War’s end for the Light Horse in the Middle East
by John Boyce
The Turks had signed their Armistice, ceasing hostilities at noon 31 October 1918.
When the word came through, the British 5th Cavalry Division had reached Aleppo near the Turkish border, and with it was the 1st Aust Light Car Patrol. The British 4th Cavalry Division was following, halfway from Damascus at Homs, and behind them, the Australian Mounted Division had begun moving up from its capture of Damascus. Whereas the ANZAC Mounted Division had been operating inland along the Jordan valley and were now moving to Jerusalem.
Within days, all the Light Horse were moving to camps along the coast, as the Australian Mounted Division headed to Tripoli and the Anzac Mounted Division to Richon near Jaffa.
They heard of Austria’s Armistice on 5 Nov, then of the German Armistice on 11 November.
It was all over……..
And on the Western Front
Most of the Australian Corps including their corps cavalry, 13th Light Horse Regiment, were already being rested behind the front lines after months of battle.
However, the XXII Mounted Regiment (two squadrons of the old 4th Light Horse Regiment and a NZ squadron) were still in action at the finish, as corps cavalry for the British XXII Corps. For their outstanding work on 10 Nov 1918, two of its lighthorsemen were awarded military honours - a Military Cross and a Military Medal (see note for citations).
They were some of the last Australians to see action in WW1 (as were 2nd Division’s artillerymen supporting US troops, some tunnellers delousing German boobytraps, and aircrew of the Australian Flying Corps).
For some of the 1914 Originals, there was the prospect of rapid processing for homeward-bound ships on a four-week voyage. But for the rest, the news was that they were still looking at another Christmas over there. Repatriation would be sometime in 1919, as and when shipping became available.
But in fact, there were some very eventful months still to come for many in the Light Horse……………
Lt N.S. Lancet, 4 LHR, Recommendation for Military Cross:
For bravery, initiative and devotion to duty. On 10th November 1918 in the vicinity of Sebouquiaux. Sent forward in charge of three patrols to gain information on the enemy, also to take and hold crossing over Aunelle river. Before reaching the river his patrols were held up by enemy machine-gun fire, but Lieutenant Lancet, realising the importance of information being gained of crossing over the river for infantry to cross, managed by great dash and leadership to outmanoeuvre the enemy and compelled them to retire to the East of the river.
He personally made a reconnaissance of the crossing although owing to the nature of the crossing, he was quite exposed to enemy machine guns and snipers. On his return, he obtained the exact position of our infantry and then personally reported to brigade headquarters.
This officer was out on duty every day from 4th to 11th (..unreadable..) and always by his fine leadership and disregard for danger gained information of the utmost value for our infantry.
Sgt G. Vardy, 4 LHR, Recommendation for Military Medal:
During the early part of the day ( 10th November 1918) he successfully reconnoitred enemy positions near Nouvelles, obtaining for the Infantry valuable information which he personally gave to the Company Commanders and Brigade Headquarters.
His work throughout the day was carried out under extremely heavy machine-gun fire and shell fire. When his patrol was held up he gave assistance to the Infantry showing great initiative and resourcefulness. Sergeant Vardy has been patrolling during the whole time of this advance and has shown an utter disregard of danger. He has handled his patrols in such a manner as to have been of the greatest of assistance to the Infantry.
I cannot speak too highly of the work of this NCO.