Horses also laid down their lives in defence of the nation
COMMON MYTHS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE
The Light Horse shot all their horses.
There were 122,000 horses exported from Australia in World War 1.
At the end of 1918, there were approximately 13,500 in use with the Australian Light Horse units in the Middle East.
These were classified by age and condition and those not fit for further use (approx. 2000 were destroyed).
According to the Australian War Memorial, 250 were destroyed illegally.
The remainder were sold to the British Army, the Indian Army and other governments, including 1000 horses shipped to Finland.
MYTH – The Light Horse charged Beersheba by themselves and won the battle without support.
FACT – The Western Front of the Beersheba complex was assaulted by 20,000 British infantries with the Australian and Anzac Mounted divisions attaching from the east.
At sunset, the 4th and 12th regiments attached on horseback and broke through the trenches.
They obtained enough water for about 50 per cent of the horses involved in the violent attack.
MYTH – There was one Light Horse Brigade.
FACT – A Brigade was a formation of three regiments.
Australia supplied 15 Light Horse regiments in World War I.
The brigades were from the 1st to the 12th regiments, while the 5th brigade was 14th and 15th regiments which were formed from the Camel Corp in 1918.
The 3rd Regiment of this brigade was a French colonial unit.
The 13th Light Horse regiment transferred to France after the Gallipoli campaign and remained there as a Corp cavalry of the Australian Imperial Force until 1919.
‘‘ AT THE END OF 1918, THERE WERE APPROXIMATELY 13,500 IN USE WITH THE AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE UNITS IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
MYTH – Australia did not have conscription on world war 11
FACT – All Australian males were subject to compulsory military service from 1910 until 1929.
However, conscripts could not be sent overseas.
All soldiers who served in the AIF were volunteers and it was only all volunteer army involved in the World War.
AN ESK HERO IN WORLD WAR I
It was reported on August 1, 1914, that Germany had declared war on Russia and on August 2, Germany invaded Poland.
By August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany.
This led to Australia’s entry into World War I (1914/18) which was thought to “end all wars” but as we know, it didn’t.
Nearing the end of that war, flimsy aircraft were being built and used to win advantage over the enemy.
In 1918, Queenslander Stan Dallas, an airman, was credited as being the most successful Australian fighter pilot, with some people estimating he had shot down 50 enemy planes.
Stan had been born on a cattle station near Esk, Queensland, and was recommended for the Victoria Cross several times.
He had received a letter announcing his promotion to lieutenant-colonel.
The planes in which he had flown were made of wood, canvas and wire.
It was former Melbourne motor mechanic Harry Hawken who was at the forefront of design of Sopwith war planes.
Factories were soon turning out thousands of planes every week. Australia had no air force of its own, but our Australian pilots were quick to fly British machines.
Aviation was vital for mapping and observing troop movements.
For three weeks in April 1915, pilots taking off from the world’s first aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal photographed and dropped bombs on the southern half of the Gallipoli Peninsular and on August 19, 1915, the first successful aerial torpedo attack in history destroyed a 5000tonne Turkish steamer.
OFF TO WAR
In 1915, the “Dungarees” were enthusiastically welcomed when they marched into Ipswich after a long trek.
Twenty-eight young men set out on foot from the Darling Downs through many country centres, finally arriving at Ipswich.
Along the way they began recruiting men hoping they would enlist with the Australian Defence Force and serve in World War I.
The word “dungaree” was a coarse Indian calico used to make overalls or trousers, but the Australians used the word to mean “settler or poor colonist”.
Overseas, many of these men were involved in the harshest fighting on the Western Front in France and Belgium.
They also played an important role in the taking of the town, Hamel on July 4, 1918, during the fighting to
Villers-Bretonneux and this was the first breakthrough by the Allies.
LOOKING BACK: Colonel Stodart and officers of the 2nd Light Horse, who all served in World War I, photographed at a Redbank Camp in 1913.