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Oliver saddled up for grand cavalry charge

By Kyabram Free Press

A SERVICE was held in the Kyabram cemetery on the evening of October 31 to honour and pay tribute to the Australian 4th Light Horsemen who were in the great Cavalry Charge of Beersheba on October 31, 1917.

One of these men, Oliver Thaw, is buried in the Presbyterian section of the Kyabram cemetery. He died 45 years to the day after that famous Charge of Beersheba on October 31, 1962.

Oliver enlisted at the age of 21 in 1914 and served for five years. He served as Sergeant in the 4th Light Horse at Gallipoli, in Egypt and Palestine and took part in the famous Cavalry Charge at Beersheba. For some time he was in hospital in Jericho.

Oliver was born in Scotland and came to Australia with his parents at the age of 17. On his return from the war he married Sylvia Wales in 1920 and took up land at Stanhope, where he was one of the original soldier settlers. He farmed there until he retired to Kyabram in 1953.

Oliver was an active member of both the Stanhope and Kyabram RSLs, a valued director of the Stanhope Dairy Company for 25 years and enthusiastic member of Stanhope and Kyabram Bowling Clubs and Kyabram Golf Club.

The battle of Beersheba was part of the wider British offensive collectively known as the third Battle of Gaza.

The final phase of this all-day battle was the famous mounted charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade.

The 800 light horsemen, six kilometres south-east of Beersheba, had ridden their Australian ‘‘Waler’’ horses through the desert night to get into position for the charge. They would have been tired and dehydrated, and then faced a long wait for their do-or-die moment.

Commencing at dusk, members of the brigade stormed through the Turkish defences and seized the strategic town of Beersheba.

The capture of Beersheba enabled British Empire forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza on November 7 and advance into Palestine.