Sir Harry’s Foreword to ‘Australia in Palestine’, edited by Henry Gullett and Charles Barrett, published in 1919 by W.C. Penfold & Co.: Sydney, is a collection of stories, images, and poems from various contributors.

 

“Australia in Palestine" should prove of great interest to the people of Australia, and especially to those whose lives have been spent outside the great cities, for it includes a record of the achievements of their " very own"—the horsemen of Australia, and of the Flying Corps and the Anzac Section of the Imperial Camel Corps, which were recruited from them, and co-operated with them in the greatest war yet known to history.

The Australian Light Horseman—and under this name I include the Field and Signal Engineers and Medical Services connected with him, who come from the same stock—is of a type peculiarly his own and has no counterpart that I know of except in his New Zealand brother. His fearlessness, initiative and endurance, and his adaptability to almost any task, are due to the adventurous life he leads in his own country, where he has been accustomed to long hours in the saddle, day and night, and to facing danger of all sorts from his earliest youth. Perhaps these qualities are inherited from his pioneer parents. His invariable good humour under the most adverse conditions comes from the good-fellowship and camaraderie which exists in the free and open life of the Australian Bush. His chivalry comes from the same source, and it is one of his strongest points. In other words, the life he has been accustomed to lead has fitted him to become, with training and discipline, second to no cavalry soldier in the world.

 

As far as Australia is concerned, the Palestine Campaign may be said to have commenced with the crossing of the Suez Canal by the Anzac Mounted Division at Kantara on the 23rd April, 1916, to re-occupy Romani and the western end of the Katia Oasis Area. The mounted troops of Australia and New Zealand had already proved their extraordinary adaptability to circumstances as infantrymen in the hard school of Gallipoli, but it yet remained for them to show their value as cavalry. The occupation of Romani was followed by long and trying marches in the Desert of Sinai, during the hottest summer known in Egypt for many years, after an elusive enemy who did not appear in any force until July, 1916, when he advanced on Romani preparatory to his second attack on the Suez Canal. The disastrous defeat inflicted on the Turkish arms at Romani, and the pursuit which followed, not only demonstrated the inestimable value of the horsemen of Australasia as cavalrymen, but opened the way for the advance to the Eastern Frontier of Egypt which ended the enemy's menace to Egypt. The systematic advance of the British Force from Romani to the Egyptian Border was covered by Australian and New Zealand horsemen, British Yeomanry and the Imperial Camel Corps, ably assisted by the reconnaissance of the R.F.C. and Australian Flying Corps. The victories of Magdhaba and Rafa completely cleared the enemy from Egyptian territory and opened the way for our advance into Palestine. The operations which began with the capture of Beersheba and concluded with the capture of Damascus and Aleppo, and eventually led to the complete surrender of the Turkish Forces, are dealt with in this volume, and I will say no more of them than that the brilliant part in those operations played by the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops has more than upheld the reputation they established on the battlefield of Romani.

 

The splendid record of the 1st Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps speaks for itself. It was formed in Egypt and has grown with the campaign to a state of efficiency which places it second to none of the same arm.

 

The casualties in action in this campaign have been light compared with the results achieved. In a very large measure this was due to the dash of the troops, which saved heavy losses on many occasions; but many brave fellows have given their lives through diseases contracted in areas which the exigencies of the service required to be occupied and fought in.

 

Before concluding, I would like to say a word for the Medical Services, which have endured the same hardships as the combatant arms, and always performed their duties cheerfully and efficiently under the most adverse conditions.

 

H.G. Chauvel