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Sunday Herald Sun - - News - AN­DREW RULE

The Aus­tralian Light Horse in for­ma­tion. A group of of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing Lt-Col Frank Row­ell, who was ap­pointed to com­mand the Light Horse.

MID­NIGHT and Bill the Bas­tard sound like names for a pair of bushrangers but these two weren’t, even if Bill was a no­to­ri­ous rogue be­fore he turned hero. He and Mid­night were bush horses — two of the 136,000 Aus­tralian “walers” that went to war a cen­tury ago and didn’t come home.

No one alive knows whether Mid­night ever “met” Bill but it’s un­likely. He was with the 2nd Light Horse Reg­i­ment and Mid­night went to the 12th with her owner, Guy Hay­don. Mid­night died in bat­tle and Bill ap­par­ently didn’t. A book loosely based on “the Bas­tard” claims he sur­vived the war and was given to a Turk­ish fam­ily on the Gal­lipoli Penin­sula, a Hol­ly­wood happy end­ing so pre­pos­ter­ous it sounds like an in­ven­tion.

But the real sto­ries be­hind the leg­ends of Bill the Bas­tard and Mid­night are so touch­ing they don’t need em­bel­lish­ing. That is why a Mel­bourne busi­ness­man with a big heart and deep pock­ets has come up with a way to hon­our those two as a trib­ute to all An­zac horses lost at war.

Bill Gib­bins sold his truck­ing busi­ness for plenty a few years ago so he can af­ford a cou­ple of hob­bies: punt­ing and phi­lan­thropy.

Back in 2007, when the “Rats of To­bruk” looked like los­ing their Al­bert Park build­ing used for re­unions since World War II, Bill qui­etly bought it for the sur­viv­ing “Rats” to use. The $1.75 mil­lion price went to fight child­hood cancer — and the old sol­diers could still call To­bruk House their own.

When Bill the Good Bloke heard of Bill the Bas­tard and Mid­night, he thought of a way to com­bine do­ing good works and going to races. That’s

Guy Hay­don (also far right, in a 1916 por­trait) on Mid­night, the ’Black Beauty’ of the Light Horse.

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