Friday, November 1, 2013

Australian Light Horse annual commemoration in Beer Sheva

Yesterday I found my way through the streets of Beer Sheva  to the Park of the Australian Soldier.
My first time to see the annual commemoration and to see the new park, and both were very impressive.

The e-mail read "The Pratt Foundation and the Municipality of Be’er Sheva invite you to the commemoration of the 96th anniversary of the Battle of Be’er Sheva, marking the fall of the Ottoman controlled city of Be’er Sheva to ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and British troops on 31 October 1917."

After morning tea the many guests took their seats and the ceremony opened with a long blast of a long and curling shofar.
The nice new Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Dave Sharma, gave a good speech about the great importance of the Battle of Beersheva.
BTW, he is Australia's youngest ambassador anywhere in the world.

Military representatives  of Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and the United Nations were there.
Many Zionist youth movements attended, as did classes of high school students.

Dr. Apple, Rabbi Emeritus of Sydney's Great Synagogue, was expected to give a memorial prayer but he spoke instead about the recent attack on five Jews at Bondi beach.

The Australian youth groups joined in singing Advance Australia Fair and Hatikva.

Please enlarge the sign to read the story of the famous battle, history's last great cavalry charge. 

The U.N. men from UNTSO and MFO  were happy to pose for anyone with a camera.
Israelis are not used to seeing fancy dress uniforms and medals.

Everyone then went across town to the Beersheba War Cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission says their cemetery contains 1,241 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 67 of them unidentified.

In the Light Horse charge on Beersheva, 31 Australians were killed.
At least 70 horses were also killed in the audacious battle. 

 Again there was the laying of wreaths.

I asked for a poppy and the digger asked  to put it by a soldier's grave.

I found a Jewish grave.
There are many more at the Jerusalem War Cemetery on Mt. Scopus.

 The morning's ceremonies concluded a block away, at Atatürk Plaza, at the obelisk.
Carved in its stone:


The distinguished representative of Turkey spoke (in English) about the martyrs who died defending the then-Ottoman town of Beer Sheva.
He was proud to see the old Turkish train station behind him, part of the famous Hijaz Railway,  being carefully restored as he spoke.

We stood for the Turkish and the Israeli national anthems. 

Wreaths were placed at the foot of the tall obelisk, which was built in 2002.

With the strained Israel-Turkey  relations in the last few years, it was very special to see the two flags flying side by side.

Let's hope Atatürk's motto, "Peace at home, peace in the world," will someday be true for all countries in the Middle East. 
For more see Australian blogger-teacher Hels' post


  1. Fascinating history; it's a part of the war that tends to get overlooked by many who would concentrate on the European theatre.

    I've had the First World War on my mind in the last few days...

  2. I hope my son was at the Beersheba ceremony, representing the family. He takes WW1 history very seriously.

    I added a link from your excellent photos to my post on the Australian and New Zealand light horsemen in Beersheba, 1917. Many thanks

  3. Great and moving reportage. Sadly Ataturk is not popular anymore in his land...

  4. The Aussie Light Horse were great soldiers, very tough and they made a point of NEVER leaving a wounded man behind. The Turks were supposed to be merely conscripts who would run away, how wrong that was!
    Lovely tribute.

  5. Great post Dina. I'm constantly learning new things by reading your blog. Moving pictures.

  6. Dina, thanks for another history lesson of this area.

  7. Great coverage of the event, Dina!

  8. We learned about Ataturk when we were in Turkey and were amazed at all he accomplished. We are certainly hoping that peace can flow through your countries easily some day.

  9. My husbands great uncle was an Australian who fought all through Palestine and was at Beersheba. This was very interesting to read for both of us. Thank you for the way you have talked about it and for the photo's.

  10. Friends, thanks for all your interesting input.

    Sarah, that is so exciting that you know someone who was really in this history! Thanks so much for telling us.


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