WW1: The Southern Frontier

Anzac Memorial

The murder of the Austrian Crown Prince in Sarajevo triggered the start of the First World War. A month later almost all of Europe was in turmoil.

Although WW1 is generally associated with Europe it did not take long for the conflict to spread to other frontiers and involve more than half the world’s nations.

The military magnitude, casualties and horrors of this war came to be known as “The Great War” and had no precedence.

Although the British Campaign in the Middle East was not a focal point, it had great historical and economical resonance.




In the following tour itinerary we will walk in the footsteps of the British and ANZAC forces. From nearby Gaza – the gateway to the Holy Land from Egypt throughout history – we will analyze the battles, the great victories and the horrible defeats. We will visit some of the battlegrounds and a very well-kept military cemetery. Over 12,000 British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers are buried in the Holy Land.

Tour Itinerary

Tour Code: ATSF1

  • Depart Ashdod Port, driving south along the Mediterranean coast.
  • Stop at the BLACK ARROW MEMORIAL, overlooking Gaza, the gateway to the land of Israel from Egypt throughout history. Here the story of two major attempts by the British to conquer Gaza will be recounted. The first battle on March 25th 1917, and the second one about 2 weeks later, both failed miserably and resulted in horrendous casualties. Due to these results, the British Command conceived “the backpack trick” a plan of deception that misled the Turks and their German commander which led to the ‘amazing’ victory of the British forces at Beersheva.
  • Drive to the BE’ERI FOREST GROUNDS and stop at the ANZAC MEMORIAL that commemorates the ANZAC soldiers who fell in combat in the “Great War”. The design of the memorial is in the shape of the letter A, the first letter in ANZAC, which when viewed from a distance, resembles a horse’s head.
  • Continue to “ASSAF STREAM“, which marks the beginning of the ANZAC Trail (some 100 km or 60 miles long) and memorializes the route the ANZAC horsemen took when they conquered Beersheba.
  • Stop at TEL GAMA (GAMA HILL) which rises over the western bank of the Besor Stream. The hill was a British army position overlooking the plains that surround Gaza City. British lookouts and signaling teams were stationed at the top and sent messages to the troops in the field. At the foot of the hill a reservoir and a field hospital that treated the wounded from the Second Battle of Gaza was constructed by the British.
  • Visit the area of the BESOR SPRINGS, where the British military built its central water base for its forces on the Gaza-Beersheva front, as well as a dam that created a reservoir of more than 2 million litres of water. The ANZAC mounted forces knew the Besor ravine as Wadi Shellal (the Arabic name). They discovered a spectacular mosaic as well as remains of the floor of a Byzantine church at Khirbet Shellal, the small hill east of the springs, which was moved to Australia where it is displayed at the Australian War Museum in Canberra. The British Army laid a railroad track in the Sinai, the construction of which advanced, as its troops did, until it reached the Besor Springs. After World War I a railroad bridge for the Rafah-Beersheba line was built near the springs. A restoration of part of the bridge and a replica of a train car from the period is located in Besor Park.
  • Drive to BEER SHEVA which is on the border between the desert and the fertile lands, discussing en route the constant conflict between the farmers and Bedouins. Discuss the swift attack of the ANZAC that managed to overtake Beersheva before the Turks could blow up the wells, which were crucial to survival.
  • Visit THE COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES CEMETERY established after the conquest of Beersheba in 1917 where 1,239 soldiers are buried, including members of the ANZAC that fell in battle in the region stretching from the Besor stream to Beersheba and north to Yavne. The ANZAC fallen buried in Beersheba include 173 Australians and 31 New Zealanders.
  • Visit THE PARK OF THE AUSTRALIAN SOLDIER commemorating the ANZAC Mounted Division that captured Beersheba. In the center of the park is an impressive bronze statue of an Australian horseman. A memorial ceremony for those who fell in the Battle of Beersheba is held near the monument every 31 October, with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Turkey and Israel participating. The park is a public playground with special facilities and equipment for children with various types of disabilities that aims to promote the integration of special needs children into the community.
  • From there, drive north to TEL CHALIFA, a typical Turkish stronghold that witnessed bitter battles between the Turks and the British. Eventually the British conquered it on November 6, 1917.
  • Return to Ashdod Port.


Tour Options

Below is a list of sites on the same route and close in themes which can be exchanged or added, depending on personal preferences and time constraints.

The tour may be operated as a JOINT TOUR enabling you to share expenses which allows you the benefits of a private tour excursion at a price competitive with bus tours.GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.

GROUP TOURS can be arranged for large groups enabling itinerary flexibility and adaptability to groups requirements, interests, language etc.