The dust hung in the air as a troupe of Light Horse enthusiasts re-enacted the Battle of Beersheba in Israel.
The khaki-clad riders, plumes in their hats, trotted their horses for several hundred metres in pale imitation of that furious charge a century earlier.
Watching the “surreal” re-enactment on October 31 was Port Pirie’s Julie Frick.
She said the crowd had remained silent, not taking photographs, until a woman spectator put her hand on her heart and gasped, “Oh, Dad”.
“That broke the spell … it was incredible,” Ms Frick recalled.
Ms Frick made the pilgrimage in honour of her grandfather Walter Frick who was wounded while serving with the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment in a parallel military action at nearby Tel El Sava,
“Grandpa didn’t actually take part in the charge, but he was close by and they had to take the site and there were a lot of entrenched troops and mortars,” she said. “That is where he was badly wounded.”
Ms Frick said the Australians were idolised today by the Israelis for what their ancestors did in a turning point of World War I. “The riders were given commemorative medals. It was a ride for peace. There was an 82-year-old woman in uniform riding a horse and several indigenous participants. The Australian and Israeli flags were flown and the riders and horses cantered back to the start of their parade and came back again,” she said.
“We had our own little group off the to side and, when they pointed to where the 3rd Light Horse came in, there were lots of thoughts that came into your head.
“It was the country they rode over 100 years ago.
“It was a five-hour battle before they took Beersheba at 3pm. I broke down and shed a few tears.
“The poor warrant officer with us didn’t know what to do. How to look after this hysterical woman on the top of a hill in the middle of the desert?”
Russell Martin, of Mambray Creek, paid about $1000 for a uniform to wear while re-enacting the battle. The uniform included jacket, pants, leather leggings, bandolier, boots and hat. He is involved with the Light Horse Association of Australia.
“One hundred of us rode 100 years since the actual ride, one of the last cavalry charges in history,” he said.
“The soldiers would have been pretty easy to train because a lot were bushmen and learned how to ride, look after themselves and navigate by the stars.
“I did a lot of reading about them, but being there ... and the conditions they went through … they were pretty tough and they were at it for so long.”