The Battle of Beersheba 俾什巴戰役

Sat, Nov 04, 2017 - Page 14

Beersheba is located in the Negev desert in what is now southern Israel. An ancient town, it is mentioned in the Bible. The site may have been chosen due to the availability of water there. The very name is thought to mean “Well of the Oath,” from an agreement between Abraham and Abimelech settling an argument over ownership of a well.

Fast forward to 1917 and World War I, before the modern state of Israel was established in the area, and the town of Beersheba was part of the strategic Gaza-Beersheba line in what was then Ottoman Palestine.

British forces, together with Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops, had been fighting the Turks and the Germans in the Negev desert. They knew they had to break through this line, but had already failed twice to take Gaza earlier that year. Beersheba was not as heavily fortified as Gaza.

The Battle of Beersheba was fought on Oct. 31 that year. The British and ANZAC forces knew they would have to take the town by nightfall, otherwise their men and horses would perish from thirst. The battle had been raging for the most part of the day when the decision was made, as the light was starting to fade, for the mounted charge of the ANZAC forces’ 4th Light Horse Brigade directly at the Turkish position. They captured the town, allowing the British forces to break the line on Nov. 7 and advance into Palestine.

It was one of the last great cavalry charges. After this, more advanced weaponry rendered horses obsolete in the military.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

位於今以色列南部內蓋夫沙漠的俾什巴是一座古老的城鎮,在聖經中早有記載。早年居民可能因當地有水源而在此定居。俾什巴的意思是「誓言之井」,據說亞伯拉罕和亞比米勒為井水的擁有權發生爭執,而後達成協議,便成了當地名稱的由來。

把時間撥快,來到一九一七,第一次世界大戰期間,那時以色列尚未成立,俾什巴仍屬鄂圖曼土耳其人所占領的巴勒斯坦,從該區域到加薩都是當時重要的戰線。

當時的英軍與紐澳聯軍在內蓋夫沙漠一同對抗土耳其和德國,企圖攻破土耳其從加薩到俾什巴所布署的戰線,但他們該年已經兩度試圖攻佔加薩失敗。與加薩相較之下,俾什巴的防禦設施較差。

一九一七年十月三十一日是俾什巴戰役的日子。英軍與紐澳聯軍知道他們必須在天黑前攻下這個城鎮,否則軍人與馬匹都會渴死。雙方交戰幾近整天,俾什巴仍久攻不下。隨天色漸暗,紐澳聯軍決定派出第四旅的輕騎兵隊直衝土耳其軍,結果順利攻下城鎮。該役的勝利讓英軍得以在十一月七日進一步突破土耳其的防線,攻入巴勒斯坦。

那是歷史上最後一場騎兵的重要出擊。在那之後,更先進的武器便徹底取代馬匹,從此戰場上不再有騎兵。

(台北時報編譯涂宇安譯)