly regarded in the bush that a commemorative ride is being undertaken in western Queensland this week.
Hosted by the Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Troop and the 5th Light Horse Winton troop, 84 riders took to the streets of Barcaldine on Tuesday morning for the start of an event titled In Pursuit of Beersheba that will conclude at Bladensburg National Park outside Winton on Thursday with a re-enactment of the charge.
It includes six riders from Canterbury in New Zealand’s South Island, members of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles charitable trust, which raises money for post traumatic stress disorder and veteran care.
One of the troop, Jeanette Rock, is the granddaughter of Patrick Rock, who fought at Beersheba 100 years ago.
All said they were very excited to be part of something so inspirational.
Barcaldine Regional Council mayor, Rob Chandler said his council was also honoured to be part of the special event.
“How brave were they,” he said. “There was no turning back.”
The charge on October 31, 1917, was the culmination of the Battle of Beersheba, when the Desert Mounted Corps, under the command of Australia’s Lieutenant-General, Harry Chauvel was tasked with taking the city and its wells.
Its capture was a major strategic victory that helped end more than 400 years of Turkish rule in Palestine.
Lieutenant Blake Sheriff, of the 2nd/14th Light Horse regiment, said the legend, in which speed was essential to capture the wells before the enemy had time to destroy them, was not dimmed by memory.
Many of the young men fighting in the desert campaign enlisted from western Queensland, and the commemorative troop is marking that with similar activities in Ilfracombe, Longreach and Winton.