The legend of the Light Horse lives on

October 25, 2017

Major General Greg Garde when he was commanding 4/19 Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment in Melbourne.

SHORTLY the world will celebrate the last cavalry charge in military history.

Not only did this charge write the Australian Light Horse into history, it also ensured a local Nanneella man would always be remembered.

The Charge of Beersheba in the First World War is recognised as one of the finest moments in international cavalry history.

Beersheba Day, October 31, marks that momentous moment in WWI when impossible odds were overcome and the legend of the Light Horse was born.

The 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment played a pivotal role in that operation and two Nanneella men, Captain George Rankin and Lieutenant Norman Rae, were lead players with the Light Horse.

Indeed, Captain Rae was awarded the Military Cross for his courage under intense fire during the operation.

Both Rankin and Rae were members of the 17th (Campaspe Valley) Light Horse troop based in Rochester when war was declared and were among the first to enlist in the First Australian Imperial Force.

Of the 20 men from Rochester who enlisted at that time not all would join the Light Horse but all played their part in a tumultuous period and three failed to return home.

A special dedication of a new war memorial at Nanneella Soldiers Memorial Hall is planned for Sunday, October 29 at 2pm to mark this special occasion.

The Nanneella Hall was dedicated in 1921 as a memorial to soldiers of WWI but no specific memorial was ever located there.

A further honour board was constructed after the Second World War but this occasion will enable formal commemoration ceremonies to be held at a specific memorial.

Plans are well developed to mark this event where the Guest of Honour will be Major General Greg Garde, AO, RFD, the former Assistant Chief of Defence Force (Reserves) and now the Honorary Colonel of the 4/19 Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment — a successor of the 17th Light Horse Regiment of WWI.

Many descendants of those who enlisted from Nanneella are expected to be present including numerous members of the extended Rae family.

A joint collaboration between the Nanneella Timmering Heritage Group and the Rochester Historical and Pioneer Society will see all men on the WWI honour roll who did not return being honoured with a photographic display.

Sally Sampson from the hall committee is coordinating this project.

“This is exciting and I can feel the emotions starting to surge as I continue to hear inspirational stories from some of the descendants,’’ she said.

‘‘Having them come to Nanneella is a huge privilege for us all.’’

Sally’s excitement is shared by Rochester RSL president John Glover.

“Not many new memorials are built these days and the opportunity to honour those who gave their all a century ago is very special,’’ he said.

‘‘This memorial is not only about WWI, though; it honours all from the Nanneella district who have served in every conflict.

‘‘I encourage as many as possible to attend so that these gallant men and women can receive their rightful recognition.”

Members of the public wishing to attend may record their interest with Sally Sampson (0408 826 966) or John Glover (0416 180 820).

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