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Devils on Horses

By: Terry Kinlock (570.14/35748)
Publisher: Exisle Publishing ISBN: 978-0-908988-94-5

Reunited with their horses in Egypt after the shattering experience of Gallipoli (a story recounted in Terry Kinlock’s earlier book, Echoes of Gallipoli), The Anzac mounted riflemen and the light horsemen were initially charged with the defence of the Suez Canal, then with the clearance of the Sinai peninsula, and finally with the destruction of the Turkish armies in Palestine and Syria. At last they could pursue thee style of warfare for which they had been trained on horseback.

The First World War battlefields in the Middle East have long been overshadowed by those of Gallipoli and the Western Front. Yet the story of the mounted riflemen in Sinai and Palestine is a truly fascinating one. Using the soldiers’ original letters and diaries wherever possible, Kinlock vividly describes every battle. Land skirmish in the long campaign against the Turks: the crucial Battle of Romani, the defeats at Bir el Abd, Gaza and Amman, and the successes at Beersheba, Ayun Kara and elsewhere. He explains the reality of tactical operations in the harsh desert environment, the ever-present necessity of securing water for the precious horses and the remorseless tenacity of the enemy. The horses play a major part in the story, but of the thousands of faithful animals involved, only one would ever return home after the war.

Devils on Horses is a gripping read that offers new information about a theatre of war that has been overlooked for decades. Based on original research, it is sure to be the standard reference work on New Zealand’s Middle East campaign for years to come.

February 2008


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