16 September 2010

Feedback is Wonderful

I wrote a rather lightweight article yesterday because I felt like ranting and received a wonderful email of corrections and insights as follows courtesy of Bill Woerlee and the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre.


Jamie, I was prompted to view your interesting page through the link placed to the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre. These are always a pleasure to see. I thought I might assist you in some of your comments with some clarification.

1. The "Elliott" alleged charge at Beersheba photograph displayed at the top of your page has been properly analysed and found to be of another event. The only person who publicly defends the Elliott claim is Ian Jones for what ever reasons he has. You will see two entries on the ALHSC site debunking the claims to this photograph: part 1 and part 2

However, the Elliott photograph claim is one of those Zombie myths that refuse to die regardless of how many times one kills it.

2. Billy Grant. In the movies he is treated wonderfully both in Chauvel's 40,000 Horsemen and Wincer's The Lighthorseman. As with all things, myth and reality parted ways when the first shots were taken for the movies. Grant was not the modest man who faded away as a grazier as you have sentimentally portrayed him. Quite the contrary. His ego was such that he took credit for things that did not belong to him. The charge was one item. The planning and orders were delivered by Col Cameron, CO 12th LHR who had done this sort of thing in South Africa with great success. When Grant claimed all the kudos for the charge, Cameron was mighty upset and a hatred built up between the two of them which lasted many decades. The result of this egotism gave Grant charge of the most pivotal part in the invasion of Jordan in April 1918. His role was to secure the communications links with the invasion force to the Jordan Valley. When the Turks fired the first artillery rounds, he up and ran off leaving his whole brigade in disarray. So bad was it that Chauvel could not find Grant so he appointed another field commander to rescue whatever could be saved. The result was the loss of the only artillery battery during the Palestine campaign and the aborting of the invasion to Jordan and nearly the loss of a full Australian mounted division of 5,000 men. Grant couldn't be sacked because of the publicity given to him about Beersheba so he was never given any responsibility again while remaining the titular commander of the 4th Light Horse Brigade. The reason why Grant faded away is because his antics as a commander had been exposed in the post war era so by 1930 he had lost any credibility as a participant in the major events. Chauvel's letters of the late 20's regarding him basically state that Grant is a liar whose testimony is not to be trusted. You couldn't get a better endorsement than that.
I suspect the role would be better suited to Mel Gibson.



I replied to the above as follows:


Thank you for the additional history. I will do a follow up on the blog tomorrow with your added insights if you would like to check back. Whenever legend and truth come into conflict I prefer the truth. Strangely enough I think it would make an even better movie as the truth. Just as Lawrence of Arabia was a better movie because of the flaws in the man, then Beersheba as a major epic would be better with warts and all on General Grant.
As to Mel Gibson or Hugh Jackman: Mel has lost me for good and for purely selfish reasons I would rather look at Hugh. Maybe we could cast Russell Crowe and Hugh as rivals for the glory.  You have to admit the acting opportunities would be wonderful.

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