Light Horse

Anniversary of the Light Horse Charge for Beersheba Launches 12 Days of Prayer for Israel

31 October 2023

2.8 MINS

The Battle of Beersheba on 31 October 1917 was a history-making moment that would be written into Australia’s prophetic purpose. Halloween is a non-event but this victory is really worth celebrating. It is fitting to issue a new call of 12 days of prayer for Israel on its 106th anniversary.

October 31 is a special day on God’s calendar and in the outworking of His purposes in history.

On this day in 1917, the 800-strong Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade (4th Light Horse Regiment and 12th Light Horse Regiment) charged Beersheba and against all odds, captured the city and, critically, with the water wells intact.

On 29 October 2007, the Jerusalem Post described the significance of this day with these words:

“…the Australian victory in 1917 set in train some remarkable events—the liberation of Jerusalem, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate in Palestine and ultimately the establishment of the State of Israel.”

The capture of Beersheba meant that, after previously failed attempts, the Gaza-Beersheba line was broken. The breaking of this line led to the capture of Gaza a week later. It climaxed with British troops entering Jerusalem on 9 December 1917.

The Australian troops were under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Chauvel, himself a man of sincere Christian faith. In his scrapbook, Chauvel wrote the word ‘prophetic’ under a photo of Jerusalem. That note continues to declare God’s providence over history to this day.

ANZAC History and the Charge of Beersheba

As the name ANZAC declares, Australia and New Zealand share in this rich history. Without the men of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, the charge of Beersheba would not have been feasible.

The New Zealand Brigade attacked Tel Be’er Shebva (Tel el Saba as it was then), a fortified hill 3.2 km northeast of the city. After six hours of fighting that began on the morning of 31 October, the New Zealanders prevailed against three Turkish heavy machine gun companies at 3:15 pm.

This opened the way for the direct attack on the Turkish army in Beersheba.

 

With only a few hours of daylight remaining, at 3:30 pm Lieutenant-General Harry Chauvel ordered Brigadier General William Grant to ready his 4th Light Horse Brigade for the charge of Beersheba.

The Brigade was not in position until 4.50 pm.

The Light Horse began with a trot but soon moved to a full gallop. They tore across the open plain down to Beersheba. While Turkish soldiers fired, the pace of the Light Horse meant that they routinely fired over the top of the encroaching army.

By 11 pm, Beersheba was under full British control.

The 1987 film The Lighthorsemen focuses on the charge of Beersheba. A short segment of the movie below portrays the events of that historic capture.

 

Military historians regard the Beersheba Light Horse charge in 1917 as the greatest one-day combat victory in Australian military history. Interestingly, today – 106 years later – Israeli soldiers are fighting for their nation in the Gaza area a mere 25 kilometres from the site of this historic victory.

Miraculously, only 31 light horsemen were killed in the charge while 36 were wounded. Considering the light horsemen faced 1,000 Turkish riflemen, nine machine guns and two aircraft, this is an astonishing outcome.

In contrast, the Turkish defenders suffered many casualties and over 700 troops were captured.

12 Days of Prayer for Israel: 31 October–11 November

Bruce and Cheryl Lindley from ARC Global have issued a call to pray for Israel during the present Hamas–Israel conflict. These twelve days begin and end with two significant dates: October 31 and 11 November – Remembrance Day.

In line with the courage, conviction, faith and comradery of the first Light Horsemen, this call to prayer is:

“for an army of prayer warriors to rise to stand with Israel’s warriors and to join the Host of Heaven’s Armies and wage war in the heavens.”

Joel 2:11 declares the following about God’s army:

“The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command.”

On this historic day, may God’s intercessory army rise in the spirit of the ANZACs.

(Please note this call to prayer is being hosted by ARC Global, not Canberra Declaration.)

DATE: Join the ARC Global team each night for 12 nights from Tuesday 31 October to 11 November.

TIME: 8 pm AEDT; 7 pm Qld; 7:30 pm SA; 6:30 pm NT; 5 pm WA.

ZOOM URL: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2417282145

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