By David W. Cameron
Published by Viking/Penguin • RRP $35.00 in paperback • ISBN 9780143782551
Published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that famous charge on 31 October 1917, David Cameron vividly recreates the events of that day in his book The Charge.
Following two unsuccessful attempts to break through the Gaza-Beersheba line in early to mid-1917 by attacking Gaza on the coast, the British Command changed tack and decided on a direct attack on the Turkish left flank at Beersheba, while all the time seeking to convince the enemy that they would again attack the right flank at Gaza.
The drawback with this plan was that Beersheba was 40 kms inland and the only secure water source was in the town itself. The rapid capture of Beersheba and its wells was therefore critical as the conditions for men and horses were appalling, with temperatures frequently reaching over 40°C with no shade.
The battle for Beersheba raged all day with the Allied offensive in danger of collapse until just before dusk the Australian Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel ordered his reserve force of the 4th Australian Light Horse to charge the Turkish lines from the southeast. Brandishing their bayonets, the 400 horsemen swept down from the heights, breaking through the enemy lines and proceeding into the town capturing almost 2,000 Turkish soldiers.
And so ended one of history’s last great cavalry charges.