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Rocky man embarks on 100 year tribute to 'turning point of the war'

SADDLE UP: Howard Weier (right) and David Britten in their original summer uniforms and saddled up will celebrate the 100 year anniversary of The Battle of Beersheba in Israel in October.
SADDLE UP: Howard Weier (right) and David Britten in their original summer uniforms and saddled up will celebrate the 100 year anniversary of The Battle of Beersheba in Israel in October. Shayla Bulloch

AFTER 43 years out of the saddle, Howard Weier is dusting off his reins and embarking on a trip of a lifetime through the desert on the other side of the world.

The 75-year-old will travel to Israel in an unforgettable trip to mark the 100 year anniversary of The Battle of Beersheba with the Australian Light Horse Brigade as his first trip out of the country.

The Koongal man was thrilled to take part in this trip of a lifetime, despite his rustiness getting back on a horse.

He is working hard to be fit and ready for the 23-day trip.

Howard's ambition to be in the military was cut short as a young man in Lowood but his passion for the service never faded when he joined the Queensland Police Force.

 

Member of the Australian 2nd Light Horse on active duty in the Middle East ca. 1917
Member of the Australian 2nd Light Horse on active duty in the Middle East ca. 1917 State Library of Queensland)

His duties took him around the state where he met his wife, Elaine Hunt, in Longreach before hanging up his badge to work back at the family farm.

Howard explained he and his wife visited Rocky in 1973 on a whim to visit relatives, bought a copy of The Morning Bulletin and put a deposit on a house.

Since then, his passion for the region grew when he joined the ANZAC Day parade which the keen Harley Davidson rider has been involved in since 1981.

Now with three generations involved in the parade, Howard rides up front in his 1942 Harley Davidson while his family drives the military Jeeps.

 

Line of mounted Light Horse troops on manoeuvres Heliopolis Cairo Egypt 1915.
Line of mounted Light Horse troops on manoeuvres Heliopolis Cairo Egypt 1915. State Library of Queensland)

Howard, who volunteers weekly at the Rocky Military Museum, said his longing to be a part of the services was what drove him to take up the challenge to commemorate the "turning point of the war" in October.

"I'm very fascinated with the war, it more or less broke the Ottoman Empire which ruled Turkey and other European countries," he said.

The grand re-enactment will charge over the same hallowed ground taken by the 4th Light Horse Brigade in the historic charge on October 31, 1917.

After two failed attempts to attack Gaza frontally it was decided to outflank it by turning the Turkish line around Beersheba.

The attack was launched at dawn on 31 October but by late afternoon the British 20 Corps had made little headway towards vital water wells.

 

Esani, Palestine. c. 1916. Australian Light Horsemen watering their horses at a river crossing.
Esani, Palestine. c. 1916. Australian Light Horsemen watering their horses at a river crossing. Donor Miss D. Traill

The 4th Light Horse Brigade was then pushed forward to attempt to secure the position.

The surprise attack on the Turkish carried the 4th and 12th Australian Regiments through their defences by employing their bayonets as swords.

Howard said this attack was a vital part of history and a crew of 90 on horseback and 80 on foot would re-enact the historic hour-long battle over one single day.

"We will take exactly what those men did 100 years ago," he said.

"Everything is original from blanket under the horses' saddle to our uniforms."

Howard said the group of men from Australia, New Zealand and England would camp under the stars in the freezing Negv desert to gain a true experience of the battle.

During his 23 day trip, Howard and his fellow troops would be honouring fallen Australian soldiers by visiting Gallipolli, Amman Forstress and Dardenelles.

In pursuit of the challenging "peace ride" through Israel, troops from the ALHA will ride from Barcaldine to Winton next week until September 23.

THE BATTLE OF BEERSHEBA

  • 800 men and horses made up the 4th adn 12th Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Over 1000 Turkish prisoners were taken.
  • 31 men from the Light Horse were killed, 36 were wounded, 70 horses killed with over 60 wounded..
  • Ottoman casualties are believed to be about 1000 (killed and wounded).
  • The success of this charge allowed approx 60,000 Allied troops access to water.

Topics:  australian light horse association barcaldine battle of beersheba egypt gallipolli gaza horseback israel winton wwi



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