Day 344 of Colourisation Project – April 16
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Divisional armourers had been ordered to sharpen all bayonets.
On October 31, 1917, Lieutenant General, Sir Harry Chauvel, an accomplished horseman and a born cavalry officer, led the charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade against Turkish and German forces, to victory at the famous Battle of Beersheba, a town 34 miles south of Jerusalem. With rifles slung across the backs of soldiers, their only weapons for mounted attack were the bayonets in their hands.
It was to be the last mounted cavalry charge ever conducted in the history of warfare. 32 Australians and more than 70 horses were killed in the charge. Although it has never become part of the national mythology like Gallipoli or the Somme, the charge of the light horse at Beersheba changed the course of the war in the Middle East, forcing the Turks to retreat. It was seen as a major strategic victory in the First World War.
Born this day, 16 April 1865, at Tabulum, New South Wales, General Sir Henry George Chauvel, was one of Australia’s greatest wartime leaders and most decorated military men. A senior officer of the Australian Imperial Force, he served with distinction in the Boer War and the Middle Eastern Sinai and Palestine Campaigns of the First World War.
At the time of the attack on Beersheba, Chauvel was a lieutenant general, the first Australian to attain such a rank, and as commander of the Desert Mounted Corps the first to command an entire Army Corps. In 1929 he became the first Australian to reach the rank of General.
Following the war, Chauvel was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG). He also was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and an Order of the Nile. Though he retired from the Army in April 1930, he took over the post of Inspector General of the Volunteer Defence Corps during the Second World War.
Chauvel frequently led Anzac Day parades through Melbourne and continued to serve Australia until his death on 4 March 1945, just months before the end of the Second World War.
Harry Chauvel was given a state funeral service at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne. Prime Minister, John Curtin who led the tributes described Chauvel as ‘one of the foremost military minds of his generation’. The west wall of St Paul’s Cathedral bears a bronze plaque honouring Chauvel.