The Waler: Australia’s Great War Horse
Director: Russell Vines
Producer: Marian Bartsch
Narrated by William McInnes
Over 130,000 Australian horses served in the Great War of 1914-18. Popularly known as ‘Walers’, it was in the desert sands of the Middle East 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 Jordon 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.
Proudly funded by ScreenWest, AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION and ScreenAustralia with THE ASSISTANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS COMMISSIONED AS PART OF THE ANZAC CENTENARY COMMEMORATIONS