CQ riders saddle up to honour historic battle
BY day they are Central Queensland teachers, solicitors, farmers, retirees, high school students and devoted parents.
After hours, these Mount Morgan locals step back in time to remember the legendary local Light Horsemen who helped win the First World War in The Battle of Beersheba.
More than 100 horses and a support crew will travel to the Queensland outback to commemorate and re-enact the battle in towns between Barcaldine, Longreach and Winton from September 19 to 23.
Two of the riders from Mount Morgan, Wayne Brown and Maree Skillington, met in 2012 and quickly discovered they had a shared interest in Australian Light Horse.
Being a member of the Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Troop since 2004, Mr Brown encouraged Ms Skillington to join.
Over this time he had tirelessly collected authentic Australian Light Horse issued equipment which weighs 127kg and costs over $5000 to acquire.
Mr Brown can tell the in's and out's of the different equipment used and how it developed over the war period.
"It's important to keep the memory alive," he said.
"So many things get lost in history.
"The sacrifice the ALH made during the first world war was the ultimate sacrifice and they were fighting to keep the world free.”
They spend up to 20 hours a week practising the exact drills and commands executed by the ALH.
Even investing thousands of dollars in equipment and horses to travelled the country and locate and purchase original saddles, rifles, bayonets and the historical uniforms worn by Queensland's world-famous Light Horsemen.
This week Queenslanders will commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the battle which played an important role in the eventual allied victory.
Chairman of the Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Troop Jed Millen said the ALH were an incredibly brave and skilled collection of young men.
"These Queensland Horsemen grew up riding and camping but it wasn't until the war that their horse and bush survival skills were fully recognised,” he said.
"This week 100 riders will come together to re-enact this epic battle and commemorate the efforts of those who fought and rode overseas during the First World War.''
Mr Millen's Great-Grandfather was in the 10th Light Horse in Egypt saying the Queensland and Australian Horsemen were called upon when all seemed lost.
"The Allied troops had been trying without much success to penetrate the Turkish trenches near the Palestinian town of Gaza,'' Mr Millen said.
"In a last-ditch effort to move forward and save the troops' lives, it was decided to take the unusual move of sending members of the 4th Light Horse Brigade in on horseback with their bayonets to be used as swords.''
The Light Horsemen's tactics as Mounted Infantry was to ride into position, dismount and move forward to engage the enemy.
"The Horsemen of the 4th Light Horse Brigade (4th & 12th Regiments) saddled up and charged,'' Mr Millen said.
"The Turkish troops were so surprised and shocked by the sudden mounted attack they were unable to properly return fire or retaliate. The Allies took up to 1000 Turkish prisoners and the town of Beersheba that day.''
Mr Brown and Ms Skillington have brought support crew including Mr Brown's wife Mary Anne Brown and Maree's daughter Nikki Olzard in support of the historic re-enactment.
"Nikki would have ridden if we could have brought another horse along. But she is happy she gets to come along be with the horses and to remember the Light Horsemen that went war." Ms Skillington said
The riders will begin in Barcaldine on September 19 and finish the five-day event with a rehearsed 100-strong charge at dusk on September 21 in Winton.
The events and re-enactment will remember the 800 men who rode and 31 who lost their lives during the Battle of Beersheba to breakthrough the Gaza - Beersheba Turkish line of defence.