Over 130,000 Australian horses
served in the 1914 - 1918 war.
This is the story of The Walers. None came home.
Over 130,000 Australian horses served in the Great War of 1914-18. Nearly 30,000 were engaged in
the Middle East. Popularly known as ‘Walers’, it was in the desert sands that their legend was born.
They carried their men to victory on the long road to Damascus, but at war’s end they did not come
home. This is the story of their colonial origins, their gallant service, and their shameful fate.
The Waler: Australia’s Great War Horse takes us on an epic journey from the outback of Australia,
across the vast Indian Ocean, to the pyramids of Egypt, the living hell that was Gallipoli, and the
unforgiving desert sands of the Middle East. After the disaster of Gallipoli, and with the Ottoman
Turks threatening the Suez Canal, regiments of the Australian Light Horse were to undertake a
grueling three-year campaign to drive the Turks from the Sinai and Palestine, culminating in the
‘Great Ride’ through the Jordan Valley and the capture of Damascus.
This epic desert war couldn’t have been undertaken without the horses, or the small army of horse
breakers, veterinarians, farriers, saddlers and feed suppliers that were essential to keeping thousands
of horses in the field and battle-ready. Intense bonds between man and horse developed, and the loss
of a horse in battle was a harrowing experience. For the first time, The Waler: Australia’s Great War
Horse goes behind the legend of two celebrated partnerships: Michael Shanahan and ‘Bill the Bastard’,
and Guy Haydon and ‘Midnight’. And, ultimately, it reveals why our horses did not come home.