Riding with the ghosts of their ancestors

Australia-Israel bonds strengthened at Beersheba centenary service


News
Walk for peace: A section of the Australian Light Horse Association re-enactment of the history-making charge at Beersheba. Picture: Orit Crombie.

Walk for peace: A section of the Australian Light Horse Association re-enactment of the history-making charge at Beersheba. Picture: Orit Crombie.

Aa

One hundred years to the minute, 100 horsemen and women from Australia and New Zealand last week rode themselves into history when they took part in the re-enactment of the charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba.

Aa

One hundred years to the minute, 100 horsemen and women from Australia and New Zealand last week rode themselves into history when they took part in the re-enactment of the charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba.

Tuesday's historic event took place before the Prime Ministers of Israel and Australia, New Zealand's Governor-General, and an internet audience of millions.

As the Australians, members of the Australian Light Horse Association paid homage to the bravery of their forefathers, tears flowed from both the Anzacs in the audience and their Jewish brethren.

"It was an historic day," said In the Steps of the Light Horse tour leader, Barry Rodgers.

"You got into the souls of the Jewish people. They are realising their modern history didn't start in 1948, but in 1917. Our forefathers wrote their names in the deserts of Palestine, and now we have as well."

The October 31, 1917 charge by the Australian Light Horse not only won the city for the Allied forces and ended the 400-year rule of the Ottoman empire, it helped pave the way for the modern state of Israel.

At the same time as the audacious feat of horsemanship and bravery took place, Britain’s War Cabinet voted for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, known as the Balfour Declaration.

Tuesday's charge over the same dusty battlefield was preceded by a service at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Beersheba and a parade through the streets  before thousands of cheering onlookers by the Light Horse riders.

It was the largest gathering of horsemen and women in Israel since the World War One charge.

A majority of the riders were honouring a family member who had served in the Syria-Palestine campaign and all felt the special opportunity they had to walk with the ghosts of their ancestors.

Australia’s ambassador, Chris Cannan, told the group the Israeli people appreciated that many hundreds of Australians had been buried in their soil as the result of service in both world wars.

“This sacrifice of life continues even to this date, with 25 Australian servicemen and women serving in the UN’s Sinai peace-keeping force,” he said. “It’s not just history we’re talking about, but today’s Australia-Israel relations that you are playing an incredibly important part in.”

The story Riding with the ghosts of their ancestors first appeared on North Queensland Register.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by