• Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (2L) stands with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu as they pose with two Australians. (AFP/Getty)
The rehearsals are over and the site is secure in preparation for the 100-year commemorations of the Australian Light Horse victory at Beersheba, Israel.
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AAP - SBS News

Source:
AAP - SBS Wires
31 Oct - 6:33 PM  UPDATED 31 Oct - 9:21 PM

Standing at the grave of her great-uncle at Beersheba War Cemetery, Anthea Sutherland got visibly emotional.

"It's amazing to be able to come and see your name like this," she told AAP ahead of a joint Australian and New Zealand service marking 100 years since one of the world's last cavalry charges.

William James Munro Edwards was killed on November 3, 1917. 

He was the eldest of four boys, three of whom served in World War I, but he was the only one who did not come home.

His headstone stands in a long row marking the sacrifices of other Australians in the commonwealth cemetery in what is now known as Be'er Sheva, Israel.

Bill Shorten tours Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem

The fourth boy, a doctor and Ms Sutherland's grandfather, died when her dad was four years old.

"I know how much my father would love to have been here, having lost his father at such a young age."

She was among 2000 people, including direct descendants of the charge and riders participating in a re-enactment, at the cemetery to commemorate the October 31, 1917 charge.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu lead a delegation of dignitaries, including ministers Dan Tehan and Josh Frydenberg, Labor MPs Mark Dreyfus and Warren Snowden, and New Zealand Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

Ahead of the formal service, a didgeridoo player welcomed visitors before names of those killed were read out.
More than 1350 Australians died in Middle East campaigns of the First World War.

Members of the Australian Light Horse association wearing World War I uniforms hold their national flag (Getty/AFP)

The Battle of Beersheba is remembered as the last great cavalry charge in military history, with 800 Australians from the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments capturing more than 700 Turkish soldiers.

Australia suffered 31 deaths and 70 horses were killed, while 36 soldiers were wounded.

"In one of the great cavalry charges, the Australian Light Horse attacked the enemy lines defending the town of Beersheba, in what is now Israel," Mr Turnbull said.

The capture of Beersheba led to an opening in the Turkish flank that enabled Allied forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza on November 7 and advance further into Palestine.

Labor leader Bill Shorten, who is also in Israel to attend the commemorations, saluted the soldiers' courage and sacrifice.

"Stockmen, station-hands, ringers and jackaroos, riding on their own horses, mounted the last great cavalry charge in military history," he said.

"In a conflict so often characterised by stalemates and false dawns, this was a decisive victory that recast the campaign in the Middle East."

There will also be a Turkish Soldiers' Memorial Ceremony, a New Zealand Ceremony, a re-enactment of the Charge of the Light Horse followed by a more solemn service at the Park of the Australian Soldier.

eterans Norton Duckmanton (L) and Kevin Kram during commemorations for the centenary of the Australian Light Horse Charge at the Battle of Beersheba (Getty)

The re-enactment will see 100 men and women ride out in replica uniforms and is part of The Australian Light Horse Association tour that has been following the steps of those long-ago troopers through Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

The event has drawn direct descendants of the Light Horsemen including grandchildren, great-nieces and -nephews from indigenous and non-indigenous backgrounds, as well as other Australians who are passionate about the Light Horse and that time in history.

The Prime Minister's address

Mr Turnbull has joined Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to observe the event along with Mr Shorten.

The prime minister has spoken about the stories of bravery and sacrifice among those who served.

"And this battle has become part of our history, part of our psyche, It is an extraordinary episode in our national story," he said.

"Imagine these young men so far from home, out of the Australian Bush, with their own horses, in a completely alien landscape.

"Like the State of Israel has done ever since, they defied history and with their courage they fulfilled history. Lest we forget."