Australia PM in Israel to Mark WWI Battle of Beersheba

(Jim Hollander/Pool Photo via AP

(AFP) — Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday at the start of a visit to mark a World War I cavalry charge against Ottoman forces.

The World War I Battle of Beersheba, in what is today southern Israel, pitted the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and the British Army against Ottoman troops in a struggle for control of a strategic crossroads.

In the battle on October 31, 1917, Australia’s 4th Light Horse regiment staged an audacious frontal assault on Ottoman trenches.

The London Australian War Memorial narrates the battle on its website.

“The capture of Beersheba enabled British Empire forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza on November 7 and advance into Palestine,” it says.

Turnbull said the operation was “the last succesful cavalry charge.”

Addressing reporters after his meeting with Netanyahu, he said they had discussed defense, cyber security, economics and history.

“We talked about the Battle of Beersheba,” he said.

“There were more horses and troopers in that charge than there were in the Charge of the Light Brigade,” he added, referring to a notorious failed British assault against Russian forces during the Crimean War.

“And it ended much better, in victory. It really was a pivotal moment,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu met New Zealand Governor-General Patsy Reddy, also in Israel for the centenary.

The event will be marked on Tuesday with a 100-horse parade in Beersheba by volunteer Australian riders in period uniform, a reenactment of the charge and a memorial ceremony at the city’s Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.



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