• Thousands have turned out for the re-enactment of ANZAC Light Horse charge in Beersheba in 1917. (AAP)
Barry Rodgers, a key figure behind the re-enactment of the ANZAC Light Horse charge at Beersheba, says the horseback parade past crowds is etched in his memory.
Source:
AAP
1 Nov - 8:02 PM 

One hundred Australian men and women riding towards Beersheba a century after the famous Light Horse charge was a poignant moment none of those involved will ever forget.

But a key figure behind the re-enactment, Barry Rodgers, of the Australian Light Horse Association, says their horseback parade through Beersheba earlier that day had been a highlight.

"Tens of thousands (were there)," he told AAP.

"It felt like the whole nation of Israel was lined up to see us ... They were four or five or six deep, all cheering wildly."

Earlier Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked the centenary of the Battle of Beersheba to thank Australia and New Zealand for their two special victories on October 31, 1917.

These battles led to the ousting of the Ottoman Turks and paved the way for the state of Israel, he said.

Mr Rodgers believes that message is sinking in and is part of the reason for the crowds at the parade.

"I saw an elderly gentleman whose face is etched on my mind. Just weeping as he watched our column go by because I think he knew that.

"It was a very special time for us."

The idea for the re-enactment was conceived 10 years ago, partly because the Australian Light Horse Association wants to raise the profile of Australia's Middle East campaign, which they think is sometimes overshadowed by Gallipoli and the Western Front.

"It has been a challenge but it was worth it in the end to have 100 riders in full World War I uniform riding through the desert, following in the footsteps of their forefathers."

He said it was important too that indigenous riders took part in the charge, as their heroic roles in WWI had not always been fully appreciated.

"We just want to focus on the tremendous role that they did play in World War I so that all Australians can feel proud of what these brave indigenous men, these Aboriginal troopers in World War I, did. It was amazing."

The re-enactment was delayed for security reasons as two prime ministers, Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Netanyahu were brought to join the 2000-strong crowd on a hill outside Beersheba.

"But in a sense it was good," Mr Rodgers said because they ended up riding towards Beersheba at almost the same time as the 1917 action, just as the sun was about to go down.

"So it was quite poignant that it was delayed in that sense."

He was in the stand commentating, but there were still butterflies in his stomach, and those of the riders themselves.

"It was a moment we will never forget," Mr Rodgers said.