Frank Massie, his map of the Charge at Beersheba and the Bednall Papers

 

Continued

In the days following the action, Massie, a meticulous recorder of events and detail in the regimental war diary, produced a sketch map of the Australian formations as they were formed for the attack on the town. Massie’s good work was noticed, and he was seconded to the 4th Light Horse Brigade’s Headquarters in February 1918.

 

Sections of the Bednall Papers reproduced here take over the story:

"After we were back in Australia, I had the map framed and at the urgent request of Hugh Wright, who was the then Librarian of the Mitchell Library, passed it over and it was hung in their big upstairs gallery. I obtained a photostat and have now examined it closely.

 

Massie's explanatory notes were about 22 alphabetical references, and I am enclosing a copy as they give details of practically every action taken by the regiment during the charge. You will see that I am the only officer named by him.

 

I think this is because we were the only troop that got though the grouped trenches without encountering barbed wire, and so we were well ahead of all the others. I can give further details later but our fast going was really due to my mare, a most intelligent animal, insisting following a small track, which must have been used by the Turkish patrols going out and returning and refused to leave it. So the charge was led by a beautiful bay mare and one troop of the 12th and was very definitely the first Australians in the town. Actually, I did not see any of our officers until after dark and Massie's notes show where they all were ..."  - Captain Aubrey Abbott, 12th Light Horse

"Our fast going was really due to my mare, a most intelligent animal, insisting following a small track, which must have been used by the Turkish patrols going out and returning and refused to leave it. So the charge was led by a beautiful bay mare and one troop of the 12th"  - Captain Aubrey Abbott, 12th Light Horse

A small section of Frank Massie's sketch map, showing the start positions of the whole Brigade as they commenced the charge. The original map is held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.

See the detailed map here.