Hero Horse No32 – Sandy the Survivor

Nigel Alsopp, our War Horse Memorial ambassador in Australia, has nominated Sandy, the only horse to return Down Under after serving in World War One.

He says: “According to the Australian War Memorial, during The Great War Australia sent 136,000 horses overseas to be used by the Australian, British and Indian armed forces. Sandy, a Waler, belonged to Major General Sir William Bridges who was killed in battle at Gallipoli. A gentle bay standing 16 hands high, he was the Major’s favourite charger and it was his dying wish to have his beloved horse returned home to Australia to enjoy a long and happy retirement.

“When the Major died, Sandy was put into the care of Captain Leslie Whitfield and was transported to Egypt then onto France in March 1916. It wasn’t until the following year that the Australian authorities were able to honour the Major’s dying wish and granted Sandy a safe passage to return home.”

Nigel, President of AWAMO [Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation], ANZAC of the year 2017-18 and Australia Day Citizen Of The Year 2019, adds: “It’s tragic to think Sandy was the only horse to go back when the war was over. While some of the horses that survived were sold to the British Army and others were given to locals, many soldiers chose to go against the army’s orders and destroy their horses rather than leave them on foreign soil. I can’t begin to imagine how devastating and heart-wrenching this would have been for these soldiers, but a poem from Major Oliver Hogue sheds light on their plight.”

I don’t think I could stand the thought of my old fancy hack
Just crawling round old Cairo with a ’Gyppo’ [Editor’s not, sic] 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.”
Maybe I’ll get court-martialled; but I’m damned if I’m inclined
To go back to Australia and leave my horse behind.

From Australia in Palestine, 1919
Reference: Australian War Memorial

Hero Horse No32 – Sandy the Survivor

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