The thunder of horses’ hooves, riders with swords drawn roaring as they galloped towards the gathering at the Tabulam Memorial evoked a tiny glimpse of that mighty last great cavalry charge by the 4th and 11th Light Horse at Beersheba late in the afternoon of 31 October 1917.
Led by Tenterfield Mayor Peter Petty, the troop of 15 riders and their horses provided the highlight of what was an extraordinary tribute to local hero Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel, who was in command of the Desert Mounted Corps and led the charge which proved to be a major turning point in the First World War.
The afternoon, organised by Grafton RSL Sub Branch president Brian Bultitude supported by Kyogle Council and the Tabulam community, was guided by local resident Janet Flanagan.
Following a very moving Welcome to Country by Poppy Harry Mundine, a number of speakers addressed the 300 or so who had gathered to witness the re-enactment. These included Kevin Hogan MP, Member for Page, the Hon Thomas George MP, Member for Lismore, Councillor Earl Grundy representing Kyogle Council, Dr Richard Chauvel, descendant of Sir Harry Chauvel and Jim Hamilton on behalf of the local 10th Light Horse Troop. Dennis Scanlan added some of his evocative verse to the atmosphere.
Following the re-enactment, local historian Ross Wilkinson pieced together the day as it would have unfolded for the 800 Australians and their thirsty horses.
“It was an honour to be involved in this event”, said Mayor Peter Petty.
“It is difficult to imagine the hardships faced by the men and horses of the Desert Mounted Corps as they fought their way across the desert. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude and events such as this go some way to ensuring they are never forgotten”.
Deputy Mayor Don Forbes, Councillors Brian Murray, Greg Sauer, Michael Petrie, Bob Rogan and Bronwyn Petrie together with Chief Executive Terry Dodds travelled down to represent Tenterfield Shire Council and were very moved by the event.
Some 150 riders set off from Tabulam on Wednesday morning for a Memorial Ride from Tabulam to Copmanhurst.