Monday, 1 April 2013


This poem is one taken from my WAR HORSES series.

The Australian Horses that carried our men so bravely and so well  at the charge of Beersheba in WWI  were ordered to be shot.  They would not be returned to Australia.  The same fate applied to all horses in the field of war - only one horse ever returned to Australia, a Colonels horse named  Sandy, a thoroughbred who  was returned to Australia from Gallipolli in 1918.  He was the only horse from 136,000 Walers to return to his homelands shores.

Due to blindness and increased debility he was humanely destroyed in May 1923


There were fields of destruction wherever you looked
also fear and alarm in the air
and wisps of old horsehair just blowing about
and the strong scent of death everywhere.
Blown out like a candle when daylight has come
were the lives of the many whose race had been run ,
‘ twas written in starlight and left the blokes numb
as the moon still rode high ‘cross the sand.

There’d been no consultation and no questions asked
just an order sent down from above,
that sat on the wobbling table right now -
didn’t fit like a hand in a glove.
Every word there stood out like each line on your palm
no soft soap to ease it, no lanolin balm,
most blokes would far rather have ripped off their arm
than to follow that dreadful command.

There were fields of destruction wherever you looked
but this one was quite unexpected
in all of their nightmares of war and its hell
they’d not planned killing mates they respected.
And after each friend there had given their best
faced up to the shortages, and lack of rest
and fulfilled with honest toil every request -
they were dealt this unfair bastard hand .

For close to a century their bones have rested
in the  Holy Lands tall dunes of  sand
but even today how that order still rankles
'All horses must be shot'– the command.

Maureen Clifford ©
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