Today on Anzac Day, Australia commemorates the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli during World War I.
When World War I began in August 1914, the Australian and New Zealand governments requisitioned cargo and passenger ships that were converted into troop carriers. Forty ships, including four naval ships to provide protection from German warships, met at Albany, Western Australia in October 1914.
At dawn on 1 November, after restocking with supplies, the ships, carrying 30,000 troops and 7,500 horses, began to move out of Albany harbour in two long columns, followed by a plume of black smoke from the coal-fired steam engines. The poet and horseman, Banjo Paterson, who was on one of the ships as a volunteer vet, wrote that, “It was the most wonderful sight that an Australian ever saw”.
Many of the troops were members of Light Horse regiments, which went on to fight without their horses at Gallipoli, and then in Palestine and Syria. We have recently read The Australian Light Horse by Ronald Perry, which is an easy to read account of World War I battles fought by cavalry in the deserts of the Middle East.
The Princess Royal Fort at Albany devotes one room of its museum to the Light Horse.