Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another October Light Horse Charge

Battle of Beersheba on October 31st, 1917

The Austrians and Turks held a fort and a 800 Aussie Mics rode across 6 kilometers of bare desert in an attempt to capture it.

I love this scene. For starters, I always love it when a filmmaker gets 800 horses together rather than 8000 digitally rendered copies of one guy on a horse

Second I love it when a filmmaker takes the time highlight true historical 'tidbits' that played importantly in the outcome of the battle. In the film they take the time to show the Turks failing to readjust their sights from 1600 meters to something lower when the Aussies got closer. Leaving the sights cranked resulted in the Turks shooting 3 meters over the heads of their targets.

Some people label this 'the last successful cavalry charge in history' while others claim it isn't even a cavalry charge at all.

In military parlance, not everyone who has a horse is cavalry. People who were to ride horses to battle and dismount (Mounted Infantry) weren't cavalry. Of course, that would make things too simple. There were groups that started out as mounted infantry and who later began training for mounted combat, making them 'half cavalry half mounted infantry'

Then there are groups like the Dragoons, who started out as mounted infantry and then developed along the lines of 'half cavalry' but were generally used to counter true heavy cav. Of course, they didn't have the training of true heavy cav, and were burdened by short rifles and ammunition, etc, but not nearly the same amount of armor. Dragoons never measured up vs Heavy Cavalry. Plus there was a big pay difference and social standing difference. In many places, Dragoons retained the name but stepped into the role of heavy or light cavalry...and got the pay and perks that came with it.

Of course the Brits did just the opposite. To cut costs in 1746 the Brits retired their true heavy cavalry and true light cavalry and renamed them as light dragoons and heavy dragoons. Hence even in the 'Charge of the Light Brigade' it wasn't true cavalry who were making the charge, creating a strong parallel between the 'Light Brigade' and the Australian '4th Light Horse Brigade' depicted in this film.

Of course, they stand in opposition because the charge by the 4th Light Horse was planned taking current intelligence reports into account...and it didn't turn into a disastrous failure. (There are some strong parallels between the Oct 25th charge and Gallipoli however)

Plus I like that it is Austria vs Australia.

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