Fought on 31 October 1917, the Battle of Beersheba, and its dramatic conclusion by a mounted charge of two Australian light horse regiments, has become one of Australia’s best known First World War actions. It is perhaps the only battle fought in the Sinai-Palestine Campaign of 1916-18 that many Australians might recognise, has been the subject of Australian feature films (twice) and today its memory has become a vehicle for the promotion of Australian-Israeli ties. It has also become a tool for national self-congratulation and myth-making, with claims about the Australian role including that it was the last great cavalry charge in history or that that it turned the tide of campaign.This public lecture will examine the battle and the Australian role in it to challenge some myths and offer an insightful appreciation of the events and their place in history.
Jean Bou is a military historian and a senior lecturer at the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He is the author, co-author or editor of ten books on Australian military history and has written extensively on the Australian involvement in the First World War, particularly on the fighting in Palestine.