Wednesday 11 October 2006 by Mal Booth. 1 comment
Exhibitions, Lawrence of Arabia and the Light Horse, The Light Horse

Leslie Cecil Maygar VC took over command of the 8th Light Horse Regiment at Gallipoli some weeks

after the disastrous charge at the Nek. He led the regiment through the fighting in Sinai in 1916 and at Gaza in the spring of 1917.

On 31 October 1917, for the battle of Beersheba, the 8th Light Horse was placed in reserve. Towards the end of the afternoon, around the time of the 4th Light Horse Brigade’s famous charge, the 8th was ordered back to Chauvel’s Desert Mounted Corps Headquarters where, according to an unpublished history of the regiment held in the Memorial’s Research Centre, it arrived around 5.30pm.

Just then 2 enemy aeroplanes swooped down and as there were very many troops and transport vehicles concentrated there a good target presented itself to them and of which they took full toll. At a very low altitude they bombed and machine gunned men and horses, causing a large number of casualties to our side. Lieutenant Colonel Maygar was seriously wounded by a bomb bursting almost under him, and his horse, also wounded, bolted into the darkness and confusion and we never saw the Colonel again. After much searching his horse was found covered in blood and news was obtained that the Colonel had been got safely to hospital.

In the ranks of the regiment, Corporal Ronald Ross witnessed the events of the day and recorded them in his diary.

31 Wednesday: Off on the Hills of Sheba. Took two redoubts before we could water. Turks retreat and just go again with a train load. Before watering all horses came together at DHQ. Enemy plane dropped two bombs right in among the transport near wireless, killing many and wounding. Our colonel wounded, later losing his arm.

Maygar was sent to the 65th Casualty Clearing Station at Karm where his badly damaged arm was amputated. Major Archibald McLaurin (drawn by George Lambert below), who assumed command of the regiment, explained to Maygar’s brother what happened next.

The Regiment had immediate orders to go out to a certain position and I was unable to see him. We were then attached to another Brigade and were fighting for two days and a night and when we got back I inquired at the Beersheba hospital and was told he was sent back to Karm. We went back there a couple of days later and on arrival there was told he had died. I was told that his arm had been amputated and that he was getting on well. In fact a little before his death he was laughing and joking with the men in the Hospital when a sudden haemorrhage set in and he died shortly afterwards. He was buried near the Hospital at Karm.

Australian War Memorial Research Centre records relating to Maygar’s death:

1DRL/0491 Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Cecil Maygar VC DSO VD, letters

PR00696 Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Cecil Maygar VC DSO VD, letters

PR02016 Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Cecil Maygar VC DSO VD, letters, photograph, postcard, papers

AWM 224 MSS 35 8th Light Horse Regiment History by Capt. T. S. Austin

PR01032 Sgt Ronald Campbell Ross, diaries

Nigel Steel

Comments

Elayne Whatman

Lt. Col. Maygar has become my hero since I first learned of him some 5 years ago. Everytime I pass Maygar Barracks or attend the Broadmeadows Remembrance Memorial I look to the sky and say "Hello Sir". Maybey that sounds childish but then I look to the ground and say "Hello Boys" to all the names on the pavers at the foot of the Memorial. When I conduct services at the Memorial I always include these names and the Lt. Col's. Lt. Col. Maygar is someone many of our present day young people could take and interest in and learn to be like him. His life was cut short in a stand for his country.