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Rising Sun*
11-01-2007, 06:15 AM
What's wrong with this? It's just one of many examples of recent news here.

And no, it's not the usual nonsense claim that this was a great cavalry charge when cavalry was on the way out.


Ninety years ago to the day, they set out at full gallop towards the Turkish guns in what one historian called a "crazed" charge.

This time, those re-enacting the famous charge of the Light Horse Regiments in the Battle of Beersheba in 1917 broke into little more than a gentle canter.

Still, it was hot and dusty and some of those dressed in heavy woollen period uniforms, complete with slouch hats adorned with emu feathers, and carrying World War I issue rifles, were no longer young men.

Nor was the reception as hostile.

Instead of Turkish artillery, the 50 or so members of the Australian Light Horse Association, and others, were greeted by cheering Israelis as they rode into what was then known as Beersheba, now the Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, on the edge of the Negev Desert.

In all, nearly 1000 Australians, New Zealanders, Israelis, Britons and others gathered to honour the Australian Light Horse Brigade, whose last-ditch, seemingly near-suicidal charge against the Turks on October 31, 1917, was a turning point in World War I and helped pave the way for the creation of the state of Israel.

The proceedings began with memorial services at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, continued with a memorial for fallen Turks who defended Be'er Sheva against attacking Australians and New Zealanders, and ended with a re-enactment of the dramatic charge.

Those who rode ranged in age from 18 to 80, and some were descendants of those involved in one of the last great cavalry charges, before modern warfare made horses irrelevant.

For Grant Pike, of Rainbow Flat in NSW, the re-enactment held a special significance - his great-uncle Harold Seale survived the charge.

Not all did. After the first memorial service, Pike knelt at the grave of George Cooke, one of around 30 Australians who died.

"This man was a friend of my great uncle," Pike explained.

He displayed a photograph of the fallen soldier, on the back of which Pike's great-uncle had scrawled: "George, who was killed in our charge in Be'er Sheva".

Trooper Cooke was just 22 when he died. His family chose his epitaph "Duty Nobly Done".

"I'm very honoured to be here," Pike said.

"It reminds us to be grateful for what we have, and not to take things for granted."

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Meachem, of Temora in NSW, is serving with the United Nations observer force at the Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Syria borders.

Standing in the dusty field known as Sarah Valley, waiting for the Light Horse charge re-enactment to begin, he said: "As a serving Australian soldier, this is an amazing opportunity".

"The interesting thing is how long Australians have been serving here.

"We're standing at graves of soldiers who died 90 years ago, and here we are, still in uniform, still trying to solve the problems in the region."

As with Gallipoli, the sites of old battles are increasingly drawing younger Australians keen to learn of the exploits of their forebears.

"It's one of the few times we get to be really patriotic," said Heidi Le Lievre, 22, an Australian "traveller and temp" in Israel to visit a friend working at the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

"Seeing how hard the light horse society worked to be here, and their attention to detail, and to have so many people here and so many nations represented, is encouraging.

"It's good to see that the contributions of these soldiers is acknowledged. It does make one proud to be an Australian."

Speakers at the ceremonies included the mayor of Be'er Sheva, the ambassadors of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, and representatives of the Australian Light Horse Association and the Israeli World War I Society.

They spoke of the bravery of the fallen soldiers, the hope for peace in the region, and the opportunity, as Australian Ambassador James Larsen put it, "to give thanks that those we once fought here are now our friends".

Despite the heat and the sense of ceremony, the mood of the day was friendly and festive, as those re-creating the charge paraded through Be'er Sheva and posed for photographs with locals.

"It's great for the people who live in Be'er Sheva that finally something exciting is happening here," said 15-year-old Eliza Frankel.

"We see the (commonwealth) cemetery and the monument (to fallen Turks), and now we appreciate it."

The charge by the 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse Regiments has passed into legend.

The attack on what was then an outpost of the Ottoman empire was launched to outflank the Turkish bastion of Gaza, against which two previous attacks had failed.

The Australian Light Horse managed to do what no one else had managed for hundreds of years: they overthrew Turkish forces controlling the Gaza-Be'er Sheva line, paving the way for commonwealth forces to reach Jerusalem.

Though an obscure location by almost any measure, Be'er Sheva, named for the water wells which were said to have been dug by Abraham, was strategically crucial because of its water supplies.

With water running out among the commonwealth forces, Light Horse commander, Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel, ordered his men to storm Be'er Sheva before nightfall on October 31, or to die trying.

The Light Horse - who were mounted infantry rather than cavalry - set off, galloping, as usual, to a point 1,500 metres from the Turkish trenches.

But rather than stopping to dismount to fight on foot, as they normally would, the 800 horsemen continued at full gallop toward - and then directly over - the Turks and their guns.

Riding at full speed, the Light Horse overran the Turkish lines before the defenders were able to adjust their artillery.

It was all over in less than an hour, with relatively few casualties.

The survivors later formed the honour guard for the British commander, Field Marshal Edmund Allenby, on his victory march into Jerusalem.

The 90th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba was also marked in Australia.

In Sydney, NSW Governor Marie Bashir unveiled a plaque commemorating the battle at 4.30pm - the same time the Light Horse began their charge.

At the same ceremony, John Cox presented the World War I and Boer War medals won by his father, the light horseman Arthur Cox, to the Australian War Memorial.

"We think that by giving the medals to the memorial to be displayed then more people will be able to see them and then more people may realise just what we owe to those blokes who went away and fought and were willing to die for us to save our country and to save our ideals," Cox told AAP.

He said Beersheba was a greater cavalry attack than the more famous Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854, during the Crimean War.

"It's a shame that it is not taught to many of our children at school and most people haven't even heard of it," Cox said.

"Yet those 800 men did what the crusaders couldn't do, they did what the soldiers of a number of armies couldn't do and that is they defeated the mighty Turkish army.

"By winning that they shortened the war."
http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/cavalry-charge-relived/2007/11/01/1193619034748.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2

And the big flaw, overlooked as usual by journalists with no knowledge of history, is that Beersheba was not during WWI or even WWII an Israeli or even Jewish village. It became one only after the Zionists ejected the Arab inhabitants of Beersheba around 1948.

Israelis welcoming the diggers is a gloriously sick historical joke. No wonder 15 year old Eliza Frankel doesn't understand why WWI soldiers from the British Commonwealth and Turkey are commemorated in her town, because it ain't part of her history, which began only after WWII. Meanwhile the more recent and much less decent history which displaced the ancient inhabitants of the town is ignored by everyone.

To conclude on a lighter note, it is sometimes said that the diggers charged with such enthusiasm because they misunderstood the aim of the exercise as being to obtain Beer Sheila (sheila = woman).

Librarian
12-26-2008, 09:15 AM
Some interesting news connected with the WW I, honorable ladies and gentlemen. Please, just follow this link further comments are completely superfluous:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1098904/Secret-Lusitania-Arms-challenges-Allied-claims-solely-passenger-ship.html

1000ydstare_redux
01-01-2009, 05:16 AM
They should always use the contempory title, reference to the modern title (possible with any famous middle bits).

That is my opinion anyway.

pdf27
01-01-2009, 05:50 AM
Some interesting news connected with the WW I, honorable ladies and gentlemen. Please, just follow this link – further comments are completely superfluous:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1098904/Secret-Lusitania-Arms-challenges-Allied-claims-solely-passenger-ship.html

It is hardly a surprise to find out that the Lusitania was carrying contraband - the cargo manifest (http://www.lusitania.net/deadlycargo.html) published at the time in the American press says as much, making it an entirely legitimate target. Some of these items have also previously been salvaged from the wreck - the image below is of a fuse for a 4.5" shell previously salvaged from the wreck.

http://www.lusitania.net/images/fuze.jpg

Frankly, the only relevant question is why they think this is in some way news!

Rising Sun*
01-01-2009, 06:00 AM
Frankly, the only relevant question is why they think this is in some way news!

Perhaps because it performs the useful, but invariably post-war, function of challenging hysterical wartime propaganda with dispassionate fact and analysis.

pdf27
01-01-2009, 06:19 AM
But it was done in the American press at the time, and an awful lot of times since (such as the dive in the early 1980s when that fuse above was recovered).
Frankly, this looks to me like an ego-trip on the part of the guy running the current dive.

Rising Sun*
01-01-2009, 06:27 AM
But it was done in the American press at the time,

I'm not sure that we might not be at cross purposes here.

Are you talking about the time of the sinking or some other time?

pdf27
01-01-2009, 08:02 AM
Details of some of the contraband were in the US press immediately after the Lusitania was sunk.

Cuts
01-01-2009, 02:31 PM
But it was done in the American press at the time, and an awful lot of times since (such as the dive in the early 1980s when that fuse above was recovered).
Frankly, this looks to me like an ego-trip on the part of the guy running the current dive.

Who's running it ?

pdf27
01-01-2009, 05:59 PM
Who's running it ?

From the article, "Gregg Bemis, an American businessman who owns the rights to the wreck and is funding its exploration".

Librarian
01-01-2009, 06:53 PM
However, factual researchers are Mr. Colin Barnes (described as an transplanted Englishman) and his divers.

Additional story, honorable ladies and gentlemen, as well as some fresh snapshots taken by Connie Kelleher are available here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97350149&sc=emaf

Cuts
01-02-2009, 04:09 AM
Many thanks to both of you.

Librarian
01-02-2009, 03:23 PM
Oh, not at all, my dear Mr. Cuts. I'm glad you found it useful.:)

Cojimar 1945
01-04-2009, 01:24 AM
Do people think the passengers on the Lusitania knew that the ship was carrying arms? If not then they might have reason to be very angry.

pdf27
01-04-2009, 04:30 AM
Only if they were given an assurance that it was not carrying arms (incredibly unlikely given that they were listed on the manifest!). It was a British flagged merchant ship in time of war - carrying weapons as cargo is not unreasonable.

Librarian
01-05-2009, 02:39 PM
Nevertheless, the most important issue in this utterly sad story is a final, fact-based, completely scientific repudiation of a very popular and still vivid, formally issued myth that this large passenger liner was absolutely not used to transport ammunition:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C0CE1D81338E633A25752C3A9639C94 6496D6CF

Furthermore, the Right Honorable John Charles Bigham, 1st Viscount Mersey, the Wreck Commissioner of the Crown, and the Head of the Inquiry conducted by the British Board of Trade panel, officially declared that certain direct claims regarding factual existence of ammunition in the lower compartments of the ship were only sad examples of predatory accusations, committed by certain avaricious characters.

Here is that famous statement:


One witness, who described himself as a French subject from the vicinity of Switzerland, and who was in the second-class dining-room in the after part of the ship at the time of the explosion, stated that the nature of the explosion was "similar to the rattling of a maxim gun for a short period," and suggested that this noise disclosed the "secret" existence of some ammunition. The sound, he said, came from underneath the whole floor.

I did not believe this gentleman. His demeanour was very unsatisfactory. There was no confirmation of his story, and it appeared that he had threatened the Cunard Company that if they did not make him some immediate allowance on account of a claim which he was putting forward for compensation, he would have the unpleasant duty of making his claim in public, and, in so doing, of producing "evidence which will not be to the credit either of your Company or of the Admiralty." The Company had not complied with his request.

However, today we do know for sure that those claims about truthful non-existence of ammunition were complete fabrications. That's all.

pdf27
01-05-2009, 03:28 PM
For what it's worth, the secondary explosion was most likely a coal dust explosion from the nearly empty bunkers - coal dust is actually highly explosive in some circumstances, and IIRC there is some damage to the wreck consistent with this.

It is also entirely plausible that the claims were indeed ficticious - an explosion like the "rattling of a maxim gun" is not very consistent with any form of explosion, including small arms ammunition cooking off. It would also serve a useful propaganda purpose for the British to publically deny the less plausible statements to give the impression that the Lusitania was innocent (at least in wartime - they were clearly using it to try to drag the US in on the side of the UK).

Cojimar 1945
01-05-2009, 03:47 PM
I was under the impression that the sinking of the Lusitania was held by France, Britain and others on that side as an example of German barbarism. However, if the Lusitania was a legitimate military target than wouldn't using its sinking as an example of German villainy be unfounded? Obviously war is brutal but even in war some actions such as those undertaken by the Japanese and Germans in the 1930s and 40s are not condoned. Do people feel Germany violated any laws of war in sinking the Lusitania?

Librarian
01-06-2009, 08:37 PM
For what it's worth, the secondary explosion was most likely a coal dust explosion from the nearly empty bunkers - coal dust is actually highly explosive in some circumstances, and IIRC there is some damage to the wreck consistent with this.

Yes, I have heard about that theory suggested by renowned Mr. Robert Ballard. And without any doubt that second, much larger internal explosion, was the factual cause of Lusitania’s rapid sinking, although the cause of that explosion has never been definitely established. Mr. Ballard has concluded that:

…The torpedo likely ripped open the ship at one of the starboard coal bunkers, nearly empty at the end of the transatlantic crossing. The violent impact kicked up clouds of coal dust, which when mixed with oxygen and touched by fire becomes an explosive combination. The resulting blast, the reported second explosion, ripped open the starboard side of the hull and doomed the ship.

Alas, although it sounds completely plausible, some more meticulously undertaken scientific investigations are nullifying its validity.

You see, my dear Mr. Pdf 27, for a coal dust explosion to occur certain basic physical elements must be in attendance, namely:


- Presence of dry coal dust suspended in the air and stirred up to the point that is uniformly mixed or concentrated in the air volume;

- Adequate air supply with sufficient oxygen levels;

- Confinement of the homogenous coal dust suspension in a storage, aeration duct, tunnel, etc;

- Source of ignition, capable to ignite an homogenous mixture of air and coal dust (an electrical arc from a electrical device, static electricity, open flame source like cigarette lighter or lit cigarette, metal sparks, lightning, broken incandescent light bulb, etc.).


Putting aside this time otherwise highly intriguing question of specific coal type used by the ship on that coursed trip (it was known and described in specialized literature that certain sorts of coal - like Cardiff anthracite – although highly calorific and truly excellent as a ship fuels were indeed highly prone toward dust forming, thus being much more hazardous in this aspect than, for example, poor quality Javanese lump coal), we will be able to detect curious absence of all previously mentioned critical elements.

Bearing on mind constant and well known presence of so called condensation humidity in the coal storages (4 % to 6% of the total weight of the coal may be moisture!) as well as an massive and immediate irruption of water into the torpedo-damaged lateral coal storage, it is completely incomprehensible how factual formation of the homogenous suspension of coal dust was achieved at all.

Source of the ignition is also completely unknown. Explosion of a torpedo? Impossible – explosion was already over, and turbulently expanding gaseous remnants of explosion were not capable to ignite the coal dust mixture, because there was no time for that highly vital creation of uniform coal dust mixture. Explosion of an incandescent light bulb? Hardly – coal storages were not alighted by bulbs at all! Perhaps cigarette? But who was able to smoke in a closed coal storage?

Furthermore – during a major coal dust explosion, there are always two separate explosive phases – primary and secondary explosions. The first explosion creates a shock wave which stirs up layered dust. After that comes the flame front, which ignites the airborne dust as its progresses through a structure. Although primary and secondary explosions frequently are so close together that they may be heard as one explosion, or a series of explosions, once initiated a continuous series of explosions always occurs as long as sufficient amounts of fuel and confinement are present. On the other hand, all those explosions do have one common characteristic – they are almost smokeless! And we do have that notorious statement of the German U-boat commander, captain Schwieger, which declares that …An extraordinary heavy detonation followed, with a very large cloud of smoke (far above the front funnel).

I really dont know, my dear mr. Pdf 27, what the factual couse of that huge explosion really was, but it seems to me that the coal dust theory possesses some intrinsic failures…

However, It seems to me that torpedo-invoked ignition of the spontaneously emitted gaseous coal hydrocarbonates (an old and very well known, but sadly neglected phenomenon described by the National Fire Protection Association, in its publications NFPA 850 and 120!) is much more credible reason for that ill-fated second explosion!


It is also entirely plausible that the claims were indeed ficticious - an explosion like the "rattling of a maxim gun" is not very consistent with any form of explosion, including small arms ammunition cooking off.

Indeed, my dear Mr. Pdf 27. From my personal experience (:army:), I do know very well that some kind of a… metallic popcorn popping is the most satisfying acoustic description of a spontaneous, fire-caused ammunition discharge. However, it is obvious that careful examination of that previously mentioned claim was not undertaken, although various more detailed interrogations of the witness by means of exposure of the aforesaid observer to sounds of multiplied phase-shifted cascade metronomes - at least theoretically! – was capable to ascertain factual character of those echoes and to finally determine whether those sounds really were reverberations of a factual ammunition discharge or not.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that our techniques of modern scientific exploration will be able to provide completely unambiguous answers to all still unanswered questions connected with this sad historical conundrum.

In the meantime, as always – all the best! :)

pdf27
01-07-2009, 01:46 AM
I was under the impression that the sinking of the Lusitania was held by France, Britain and others on that side as an example of German barbarism.
They were in a massive war with their own survival in doubt. Accordingly they would use ANY excuse to denigrate the Germans and encourage the US to enter the war on their side.


Do people feel Germany violated any laws of war in sinking the Lusitania?
Not as it stood at the time, except insofar as they didn't apply to the "cruiser rules" for attacking merchant shipping the British had tried to hold the rest of the world to. These essentially said that enemy merchant shipping had to be stopped, searched and if found to be carrying contraband could be captured or sunk (after the crew and passengers had been given adequate time to evacuate). While the Emden managed to comply with them, they were heavily weighted in the favour of the bigger navy - the RN in this case - which is why the RN tried to apply these rules to the rest of the world.
If modern-day rules were applied they would probably fail the proportionality test - the number of civilian lives lost being out of proportion to the military advantage gained by stopping the munitions on board.

@ Librarian - I'll check with my brother who is doing a PhD on something very similar to coal explosions at the moment and get back to you...

Cojimar 1945
01-15-2009, 12:29 AM
I know it's a bit off topic but I was wondering if you know what the most accurate figures are for British military casualties in the war? I have seen the number of British military dead given as either 722,785 or 702,410 but it was not clear if this was the number dead from all causes or just combat related deaths. I was wondering if there is a breakdown available according to cause?

Schuultz
01-15-2009, 10:18 AM
I know it's a bit off topic but I was wondering if you know what the most accurate figures are for British military casualties in the war? I have seen the number of British military dead given as either 722,785 or 702,410 but it was not clear if this was the number dead from all causes or just combat related deaths. I was wondering if there is a breakdown available according to cause?

Well, when you say British, do you mean from the English Isles, or the entire Commonwealth?

Cojimar 1945
01-15-2009, 10:45 AM
Just the English Isles.

pdf27
01-15-2009, 12:26 PM
Best bet is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org). If they can't help, maybe try the Public Record Office at Kew.

Schuultz
01-15-2009, 03:26 PM
Best bet is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org). If they can't help, maybe try the Public Record Office at Kew.

But wouldn't the CWGC include all Commonwealth casualties? Or do they have different categories?

pdf27
01-15-2009, 04:00 PM
Their database has details of every single commonwealth casualty, complete with the nationality of the force they served with, their Regiment or Corps, date and place of death and place of burial or memorial (if no known grave). While they are responsible for all commonwealth casualties, it's a fair bet that they have statistics by nationality. The only possible issue is that they may not distinguish between combatant and non-combatant casualties.