Battle of Beersheba

Battle of Beersheba commemoration

31 October 2017

Today on this most important day, being 100 years since the charge of Beersheba, I want to acknowledge members of the Australian Jewish community in the gallery and also Honor Auchinleck and her husband, Mark, who I have had the pleasure of attending a number of events with over the last week. Of course Honor is the granddaughter of Sir Harry Chauvel.

On this day 100 years ago the 4th regiment of the Australian Light Horse and the 12th regiment, consisting mostly of young men from the Goulburn Valley, lined up for a do-or-die charge. The 4th was under the command of Murray Bourchier, while the 12th was led by Major Eric Hyman. They galloped across an open plain protected by Turkish riflemen, machine guns and aircraft to Beersheba, which held the only water supply in the area. Murray Bourchier was described by the RSL upon his death as a 'splendid soldier and a born leader'. He personally accompanied the charge of the reserve squadron and assisted in fighting while also directing his men.

Following the battle, Bourchier received a Distinguished Service Order for his gallant courage, determination and skill. After the war he was promoted to the rank of brigadier. He returned to his farm at Strathmerton and, as we have heard, he was the leader at one stage of the Victorian Farmers Union, the forerunner of the present-day National Party.

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