Cavalry, Firepower, and Swords: The Australian Light Horse and the Tactical Lessons of Cavalry Operations in Palestine, 1916-1918

Despite their frequent description as mounted infantry, more than half of the Australian Light Horse finished the First World War as full sword-carrying cavalry, making use of both fire and modern shock tactics. This change ran counter to the traditions of the Australian mounted service, which had long emphasised rifle-based firepower for modern mounted troops. This article will examine the reasons why such a force adopted the sword in 1918, the nature of the change, and the experiences behind it. Even in the last year of the First World War, cavalry shock tactics still had a place on the battlefield.