Remember The Horses Too

The men who went to war for us and died so far away,
are honoured and remembered well each April – Anzac Day.
Our soldiers fought with hero strength, but let us not forget –
who helped them through those horrid times of bomb and bayonet?

The Remounts Section sourced the best – Australia’s finest Walers
were led aboard a hundred steam ships – patient equine sailors.
Oblivious to war ahead, they crossed the angry waves.
Not all of them survived the trip, some sleep in ocean graves.

The Brigadier’s prancing mount, the trooper’s sturdy steed,
the half-legs pulling water carts, gave strength, endurance, speed.
The Waler took the trumpeter to call at Palestine.
The heavy horse pulled medic carts behind the firing line.

The gun horse hauled artillery to arm the troopers’ fight,
while sections rode reconnaissance each dark and restless night.
Through dust storms, scorching temperatures and shifting sand and hills
they proved that they had hearts of gold, with courage, nerve and wills.

The horses saw the desperate times when death was all around.
They galloped through the screaming injured, thrashing on the ground.
They were shot at, strafed by German planes, felt shrapnel each grenade.
The wounded, frightened horses fell as Turk machine guns sprayed.

All did their job, and did it well, with little hope of rest.
The saddle taken off at night was thanks they got at best.
A pat, and “Thanks, good on ‘ya mate,” a nosebag with some corn,
a quick lay down, a few hours sleep, then back to war at dawn.

So many stories have been told – heroic acts of horses
who double-backed the injured men and dashed through Turkish forces.
Then when the war was finished, all the troopers clapped and cheered,
but what about the horses, that they loved and so revered?

Their horse was friend and comrade, through the thick of war and thin.
The Aussie politicians wouldn’t let them come back in.
They said, “Because of quarantine, and massive costs involved,
you’ll have to leave your mounts behind.” The troopers’ cheers dissolved.

The war was done. The men could leave that nightmare combat zone,
but first, they had to take the lives of those who’d saved their own!
The younger mounts were volunteered to India’s command.
Those over four were shot, and left to perish in the sand.

The horses of the 3rd Brigade were killed in Tripoli.
They lined them up in olive groves, then shot them. Tears ran free.
Each marksman fired, and wished the horse had died while serving war,
to lay the blame on enemy – instead his own heart tore.

The horses’ frightened screaming rose above the gunshot rattle,
and left the men with lifelong scars, of killing after battle.
A thankless way to thank each horse for service in the sand,
and fearless dedication shown to save our precious land.

One hundred and eighty thousand horses gave their blood and lives,
to help return our troopers to their children and their wives.
They gave their all, then still found more brave gallantry to give.
They’d never see green fields again, or come back home to live.

We’re grateful for the Anzacs and their sacrifice as well.
We know the wars were brutal and the soldiers went through Hell.
So honour fallen loved ones and the friends we never knew,
but I ask you, every Anzac Day … remember the horses, too …

© by Kym Eitel