Sunday History Photo / Au

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 08:57
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Before I begin for this week I would like thank all for the congrat' messages I recieved from many of you about the lifetime membership gift , thank you all.


The Waler is an Australian breed of riding horses that developed from the horses that were brought to the Australian colonies in the 1800s. The name comes from their early breeding origins in New South Wales, they were originally known as New South Walers
It was originally considered only a "type" of horse and not a distinct breed. However, as a landrace bred under the extreme climate and challenging working conditions of Australia, the Waler developed into a hardy horse with great endurance even when under extreme stress from lack of food and water. It was used as a stockman's horse and prized as a military remount. Walers were also used by bushrangers, troopers and exploration expeditions that traversed inland Australia.

The preferred Walers for cavalry duties were 15 to 16 hands high, those over 16 hands were rejected for use in the South Australian Bushmen Corps. Unbroken horses, as well as those with grey and spotted coat colours were also rejected. The selected horses had to be of a good type that could carry sixteen or seventeen stone day after day.
The Walers carried the rider, saddle, saddle cloth, bridle, head collar, lead rope, a horseshoe case with one front and one hind shoe, nails, rations for the horse and rider, a bedroll, change of clothing, a rifle and about 90 rounds of .303 rifle ammunition.

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The gaits of the Waler were considered ideal for a cavalry mount, it could maintain a fast walk and could progress directly to a steady, level canter without resorting to a trot which was noisy, liable to dislodge gear and resulted in soreness in the horse's back. The cavalry horse required docility, courage, speed, and athletic ability, as it carried the rider into battle. The infantryman’s horse was used as a means of transport from one point to another, for example, from camp to a battle ground, where the horses were kept back from the fighting.
Most of the early Walers carried a fair percentage of Thoroughbred blood, with some recorded as race winners and a few being registered in the Australian Stud Book. While in warfare service in North Africa, some Walers proved successful in races against local Egyptian horses and assorted Thoroughbreds. In 1919 horses from the Anzac Mounted Division won five of the six events at Heliopolis, near Cairo.

Australian horses were sent overseas from the 1830s; between the 1840s and 1940s, there was a steady trade in Walers to the British Indian Army.
In Australia's two wars of the early 20th century—the Second Boer War and World War I—the Waler was the backbone of the Australian Light Horse mounted forces. It was especially suited to working in the harsh climate of the Sinai Peninsula and Palestine, where it proved superior to the camel as a means of transporting large bodies of troops.
During the Boer War, Australia dispatched 16,314 horses overseas for use by the Australian Infantry Forces. In the First World War, 121,324 Walers were sent overseas to the allied armies in Africa, Europe, India and Palestine. Of these, 39,348 served with the First Australian Imperial Force, mainly in the Middle East, while 81,976 were sent to India. Due to quarantine restrictions, only one Waler is known to have been returned to Australia; "Sandy", the mount of Major-General W.T. Bridges, an officer who died at Gallipoli in May 1915.

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One well-known Waler was Major M. Shanahan’s mount, ‘Bill the Bastard,’ who bucked when asked to gallop. Yet, during World War I, when the Major found four Australians outflanked by the Turks, ‘Bill the Bastard’ carried all five men – three on his back and one on each stirrup - three quarters of a mile .75 miles (1.21 km) through soft sand at a lumbering gallop – without first bucking.
At the end of the war, 11,000 surplus horses in the Middle East were sold to the British Army as remounts for Egypt and India. Some horses that were categorised as being unfit were destroyed. Also, some light horsemen chose to destroy their horses rather than part with them, but this was an exception, despite the popular myth that portrays it as the fate of all the war horses. Parting with their Walers was one of the hardest events the light horsemen had to endure. A poem by "Trooper Bluegum" sums up the men's sentiment:

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I don't think I could stand the thought of my old fancy hack
Just crawling round old Cairo with a 'Gyppo on his back.
Perhaps some English tourist out in Palestine may find
My broken-hearted Waler with a wooden plough behind.

No: I think I'd better shoot him and tell a little lie:--
"He floundered in a wombat hole and then lay down to die."
May be I'll get court-martialled; but I'm damned if I'm inclined
To go back to Australia and leave my horse behind.

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A memorial statue to the Waler Light Horse was erected at Tamworth, New South Wales as a tribute to the men of the ANZAC Corps who served in the Boer, Sudan and First World Wars. This memorial was constructed at a cost of $150,000, funded by grants from Federal and State Governments, Tamworth Regional Council, Joblink Plus and donations from business houses, property owners, RSL Members and the community. It was designed and created by sculptor Tanya Bartlett from Newcastle, New South Wales. The military equipment is identical to that used in the First World War. Forty-seven light horse re-enactment riders and the 12th/16th Hunter River lancers took part in the unveiling by Major General William B. "Digger" James AC MBE MC.


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Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 09:46

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 09:46
Hi Doug,
the light horse have a real and lasting history in "Palestine" as you probably well know.

Another "ripper" as usual Doug.
regards
Fred B
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Reply By: Marion - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 09:49

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 09:49
Hi Doug,

Thanks again for another great read.

Cheers Marion
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Reply By: Member - Tony (ACT) - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 10:05

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 10:05
Thanks Doug well written. As a horse person this almost brings a tear - no buggert it did bring a tear to the eye.
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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Monday, Mar 05, 2012 at 17:30

Monday, Mar 05, 2012 at 17:30
Tony, have a look at the video clip I posted below.

That'll surely extract a tear, and there's no shame in that mate.

Norma O'hara Murphy also sings a beaut song about the walers, but I can't find it at the moment.

Cheers from Fred.
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Follow Up By: Member - Tony (ACT) - Monday, Mar 05, 2012 at 19:44

Monday, Mar 05, 2012 at 19:44
Thats a good one Fred. Another sad moment was when they sunk the old DE22 (F22). My first ship in 64.
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Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 10:28

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 10:28
G'day Doug, Another goody as usual. Congrats for your well deserved award.
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Reply By: Member - allan t (NT) - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 10:32

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 10:32
HI a ripper Doug
Allan
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Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 11:43

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 11:43
Congratulations and well done on your recognition and reward Doug. Once again, thank you for your Sunday History reports, they are eagerly awaited and always read. Cheers, Bob.

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Reply By: Fred G NSW - Monday, Mar 05, 2012 at 13:56

Monday, Mar 05, 2012 at 13:56
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Monday, Mar 05, 2012 at 14:16

Monday, Mar 05, 2012 at 14:16
Well done Fred, that is a good, Thanks mate.

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