The efforts of the mounted infantry in capturing the port city of Jaffa in the Palestinian campaign in the first World War, especially the role of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, was remembered by the Australian Light Horse Association last week. With three New Zealanders proudly holding their flag, the first of many commemorative ceremonies to be undertaken by the ALHA in the lead-up to the centenary of the Light Horse charge at Beersheba on October 31, took place at the Jaffa railway station. Kelvin Crombie, the historian for the 170-strong group, explained that it had been a strategic victory in that it cut the Turkish rail access between Jaffa and Jerusalem.
“This was all about location, location, location. After Beersheba, General Allenby wanted to secure more water, and release his mounted forces. The Turkish 8th army was down here on the coast and the 7th army was up in the hills. The Anzac Mounted Division moved towards Jaffa and the New Zealanders had to face a large number of Turkish forces. Everyone, cooks and all, were pressed into action.”
Forty-nine New Zealanders were killed, and many horses, but the Turkish line was broken.