Reserve Forces Day 2004
2004 Marked 90 years since the outbreak of the Great War. This year we honoured the horses, the Walers, and the Light Horsemen of Australia who made such a name for themselves, first in the South African War at the turn of the 20th century, and then in the Middle East, France and Belgium in
WWI. Over 185,000 horses served in the Boer War and the 1914-1918 War. They suffered unimaginable conditions but never failed their riders. In fact a breeding industry was started in Australia to provide horses for Cavalry units throughout the world, almost 350,000 horses were sold overseas between the early 1800's and 1950.
Only one horse, a charger named 'Sandy', that belonged to Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges KCB (who was killed at Gallipoli), was allowed to return home to Australia to take part in his State funeral.
The challenge we set ourselves was to find 90 horses and riders to take a prominent role in the parade. Most of us not being a riders we were on a steep learning curve.
The result was wonderful with all of the horse groups and Light Horse Association coming to our aid and volunteering to take part in the training and parade. The “civilian riders” got into the spirit of the day with the sorting out and dress of 1914. The Op shops must have done a good trade.
The Light Horse Squadrons comprised a Light Horse Troop and 2 troops of civilian "recruits" in 1914 period dress. There were the gentlemen graziers suitable attired and the rough-riders representing those who "came in from the bush" to join the Australian Imperial Force
(A.I.F.) Then there were the beautiful ladies with dresses and hats of the era who brought their horses to "donate to the war effort".
The squadron underwent extensive training on the Saturday the 3rd of July the day prior to the parade from the NSW Mounted Police at Malabar Rifle Range known as "Fort
Chauvel"' for the weekend. The Second in charge of the Squadron was a Captain from the UK Yeomanry and there were 3 riders from the historic 1st Philadelphia Troop Cavalry, a unit of the US National Guard which had recently returned from service in Europe. There were the wonderful wagons from Penfolds and the Belgenny Farm Trust with war stores. The horse contingents were followed by an array of motor bikes, armoured vehicles and trucks that took over from the horses.
The Reserve Forces Day Council members were very happy with the outcome of the parade and particularly from all the volunteers who came forward to help and take part. The media and public interest was excellent and the council achieved its aim of thanking former and serving members for their service and raising the profile of the Reserve.
A video (VHS or DVD) of the parade is available for order. Please
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