Bill the Bastard: The Story of Australia’s Greatest War Horse (Roland Perry, A&U)
Australia didn’t just send its men to fight in the First World War. Tens of thousands of horses went too. The hardy Walers proved their worth time and again in the difficult campaigns in the Middle East, and the bonds between the light horsemen and their mounts grew strong. In this charming book historian Roland Perry tells the story of one of these horses: the infamous Bill the Bastard. Bill was big, tough and fearless, but would only allow one man to ride him. All the others, even the finest horsemen, were thrown disdainfully from Bill’s back. Perry follows Bill’s story from Australia to Egypt and Gallipoli, where Bill served as a pack horse, to Sinai, Palestine and Syria. He tells of the famous men who crossed Bill’s path, including Banjo Patterson, Harry Chauvel and ‘Bull’ Allenby. Unlike so many war stories, this one has a happy ending. Perry’s blend of historical fact and gripping storytelling will appeal to both military buffs and horse lovers, and will make this a popular Christmas gift for dads and granddads.
Dave Martus is the manager of Dymocks Neutral Bay in Sydney. He has many years’ experience as a bookseller and buyer in Australia and the UK