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Australian Light Horse

In Palestine, Hurley found the light horsemen willing subjects for his still and moving cameras. Given two Australian Light Horse squadrons to photograph in Gaza in January 1918, he called the town “the Ypres of Palestine”. Most of Hurley’s light horse images showed either re-enactments or men at rest. Those of the latter suggest something of the nomadic existence led by light horsemen, whose war of constant movement contrasted sharply with the experience of their countrymen on the Western Front.

Panorama of 1st Light Horse Brigade camp
Frank Hurley
1st Light Horse Brigade camp at Esdud, Palestine, 1918
print from Paget plate P03631.245

Torrential rain in Palestine in December 1917 made mounted operations impossible. The 1st and 2nd Light Horse Brigades moved to Esdud, where they could camp on the sand hills above the soaked dark soil of the plains and take their supplies from the nearby railhead.

When taking this panorama, Hurley did not allow sufficient overlap to join the separate images together. The panorama has been constructed by placing each image in the order Hurley intended, but no attempt has been made to join the edges together. Hurley had little chance of holding the horses and men still as he changed the negatives in his camera and moved the camera to the next position. The panorama also covers a large arc, probably more than 180 degrees: if you look at the tents on both ends, you will see the shadows are falling in opposite directions towards the centre of the panorama.

This is the first time this panorama has been printed in colour. It is a digital print, combining five individual Paget plates.

P03631.008
Frank Hurley
Light horsemen in Gaza, Palestine, January 1918
print from Paget plate
P03631.008

P03631.087Frank Hurley
Machine-gunners of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment at Khurbet-Ibn-Harith, Palestine, on 31 December 1917 print from Paget plate
P03631.087

P03631.098
Frank Hurley
Light horsemen behind barricades, Nalin, Palestine, 17 January 1918
print from Paget plate
P03631.098

P03631.070
Frank Hurley
Light horsemen at rest, Esdud, Palestine, 2 January 1918
print from Paget plate
P03631.070