[Editor: This poem, by Trooper A. Beatty, regarding the Battle of Beersheba (1917), which took place during the First World War (1914-1918), was published in the The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic.), 21 September 1918.]
We left the “Wadey” at break of day,
We rode far into the night;
Our loads were heavy, our horses poor,
But we pushed them on as we’d done before,
And swallowed the dust, and growled and swore,
Till Esani came in sight.
Two days we rested, three days we rode,
While the ’planes buzzed overhead.
We left Khalassa at dead of night,
And we rode till dawn; then, streaked with white,
The mountains of Judah came in sight,
Like watchers o’er the dead.
We kept our horses behind the rise,
We followed the “Wadey” round,
And sunset found us behind a hill,
Our horses tired, but ready still
To gallop again at their riders’ will,
And watch for the broken ground.
Three miles of a wind-swept, shell-torn plain,
Where death was sure to lurk!
The shrapnel screamed, the bullets whined,
Swift death spat out from the redoubts lined,
And red flame showed where the wells were mined
By the panic-stricken Turk.
The sun set red as we galloped on,
Our ranks thinned here and there,
As one dropped out who would ride no more;
And a groan, as somebody galloped o’er
A foeman, battered and sick and sore,
Surrendering in despair!
Onward we rode till we reached the town
At the end of the three-mile plain.
Empty and burning the old town lay;
The foeman, beaten, had slunk away,
And left us there at the dawn of day,
To follow, and fight again.
* * * * * * *
The sun rose high on the saddest scene,
The last of the boys “gone West!”
They’d all gone out as the soldier dies —
We buried them out on a lonely “rise” —
Where the mournful wind from the desert sighs,
We left them there at rest.
Perhaps a cross, or a row of shells,
On a wind-swept dusty “rise,”
Will mark where a brave man left the race
With a willing heart and a smiling face —
His grave a Bedouin camping-place —
But memory never dies!
(Lines written by TROOPER A. BEATTY, Sassafras, 4th Light Horse.)
The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic.), 21 September 1918, p. 577 (53rd page of that issue)
Bedouin = of or relating to the Bedouin tribes (nomadic Arab tribes) of the Middle East; a person of Bedouin ethnicity
See: “Bedouin”, Wikipedia
gone West = died, dead; can also refer to being killed, lost, or to meet with disaster
o’er = (archaic) over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
’plane = an abbreviation of “aeroplane” or “airplane”
redoubt = a fort, a stronghold; a defensive military fortification or position (especially a small and temporary one); a protected place, a safe place of refuge; an organisation, movement, or ideological collective which defends a belief or a way of life (especially a belief or a way of life which is under threat and/or disappearing)
wadey = an alternative spelling (or a misspelling) of “wadi”: a river, stream, or watercourse in North Africa or the Middle East which is dry except during the rainy season; a ravine, defile, gorge, gully, passage, or valley containing a stream bed or river bed which is dry except during the rainy season (also spelt: wady; plural: wadies)
[Editor: Changed “On wind-swept” to “On a wind-swept”.]