100 years ago – General Allenby's Farewell Message to the Australian Light Horse - as reported in 'The Queenslander'
To the Australian Mounted Division, comprising the 3rd, 4th,. and 5th Light Horse Brigades and the Anzac Mounted Division, comprising the Ist and 2nd Light Horse Brigades and the New Zealand Brigade.
Special order of the day.
Now that the Australian Mounted Division and the Anzac Mounted Division are leaving my command, I wish to express to all ranks my admiration of, and gratitude for, the work they have done.
The units comprising these divisions, landing in Egypt after gallant service in Gallipoli, have been constantly engaged with the enemy since the formation of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, and have taken part in all the victories won.
In the advance through the Sinai desert, the capture of Beersheba, the pursuit of the enemy which ended in the taking of Jerusalem, the operations in the Jordan Valley, in the mountains to the east of the Jordan, and the final defeat and pursuit of the Turkish army in September and October, 1918, the Australian and: New Zealand troops have been always in the forefront.
They have borne with cheerful endurance the thirst and the-glare of the desert, the heat and dust of the Jordan Valley, and the fatigue of long and exhausting marches. They have responded to every call, and. have fully-earned the welcome which will reward them on their long deferred return to their homes.
I send them my congratulations, my thanks, and best wishes.
(Signed) Edmund H. Allenby,
(copy received by Brigadier Grant and published in The Queenslander 6 Sep 1919)
Australian War Memorial: General Allenby congratulating Staff Quartermaster Sergeant D Michael, of the 1st Australian Light Horse, after having decorated him with the Military Medal (note Sir Harry Chauvel, foreground, second from left).
Gullet re: General Allenby’s farewell Order to Troops
General Allenby had not said much to the Light Horse or New Zealanders since the Surafend incident before Christmas. But now, six months later, the troops were finally departing for home and they deserved his thanks and best wishes……When this perceived slight was drawn to his attention by Henry Gullett, Allenby responded, as Gullett recorded:
He issued at once a glowing and appreciative farewell order to the Australians, and at the same time wrote personally a tribute to their work in Palestine which is remarkable for its discernment of their distinctive qualities. This letter read as follows:
"I knew the New South Wales Lancers and the Australian Horse well in the Boer War, and I was glad to meet some of my old friends of those days when the light horse came under my command just two years ago
"When I took over command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in July, 1917, the light horse were already veterans, tried and proved in many a fight. Since then, they have shared in the campaigns which achieved the destruction of the Turkish army and the conquest of Palestine and Syria, and throughout they have been in the thick of the fighting. I have found them eager in advance and staunch in defence. At Beersheba, a mounted charge by a light horse regiment, armed only with rifles, swept across the Turkish trenches and decided the day. Later, some of the regiments were armed with swords, which they used with great effect in the pursuit of last autumn.
"On foot, too, they have equally distinguished themselves as stubborn fighters. They have shown in dismounted action the dash and enterprise of the best type of light infantry.
"The Australian light horseman combines with a splendid physique a restless activity of mind. This mental quality renders him somewhat impatient of rigid and formal disciple but it confers upon him the gift of adaptability, and this is the secret of much of his success mounted or on foot. In this dual role, on every variety of ground--mountain, plain, desert, swamp, or jungle-- the Australian light horseman has proved himself equal to the best.
"He has earned the gratitude of the Empire and the admiration of the world."
H. S. Gullett, ‘The AIF in Sinai and Palestine’, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 , Vol VII pp 790-791