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PLAQUE NO.
76 ... Beer-Sheba       

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At the beginning of the 20th Century, Beer-Sheba was a small town dominated by years of Turkish (Ottoman) rule, now it is a thriving city. During World War I (1914-18) the town formed the Eastern part of the main Turkish/German defence line which opposed the 1916 Northerly advance of the British from Suez. During March and April 1917 the British made two unsuccessful attacks of Gaza, which was at the Western end of the line. These failures forced a new plan and Beer-Sheba became the goal, to capture it within a day was essential as the 58,000 British led force had 100,000 animals and no water reserves.

At dawn on 31 October 1917, the British infantry attacked from the a position 9km from the South-West of Beer-Sheba. The mounted Australian and New Zealand forces took the high ground to the East, but in the late afternoon 4,400 Turks still held the water wells and the British position appeared doomed. A last desperate assault launched from the South-Eats, 800 Australian mounted infantry (the Light Horse) charged the town of Beer-Sheba. As they galloped headlong across 5km of open , downhill terrain towards Beer-Sheba they were swept by Turkish machine guns and artillery. So sudden and reckless was the charge that the Turks panicked. Within minutes, the Australian had captured Beer-Sheba and it's precious wells. This, the last triumphant cavalry charge in world history, routed the Turks and thereafter for the remainder of the war the Turks failed to pose a serious threat.

In Israel, today there are still told stories of these Australian who fought there and who are still thought of with warmth and kindness. The cultural and economic links between these two young countries continue to develop together with a growing closeness between their peoples whose shared goals are freedom and independence.

 



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