Thursday, 23 March 2017

A ‘new’ photo of an Australian Beersheba hero?

In an earlier post, I wrote about Captain Norman Rae MC, a hero of Beersheba and my ‘Sunday School Captain’.

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) London site has a page on the Battle of Beersheba. The charge of the 4th Australian Light Horse at Beersheba late in the afternoon of 31 October 1917, was the world's last great cavalry charge. 

In the slide show at that site, I found a picture which I thought would be a wonderful illustration for the story of Captain Rae. 

The caption reads ‘A large group of Turkish prisoners, being led by an Australia soldier of the Light Horse on horseback'

Captain Rae probably did the same thing; he’d captured some 60 Turkish troops himself and I guess that meant he then had to look after them.

Although the picture is unclear as I looked at it the general shape of the face and the build of the soldier, it reminded me of Captain Rae.  

The AWM advised that “It is far too hard to say if the person is Norman Gordon [Rae]. We have no documentation to say anything about the people in the image.” That’s fair enough but after looking at several pictures of the event I haven’t come across anyone else who looks more like the person leading the prisoners than Captain Rae.

There is the earlier picture in my previous post and this one in which he is clearly identified as the fellow seated in the centre. 

What do you think?

The charge itself

It may be impossible to recreate the feeling of the charge itself but two attempts have been made. 

The patriotic film Forty Thousand Horsemen directed in 1940 by Charles Chauvel, helped build the Australian film industry and is most famous in its day for the recreation of the charge. 

Later the 70th anniversary of the charge in 1987 was marked in another Australian film The Lighthorsemen directed by Simon Wincer. The characters in the film were based on real people. You can see its recreation of the charge on YouTube.

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