The exceptional Sands of Gallipoli release Light Horse Limited Edition Figurine has been a collectors favourite. The cold cast bronze figurine proudly remembers the Australian Light Horse and the place of these men and horses in our national heritage. The figurine is approximately 310mm high and features a glass vial of authentic Gallipoli sand set into the base and the production is limited to 5000 units.
During the Great War some 32,000 men and 40,000 horses served with the Australian Light Horse. But these men and horses were not a conventional cavalry. The light horse were mounted infantry who could use their mounts to quickly cover great distances to reach and, when need be, withdraw from the enemy. In the fight they would dismount and fight on foot. Formed in sections of four riders, one man – the ‘Led Rider’ – would take the section’s horses to safety while the others joined the fight.
The light horse served mainly with the Mediterranean and Egyptian Expeditionary Forces, fighting the Ottoman Empire at Gallipoli and in the Sinai, Palestine and Syria. Two regiments – the 4th and the 13th – sent men to the Western Front. By war’s end the AIF had raised 15 regiments of light horse for service overseas.
The light horse were well suited to the vast deserts of the Middle East. The troopers’ preferred mount – the Australian Waler – was a strong horse specifically bred for Australia’s harsh climate and able to carry the hefty load required for operations far from base.
The folklore that surrounds the exploits and manner of the light horsemen affords the ALH a special place in the hearts of Australians. The uniform differed from that of the common Diggers’ khaki, namely by the addition of polished leather leggings, shoulder slung bandolier and riding breeches. The famous ’emu plume’ atop the standard diggers’ slouch hat that is so widely associated with the ALH was cause for some controversy in the early days of the war. When the Australian Government deemed all ALH could wear the plume many regiments argued that this ‘privilege’ belonged only to the mounted troopers of Queensland, where the Gympie Mounted Infantry first adorned their hats in 1891 on service during the Great Shearers’ Strike. Some regiments opted not to wear the plume, yet today it is widely recognised as the symbol of this legendary fighting force.
A great sadness for many light horsemen at the end of the Great War was leaving their faithful mounts behind. The Australian Government deemed the risk of disease and cost of transport too great and instead sold the horses into service with the British and Indian Armies. Those horses too old, injured or too ill, were humanely put down.