Armidale Gaza Depot opens to honour 100 years since charge at Beersheba

OPEN DAY: Gaza Depot History Room Manager Doug Lennox will honour the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba with an open day today.
OPEN DAY: Gaza Depot History Room Manager Doug Lennox will honour the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba with an open day today.

One hundred years ago today, an astonishing moment in the ANZAC story is remembered. 

Many only dimly remember the heroics of Beersheba, possibly the last great cavalry charge, probably Australia’s first great military victory.

To remember the bravery, Armidale’s Gaza Training Depo will today open its doors to the community. 

“We’re remembering the people that were killed in that charge, which was 22,” Depot History Room Manager Doug Lennox said.

“Although not all of the Light Horsemen in this region might not have been in the charge of Beersheba, they would have been at Beersheba.”

Mr Lennox said today will also be an opportunity to honour a former Walcha-born soldier, who enlisted in Armidale.

“At the same time, we’ll be honouring a soldier that doesn’t have a gravesite,” he said.

His name was Ernest Henry Gardiner who, along with his brother William Charles Gardiner, fought in the 12th Light Horse Regiment in the First World War.

“His great nephew was doing family history and found out Mr Gardiner was cremated with his ashes thrown in the bush,” Mr Lennox said.

“There was no indication of any marked grave.

“So we want to do something to honour him (today) as he and his brother were both in the charge of Beersheba.”

Mr Lennox said today was also an opportunity for the community to take a look through the Depot’s history museum.

“Some of the memorabilia goes back to the 1880s,” he said.

“We’ve got other stuff here that’s older than that too, memorabilia from one of the ex-members.”

The open day will commence today (Tuesday) at 6:00pm for viewings of the history room.

At 7:00pm the dedication of the plaque will be held among the old war machinery.

“We’ll have a barbecue after with tea and coffee available,” he said.

On Saturday, November 4 the community is invited to a Remembrance Service which will be held at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Armidale.

Commencing at 12 noon, the official guest will be the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

“We have a guidon (flag) which has our battle honours and it will be on show during the service,” he said.

“When they get too old to be paraded we lay them up in a church and they fade away like the old soldiers.

“They stay there forever and a day.”

A plaque will also be unveiled for the guidon to explain its relevance to the 12th Light Horse Regiment.