"The Charge of the Light Horse at Beer-sheba". A hand-coloured print of the famous photograph ...

Accession Number P05380.001
Collection type Photograph
Object type Colour - Print hand coloured black & white
Maker Colarts Studio
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made c.1921
Conflict Period 1920-1929
First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


"The Charge of the Light Horse at Beer-sheba". A hand-coloured print of the famous photograph said to depict the charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba on the 31 October 1917, taken by a Turk whose camera was captured later in the day. An enquiry undertaken with the object of establishing its authenticity revealed that it was probably taken when this brigade staged near Belah, in or about February 1918, a representation or reenactment of the charge for the official cinematographer Frank Hurley. This hand-coloured print was produced by Colarts Studio, also known as the Colograph-Art Company. Colarts was the contractor to the Australian War Memorial for producing photographic prints for sale to the public after the war. The studio produced enlargements, intended for framing, and toned and hand-coloured prints. Joynt also collected soldier photographs, from which he produced, exhibited, and sold similar coloured enlargements. Colarts was owned by Capt. William D. Joynt, V.C. Colarts Studio operated at 98 Albert St, Windsor, Melbourne, then 447-9 Law Courts Place, Melbourne. The entry for this print in Colart's catalogue of soldier photographs carried the following caption: "An actual photograph of the most dashing and memorable charge during the whole of the Palestine campaign. A modern 'Charge of the Light Brigade.' The Light horsemen were not armed as cavalry, but only had rifles and bayonets, their function being to use their horses for greater mobility only, and to fight dismounted as Infantry; but the order came to them to charge the Turkish trenches, and, under General Grant (a Queenslander), they obeyed orders. Cheering and shouting, the three long lines of magnificent horsemen went charging over the desert - with not a vestige of cover to protect them from the withering fire of Turkish rifles and machine guns. Some drew their bayonets and flourished them in the air like swords. The moral effect on the Turks of those audacious 'Cavalry', as they took them to be, with the cold steel flashing in the rays of the evening sunset, was too much for their nerves - they couldn't aim straight. The horsemen came thundering on and galloped right over their trenches, and in a few minutes had captured Beersheba - an important tactical position held strongly by the Turks. The position outflanked Gaza, the Key to Palestine. Pressing on, the British Infantry (those wonderful foot sloggers), helped by Australian Light Horse further on, had soon turned the Turk out of Gaza, and the way to open Jerusalem and the delivery of the Holy City was open. This was General Allenby's first big battle in the East. Twice had the British attacked Gaza under General Murray, and both times failed terribly, and here, in one blow, his successor, with hardly any loss, succeeded - not so much by heavy fighting as by good tactics. Driving up in his car immediately after the capture of Beersheba, General Allenby jumped out, and shaking General Grant by the hand, congratulated him, and presented him forthwith with the Bar to the D.S.O." This print was made in Colarts' Windsor studio. Joynt's collection of soldier photographs was later acquired by the Memorial.