Highlights- Desert Anzacs

These are just some of the highlights, brought to life through soldier stories in the book;

  • More than men and horses, this is the story of the Australian Light Horse (ALH), NZ Mounted Rifles (NZMR), Imperial Camel Corps [ICC], No 1 Sqn Australian Flying Corps (AFC), light and armoured cars, medics, vets, Army Remount Unit (ARU), drivers, cooks, storemen, naval bridging unit, ss Suva (became HMS Suva) and their people
  • Chauvel was Australia’s first Lieutenant General, The brilliance of Australia’s Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel saw him knighted twice in the field for outstanding leadership, first non-British officer appointed to command British troops (unheard of), first Australian to command a Corps (also unheard of) – even before the more famous General Sir John Monash
  • Imaginative stories by under age youth allowed them to enlist, then fascinating stories by soldiers of their experiences and emotions
  • ‘Banjo’ Patterson, the Australian poet, commanded an Army Remount Unit company in Egypt
  • Australia was the only dominion nation to deploy an air arm. Lt Richard “Dickie” Williams was eventually promoted to Squadron Commander then Wing Commander to command one Aus and 5 British squadrons; he went on after the war to founder the RAAF and became Air Chief Marshal
  • Lieutenant Frank McNamara was awarded the only Australian Victoria Cross in this campaign, went on in the RAAF to become Air Vice Marshall
  • Pilots Lieutenants Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinnis came home to founder QANTAS
  • The Empire Soldiers Clubs, set up by Alice Chisolm and Rania Macphillamy, served meals and provided recreation to war troubled soldiers with limited leave facilities
  • Arab Revolt began June 1916 against their Muslim Ottoman cousins and received direct Anzac support from ALH, AFC, ICC where Lawrence Of Arabia (LOA) became the famous liaison officer to Arabs
  • LOA was directly supported by airmen of the AFC, ss/HMS Suva, Sgt Charles Yells a machine gun instructor, the ALH and ICC – they saved him and his cause several times
  • The British had to maintain the loyalty of hundreds of thousands of Muslim labourers and soldiers of Egypt and India and avoid them taking up the Sultan’s Jihad call
  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia provided gold sovereigns to buy Arab loyalty to British cause and counter Sultan’s jihad call
  • Battle of Romani, won by Chauvel and the Anzac Mounted Division in Aug 1916, became first British victory of whole war two and half years after it started and saw an end to Turkish attacks on the Suez Canal
  • Anzacs never lost while under Anzac command – but they did suffer under British command in two attacks on Gaza and twice in raids across the Jordan River
  • An unimaginable victory at the Battle of Beersheba Oct 1917 was the last mass mounted charge in history – this victory allowed the final capture of Gaza then advance into Palestine
  • Jerusalem was captured Dec 1917 after 730 years of Muslim control and city opened to all religions. Huge morale boost to British public after three years of devastation on Western Front
  • Life in the desert as described by soldiers – heat >50°C, cold winter nights minus °C, flies, fleas, ticks, dust, scorpions, snakes, brackish water for men and horses with one water bottle a day from stupid British staff officers, poor diet, boredom, no local towns for recuperation like France
  • Turkish soldiers throughout the campaign were poorly supplied, fed, clothed, medicated and, supported by Arab and British propaganda, thousands deserted. Yet they fought resolutely
  • In Sep 1918 the “Great Ride” saw 30,000 horsemen commanded by Chauvel sweep through northern Palestine into Syria to enter Damascus. Meanwhile, the AMD swept through the Turkish army east of the Jordan River and Australian airmen destroyed German aircraft harassing the Arabs before they deserted the cause. The Ottoman Empire was no more
  • The horses couldn’t be brought back to Australia for quarantine and cost reasons – did some of the soldiers shoot their horse (a court martial offence), rather than leave them to be mistreated by the local natives?
  • But it wasn’t over – malaria, Spanish flu and the Egyptian uprising delayed many homegoings until May 1919


Desert Anzac Gallery

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo1

    Ziza Hejaz Rail Station

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo2

    Tibby Cotter's headstone Beersheba

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo3

    Sinai Map

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo4

    AFC/RFC Memorial Plaque

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo5

    Author 'on the dig'

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo6

    Amman Hejaz Station

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo7

    Wadi Rumm from Lawrence's Spring

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo8

    Wadi Rumm

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo9

    Armoured Car

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo10

    Hospitality for the Author

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo11

    Ottoman Fort, Fassua Ridge

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo12

    Station Facade Damascus

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo13

    Sharif Nasser bin Nasser at Australian War Memorial

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo14

    Desert Mounted Corps Memorial

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo15

    Turkish Memorial E, Salt

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo16

    Recruiting Medical

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo17

    Recruit bayonet training

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo18

    Horse draw ambulance

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo19

    Theatre Map

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo20

    Israeli Family visit, DMC Memorial Beersheba

  • Desert Anzacs - Photo21

    Australian Memorial Park, Beersheba

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