Light Horse Bear
Listen to Trooper Jones’ Story
First thing you should know is not every trooper in the Light Horse wears an emu feather in his hat. Every state in Australia has its own Light Horse story and traditions and the emu feather is part my story.
In the Great War of 1914-1918 there were 15 Light Horse regiments. Each regiment had around 25 officers, 400 troopers like me, and horses for all. That’s a lot of horses.
I’m part of Queensland’s 5th Light Horse Regiment, which is why I wear the blue and red colour patch on my sleeve – and my emu feather. We were the first lot to pluck the emu’s bum and a lot of blokes in other regiments reckoned it looked so good they copied us. That’s OK – it does look pretty good! Every regiment wears its own colour patch though. This tells you where their Regiment formed.
One thing we all have in common is our favourite breed of horse. We love the Australian ‘Waler’. This is a tough horse bred in New South Wales especially for stockmen working in the harsh outback.
Although we ride horses we don’t usually charge into battle like a cavalry. We’re called mounted infantry, which means we just ride our horses to get to where we need to go and then get off and fight on foot like other diggers. When we go into battle we ride in groups of four – one bloke has the job of taking our horses somewhere safe while the rest of us go off to fight. One of the few times the Light Horse did charge into battle was at a place called Beersheba in 1917. The lads from the 12th and the 4th regiments galloped across the open desert and jumped over the trenches of Turkish soldiers and won the battle. It was pretty impressive.
When the first of us light horsemen sailed from Australia in 1914 we thought we were going to France but we ended up in Egypt and then at Gallipoli. We even had to leave our horses in Egypt when we went to Gallipoli.
After Gallipoli at the end of 1915 most of the Australian Imperial Force (our Army) did go off to France but nearly all of us light horse stayed to defend Egypt – riding our tough old Walers across the beautiful deserts. From what I hear I reckon we’re better off here than in those muddy trenches on the Western Front.