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The Campaign in the
Middle East

Advance From Egypt

In March 1916 the ANZAC Mounted Division (1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigades and New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade) was formed in Egypt under the command of Major General [later Lieutenant-General Sir] Harry G. Chauvel. In August, as part of the British and allied forces, the Division defeated a Turkish advance to Romani, and forced the enemy back to the line Gaza-Beersheba.

Light Horse 01

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An Australian Light Horse unit raising dust on the move in the Jordan Valley, Palestine, ca. 1917 (from a photograph donated by J. Campbell) (AWM H02984)

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A Regiment of the Australian Light Horse on the march near Jerusalem, in Palestine. (AWM B01619)

Light Horse 02
Light Horse 03

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Men of the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade watering their horses at Esdud, in Palestine, on 1st September 1918. (AWM B01507)

During 1917 the Division was involved in the initial battles for Gaza and in the capture of Beersheba, where the Light Horse, armed only with rifles and bayonets, acted as cavalry. In August the Desert Mounted Corps was formed, consisting of the ANZAC Mounted Division (1st, 2nd Light Horse and New Zealand Brigades), Australian Mounted Division (3rd, 4th Light Horse and 5th Yeomanry Brigades) and the Yeomanry Division.

After playing a prominent part in the capture of Jerusalem in December, the Corps was withdrawn to rest. However, the German ‘Michael’ offensive in March 1918 caused many British troops, including most of the Yeomanry Division, to be redeployed to France. Nevertheless, the Corps defeated a determined attack in April by the German Asia Corps at Abu Telluk in the Jordan Valley. During September the Corps played an important part in the advance to Haifa and Semakh, and on 1 October entered Damascus. Turkey signed an armistice at the end of that month, by which time Corps units had reached Aleppo.

The above text is taken from the booklet The Australian Army - A Brief History.

More Information:
Australian Light Horse - Historic Battles of WW1

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Copyright © ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee (Qld) Incorporated 1998.