[Editor: This letter from Trooper Tom Latimer, regarding the Battle of Beersheba (1917), which took place during the First World War (1914-1918), was published in The Sun (Sydney, NSW), 23 February 1918.]
Fall of Beersheba
Charge of the —— Regiment
How Anzacs fight
The sight of a century
Trooper Tom Latimer, writing to his parents at Waitara, sends a graphic description of the wonderful charge of the — L.H. which turned the tide at Beersheba, and at a critical moment.
“The advance from our side was absolutely devoid of cover, a bare plain, and Jacko was quite confident we could not shift him. Our No. 2 limber had to extend a line of cable for the Anzac Division, who were closing in, and they had half their detachment wiped out, but did their job. By jove, it was hell. Things were just on the balance about 4 o’clock, when the — Regiment, my old regiment, were given the order to mount. The — are attached to the — Brigade.
“At this time word was wired to our great general (Allenby) that they did not think Beersheba could be taken that night.
“Word was returned to take it at any cost.
“The — Regiment were ordered forward. They moved in squadron formation, and were within about three-quarters of a mile from the Turks’ first trench, when they were given the order to charge.
“They had their rifles slung, and only their bayonets in their hands.
“Fancy only a bayonet, which is about 18in. long, to face a horde of well-armed and trenched devils!
“They faced shell, shrapnel, machine-gun, rifle-fire, and bayonet, with only a weapon like a carving-knife.
“The charge, oh, Lord, dear people, it was glorious. Nothing could stop them. At the Jackos they went full gallop, cursing and yelling.
“Straight over the first line of trenches went the glorious —, being shot down, men and horses, in all directions. Then on to the next, over it, and so on, straight into Beersheba.
“They surrounded the main buildings, hospitals, &c., and the railway, where the captures — a general and his staff — were just about to move off.
“The city was theirs; simultaneously the infantry from the western side gained their object.
“The charge of the — Regiment of our bonnie boys is one — and all arms, English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh, New Zealanders, Indians, say so — of the greatest ever known. It was superhuman to take such a position armed as they were.
“I have just tried to give you an idea of that one engagement. I could go on writing for a week, and could tell many more glorious and brave deeds done by our boys, New Zealanders, British yeomanry, and infantry. These last are great men. They are only little chaps, many of them mere boys, but the bravest and hardiest lads God ever made.”
The Sun (Sydney, NSW), 23 February 1918, p. 8
Also published in:
Casino & Kyogle Courier and North Coast Advertiser (Casino, NSW), 2 March 1918, p. 4 (entitled “Fall of Beersheba: How Anzacs fought”)
—— = two em dashes (or a variant number of em dashes) used in place of a military unit’s name or number, or in place of a location’s name, so as to ensure minimisation of information conveyed during a time of conflict or war, in order to deprive enemy agents of any possibly useful information; an em dash is an extended dash (also known as an “em rule” or a “horizontal bar”), being a dash which is as wide as the height of the font being used; em dashes can also be used to indicate swearing or an unknown word
&c. = an alternative form of “etc.”; an abbreviation of “et cetera” (also spelt “etcetera”), a Latin term (“et” meaning “and”, “cetera” meaning “the rest”) which is translated as “and the rest (of such things)”, used in English to mean “and other similar things”, “other unspecified things of the same class” or “and so forth”
Allenby = Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby (1861-1936), 1st Viscount Allenby, a British general who commanded British and Commonwealth forces during the First World War (1914-1918); he was promoted to the rank of Field Marshall in 1919
See: “Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby”, Wikipedia
arms = (in a military context) a reference to the various arms of the military (e.g. infantry, cavalry, air force); a branch of an organisation or movement; can also refer to: armaments, firearms, weapons; bearing weapons (e.g. men under arms)
Beersheba = a city in Israel
bonnie = attractive, beautiful, fair, pretty; handsome; excellent, fine, good, pleasant, pleasing; cheerful, happy, merry; frolicsome, lively; healthy-looking, plump (especially regarding a baby); a form of address for a baby or a loved one; a considerable or sizeable amount (e.g. “it costs a bonny sum”), a lot (also spelt: bonny)
by jove = an exclamatory oath, denoting excitement or surprise; the phrase was a way of saying “by God” without blaspheming (“Jove” is an alternate name for Jupiter; in Roman mythology, Jupiter was king of the gods, as well as the god of sky and thunder)
in. = an abbreviation of “inch” or “inches”; an inch is a unit of length in the British imperial system of measurement (an inch is equal to 2.54 centimetres)
Jacko = a nickname for Turks (especially used during the First World War, 1914-1918) (plural: Jackos)
L.H. = an abbreviation of Light Horse
limber = a two-wheeled cart (also known as an “ammunition wagon”), being that part of a gun carriage used to support the trail or legs of a piece of field artillery; limbers commonly have an ammunition chest attached, used to carry ammunition and/or equipment for field artillery
Lord = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to God or Jesus
yeomanry = cavalry units of the British armed forces; after the First World War (1914-1918), Yeomanry units were turned into armoured vehicle units, were repurposed to fulfill other functions, or were disbanded
See: “Yeomanry”, Wikipedia