Horses also laid down their lives in de­fence of the na­tion

The Queensland Times - - TIMES PAST - BERYL JOHN­STON MYTH – FACT –


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.


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.


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.


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.

Photo: Con­tributed

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.

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