Apr 24, 2023

By Terry Kennedy

As we remember all those who have served to defend Australia & we appreciate all those who continue to serve, we want to reflect on the role horses have played in the Anzacs & remember the service & sacrifice these amazing animals have made to our country.

Their role in the defence force has been huge, particularly during World War I, where horses served to enable transportation, reconnaissance, and combat. These horses were carefully selected and trained to withstand the harsh conditions of war & proved to be invaluable, as they could navigate the various terrains, carrying supplies and soldiers across long distances.

One horse stood out among the Australian Light Horse Brigade in WWI for its bravery, loyalty, and resilience. The horse’s name was Sandy, a 16-hand Waler, who belonged to Major General Sir William Bridges. The Waler breed was known for its endurance, intelligence, and bravery in the harsh conditions of the Australian outback & Sandy certainly demonstrated these qualities. He quickly became a beloved member of the Anzac forces carrying supplies, transporting wounded soldiers, and earning a reputation as a brave and reliable horse. He was known for his ability to remain calm during battle, and for his fierce loyalty.

Unfortunately, of the 136,000 horses serving in WWI, tragically, only 1 made it back to Australia.

The bravery and loyalty of these 136,000 horses cannot be overstated. They often faced danger and the harshest conditions alongside their human counterparts. The bond between the Anzac soldiers and their horses was understandably incredibly strong, they were not just a means of transportation, they provided comfort and companionship in the midst of war.

It is impossible to underestimate the role that horses have played in the defence force of Australia & New Zealand. Their bravery, loyalty, and strength have been instrumental in the success of the Anzacs throughout the years. As we remember and honour the Anzac legacy, it is important to pay tribute to the horses who have played such a vital role in our nation’s history.

As for Sandy; Major General Sir William Bridges died in battle at Gallipoli & it was his dying wish to have his beloved horse returned home to Australia to enjoy a long and happy retirement. After serving further in the war, Sandy finally returned to Australia in November 1918, the big bay living out his days munching on green grass at Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s west. Sandy’s legacy continues to inspire today, symbolising the courage & resilience of the Anzac forces.

“The bond between soldiers and their horses is unbreakable, and their loyalty and trust in each other is awe-inspiring.” – Australian War Memorial curator, Stephanie Boyle

Lest we forget