The Lighthorse Today – and our forebears
Reflections by Major Duncan Munro at the Beersheba Commemoration Event
Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance, on 31 Oct 2017
I have been asked to address you today as we honour the sacrifice of the Lighthorse of yesterday, and to provide an insight into the Lighthorse of today.
As an Army Reserve officer, I have had the honour of serving with both full-time and part-time soldiers and officers on operations and in training. I have studied our military’s past battles, examined their tactics, bisected the complexity of campaigns and been awed by accounts of individual courage, innovation and sacrifice by the service men and women who served before me. And one element always present was Honour.
Battle Honours are awarded to a unit and embroidered on the unit’s Guidon or Standard. Guidons and Standards are banners with strong symbolism which historically served as a rallying point on the battlefield. They were traditionally defended passionately on the battlefield and are now held in strong reverence for the sacrifice they represent. The charge and subsequent capture of Beersheba by the 4th and 12th Lighthorse in WW1, resulted in the iconic battle honour emblazoned on the 4th/19th Guidon.
The 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment, of which I am proud to be a serving member, is an amalgamation of several Light Horse units, whose Guidons are a representation of more than 100 years of military service. The current Guidon, presented to the unit last year by Australia’s Governor-General, replaced six previous Guidons bearing battle honours inherited from those founding units. The previous Guidon will be laid up in consecrated ground here at the Shrine later this year after being escorted to the location by the Regiment’s Light Horsemen and women of today. Paying deep respect for the past, the Light Horse of today will be embracing the new Guidon as a symbol to carry forward into the future.
The crowd at the Shrine that Duncan addressed, assembled on 31 October, 2017
The Light Horse today provide protected mobility for troops and deliver a reconnaissance capability deployable in a mounted or dismounted role. Their Cavalry Scouts are the eyes and ears for the Commander, providing up-to-date information to shape the battlespace.
The Light Horse who served at Beersheeba, achieved success at great cost in the face of extreme adversity. These soldiers and officers forged the legend of the Light Horse and created an aspirational standard for all that would follow in their stead. They demonstrated innovation, resilience, courage, determination and honour. Building on this foundation, the Light Horse today are more suitably equipped, receive intensive training and have a wider understanding of the impact of their actions overseas on security here in Australia. Yet their actions and motivations are underpinned by those same values of innovation, resilience, courage and honour.
A guard provided by the Crewick Light Horse carrying 4th Light Horse Regiment penants