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What Happened To The Horses...

By Dave Proust

I read the poster on the wall,
It said, “Now be a man, come and join the Lighthorse” and do the best you can,
The war was on in Europe and all those foreign lands,
But I went off to Egypt to fight in desert sands,

I was jackarooing around Western Queensland way,
I came into town with cattle, though I wasn’t supposed to stay,
But I signed up then and there and went off to Brisbane town,
“A chance to see the world”, they said, I shouldn’t let them down

I only trained for 5 short months to teach us how to march,
For we could ride, and shoot, and fight. Except for pommie Arch
I’d never seen the sea before, I really couldn’t swim.
Now here we were boarding ships, we did it on a whim.

The trip to Cairo was so long, it bored us all to tears.
Then up the great Red Sea we sailed, it seemed to take us years.
We disembarked and went to camp. We saw the pyramids.
We found our land legs and our gear, and were pestered by the kids.

First job I had was pick a horse, but I had no idea,
This bond we’d have between us that would grow from year to year.
‘Bill’ was nothing great to look at, he stood around 15 hands.
He was tough, and strong, good natured, and had a trust without demand.

We hit it off straight away, I took Billy for a ride.
He could gallop, trot and canter. He would never break his stride.
I slept with Bill in lines that night, to make sure he’d settle down
He was calm and quiet, he never made a sound.

The Lighthorse trained us for a while in this barren land,
We got used to heat and flies, and the burning desert sands.
Then our turn came for battle, we were ready for this stunt
We attacked the Turks at Jeppaborr, with me and Billy at the front.

The fight was on in earnest now, but lots of us were down.
Man and horse together died, there on foreign ground.
Then the Turks attacked the Suez, Britains archway to the East.
But we repelled those beggars, and we hurried their retreat.

Out on patrol in the Sinai, searching for our foe,
We were ambushed by the mongrels, and the sergeant said “lets go!”
Half our troop had lost their lives, and many horses too.
But me and Billy got away, his speed had got us through.

Then looking back, I saw two men, running hard on foot.
I turned my mount and rode him back through sand, and smoke, and soot.
The sergeant said “now just take one”, But I couldn’t leave him there.
One mile, with 3 men on his back, Bill galloped nostrils flared.

We were sent to take Beersheebah, and rode for two full days.
Horses went without their water in this dry hot desert haze.
I filled my hat and shared with Bill the little that I had
One officer that saw me thought that I was mad.

The charge to Beersheebah was a four mile desert plain.
We Lighthorse rode in hard and fast, giving horses all the rein.
We raced beneath the big guns, and passed machine gun nests.
We took the town, and water. Cause our horses were the best.
Another year of fighting, and the war was won.
I looked forward to going home, far from this desert sun.
Then we were told… the news. That burnt deep into my mind
That all the horses, and my Bill. Would have to stay behind.

“We’ll sell them to the locals”, I heard a General say.
My Bill. Stay with these ‘gypo’s’. not if I get my way.
The Lighthorse ranks rebelled at this, so this idea was dropped.
For we knew the locals cruelty, and that it could not be stopped.

So the horses that were young and fit, to India they would go.
The rest would stay and be put down, but how I did not know.
Special squads to shoot our mounts, came round to where we sat.
But I said… I’ll do the job myself, at least I owe him that.

So I took my Bill to an olive grove, and I let him have a graze.
And we spoke of all the battles, and good mates we’d left in graves.
We spoke for many hours, till my mates came into say, “let the squad boys do it”
But I told them “GO AWAY!!”

Then I looked my best friend in the eye, and he seemed to know.
The time had come to say goodbye, that it was time to go
I took my rifle from the ground, to bring this to and end.
And with trembling hands, and tearful eyes, I shot my greatest friend.

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