David J. Delaney

David J. Delaney: Taking of Beersheba

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: Awarded November 22, 2008
Awarded November 22, 2008

What eleven crusades through history were unable to achieve
Nor the victory, Napoleon had hoped to receive
Fifty thousand British fought bravely, alas they were forced back
Then Eight hundred Australians took Beersheba on horseback.

The world’s youngest nation would now free the oldest
Beersheba, Jerusalem, Israel, fell to Aussie boldness
These brave boy volunteers from the vast outback
Wearing proudly that Emu feathered slouch hat.

Light horse infantry, not cavalry, as thought by some
Their qualifications; they could ride and shoot a gun
Many were younger than eighteen years of age
Accepted after lying on the application page.

Over four thousand troops protected Beersheba’s line
Our boys had to go; even the horses knew ‘twas time
The attack was led by the fourth and twelfth light horse
They had to take Beersheba, there was no other course.

Bridles jingling with thirsty horses in jittery anticipation
Young men sitting tall in the saddle, the pride of our nation
Feet firmly placed in stirrups, they sat waiting for the call
To charge Beersheba, man and horse giving their all.

Starting at a trot, artillery formation onto open land
These horsemen with bayonets clenched firmly in hand
Tugging reins tight, now their horses’ smelling water
Holding for the moment as yet this pace can’t alter.

Echo’s of “Charge”, their “Walers” now galloping at pace
Adrenalin pumping riding, under fire in open space
Earth vibrating from consistent rumbling
Thousands of hooves, deafening, thundering.

Horses so swift no need for spiked spur
Through bullets, smoke, ‘n’ smell of sulphur
Deadly shells exploding, deafening sound
Cascading shrapnel onto this bloodied holy ground.

British artillery now firing on Turkish defences
Pressing on they soon engage enemy trenches
Yelling ‘n’ screaming, including our Aussie coo-ee
Fearing defeat, the frightened Turkish they flee.

Four hundred year reign ended for Beersheba and Israel
God’s hands were guiding, how could it fail?
Seemed like he had this battle already assessed
Genesis: 12 “Those who bless Israel will be blessed”.

History recorded, these eight hundred light horsemen
Taking Beersheba with a loss of thirty one countrymen
Their reputation grew throughout the holy land
Reaching Jerusalem, the enemy fled to the desert sand.

New Zealand mounted rifles, British Yeomanry brigades
First, Third and Eleventh light horse, all deserve accolades
I know I can’t acknowledge all involved in this campaign
So read their stories, accomplishments, trials and pain.

On ANZAC Day, gathered beside this ancient well
Reliving 31st October, a proud story to tell
Heroic men of the Australian desert mounted corps
Your brave deeds remembered, forever in our thoughts.

When, is a battle’s won, really a win?
Ask a soldier whose nightmares still live within
Or the heartbreak a mother feels when reading that letter
Knowing she has lost her dear son forever.

Our leaders sit debate or preamble
Like the roll of dice, any campaign is a gamble
Night-time in warm beds, away from war’s strife
Are they truly remorseful, condemning a soldier’s life.

Lest we Forget