SAPPER BERESFORD GOODSELL, 2ND LIGHT HORSE BRIGADE AIF
Goodsell, a qualified telegraph linesman who was working as a commercial traveller when he enlisted in November 1916, put his technical training to use in the service of the Australian-led mounted campaign in Palestine’s Jordan Valley through 1917 and 1918. Goodsell and his comrades fought over the lands they had studied as schoolboys at compulsory bible classes in far off Australia. In September 1918 the 2nd Light Horse Brigade was part of a force that struck deep into Arab lands, that are today Jordan, and helped destroy the Ottoman 4th Army. On the last days of that month they found themselves in the bizarre situation of standing side-by-side with an armed Turkish garrison surrounded by Bedouin Arabs bent on their destruction. Providing mutual protection the former enemies made their way to safety.
By the time the brigade was allowed to rest, on the coast near Ramla, they had captured 245 Ottoman officers and 4,978 other ranks.
The last days of October were spent swimming in the Mediterranean and exercising their horses in weather that the brigade adjutant described in the unit’s war diary as “delightful”.
On 30 October 1918 the Ottoman Army surrendered aboard the British warship Agamemnon in Mudros Harbour on Lemnos Island. The armistice came to into effect at noon the next day.
SAPPER GOODSELL'S SOUVENIRS
Like so many Australian soldiers before or since Goodsell found time to collect souvenirs. The recent donation of artefacts to the Anzac Memorial by his descendants provide fascinating reminders of that time and the role that Australian light horsemen played in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Sapper Beresford Goodsell’s souvenirs of his service in the Sinai-Palestine campaign in 1918 include an identity bracelet and two Ottoman Army belt buckles. The identity bracelet comprises a disc that is a defaced Ottoman 20 Kurush silver coin inscribed with his name and army number “B Goodsell / 19243” above the abbreviated title of his unit “2nd Sig Sqd / Aus Mtd Div” (2nd Signal Squadron, Australian Mounted Division, AIF) on an open link silver chain with a simple circular spring catch.
The belt buckles tell their own story of a time when the Ottoman Empire was referred to as “the sick man of Europe”.
Desperately trying to modernise for the new century, the Ottoman Empire looked for allies to advise. They chose Germany and much of the uniforms, weapons and field equipment they issued to their troops were designs copied from that of the Kaiser’s army. Both of these belt buckles are based on the 1909 pattern, box-shaped, buckle used by the Germans.
The buckle with the white metal disc stamped with the star and crescent moon, in relief, riveted onto a brass base is likely to have been made in Germany for the Ottoman Army in the early years of the Great War. The text on the crescent moon is in a very florid Ottoman Turkish script and reads “Asaker–i Shahaneh” (Imperial Army).
The other buckle, also box-shaped in the German style, is much more crudely made. It is of all brass construction and has a simple star and crescent moon emblem within a wreath of leaves. The definition of the design is not as sharp as that on the other buckle suggesting that the emblem was sand cast from molten brass rather than stamped in a press created by a highly skilled die maker. This buckle is undoubtedly made in a workshop in Turkey that lacked the sophisticated equipment common to European contractors supplying munitions in the build-up to the Great War.
By the time Turkey was caught in that war the Ottoman Empire had already fought wars in the Balkans and an earlier one against the Italians in Libya. Most of their most experienced soldiers were dead and the reserves of war stores depleted. By 1918 Ottoman troops were dressed in threadbare rags and consistency of their issued uniforms and equipment had long ceased. While Goodsell and his mates were recovering from their arduous campaign in the Jordan River Valley they looked with pity on the destitute army that was surrendering before them.
HOME AND PEACE
Despite the Ottoman surrender it would be many months before Sapper Beresford Goodsell would board a transport for home. The Egyptian Expeditionary Force, of which the Australian light horse, had been part was broken up to provide occupation forces and maintain law and order and basic services as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated around them. The light horsemen who had enlisted in 1914 or had served on Gallipoli in 1915 got precedence and were repatriated early. Goodsell had not embarked until 1917 so he had to wait. He would not disembark at the docks in Sydney until 1 September 1919, almost a year since his Brigade fought their last battles in Arabia.
Goodsell returned to his previous occupation as commercial traveller. He married in 1922 and, like his neighbours, suffered intermittent unemployment during the Great Depression but was still working as a salesman into his 60s. Beresford Onslow Goodsell died in the Sydney suburb of St Leonards in his 76th year.
Article by Brad Manera
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING:
Sapper B Goodsell's service details on the National Archives of Australia website at https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Gallery151/dist/JGalleryViewer.aspx?B=4787080&S=1&N=18&R=0#/SearchNRetrieve/NAAMedia/ShowImage.aspx?B=4787080&T=P&S=18
War Diary of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade at the Australian War Memorial website: https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/awm-media/collection/RCDIG1012028/bundled/RCDIG1012028.pdf
Bean, Charles The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914 – 1918 Volume VII (Australian War Memorial, Canberra. 1943)
Gullett, Henry Somer The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914-1918 (Angus & Robertson, Sydney. 1941)
Flaherty, Dr Chris Turkish Belt Buckles in eNotes, 6 December 2016, www.Ottoman-uniforms.com