24 Apr 2009

Trooper Sloan 'Scotty' Bolton DCM

Farewell Old War Horse

The struggle for freedom has ended they say,
The days of fatigue and Remorse,
But our hearts one and all are in memory today,
We are losing our old friend, the Horse.

The old quadruped that has carried us thro'
The sand ridden caravan track
And shared in the charge of the gallant and true
With the boys who will never come back.

Oh those long weary days thro' a miniature hell
Short of water and nothing to eat,
Each hour we climbed down for a few minutes' spell
And dozed safe and sound and your feet.

When the enemy shrapnel broke overhead,
As we passed up that Valley of Death,
You never once slackened in that hail of lead
Though the boldest of all held their breath.
But we never forgot you, old Comrade and friend,
When the QM Dump hove in sight.
What the Buckshee to Gippo's we scored in the end
And your rations were doubled that night.

Then came the long journey, the greatest of all,
The cavalry stunt of the world.
The sons of Australia had answered the call
And the Ensign of Freedom unfurled.

And now we are leaving you footsore and worn
To the land where the Mitchell grass grew,
Where you frolicked like lambs in the sweet scented morn,
To the song of the Dismal Curlew.

So farewell to the Yarraman old warhorse, farewell,
Be you mulga bred chestnut or bay.
If there's a hereafter for horses as well
Then may we be with you some day.

Author unknown - Inspired by the feelings of Australian Light Horsemen who, because of quarantine regulations, had to leave their horses in the Middle East on their return to Australia.

My grandfather, was always a hero to us. Despite having returned from the Great War severely wounded and with two artificial legs, Grandpa had gone on to become a champion cattle breeder, and ably supported his wife, Elsie and their family of six children. We knew that he'd been a hero during war time - he had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery in the field, but like many of his contemporaries he prefered not to speak of his time at war, and we knew very little of his experiences and exploits in Palestine.

Grandpa died on Christmas Eve 1947. I never knew him.

One day in 1980, one of my cousins who was living in Sydney at that time telephoned my grandmother. He had read in the newspaper that the renowned film writer, Ian Jones was writing a film about Grandpa and his part in the capture of the wells of Beersheeba. What part, we thought. Well, our lives got pretty exciting at that point. It seems that Grandpa really had been a war hero - a recognised one... We had never known.

In 1987 Grandpa's story finally reached the silver screen in The Lighthorsemen.

You can watch part of the film - probably the most exciting part - here:

The short story of his life both during and after the Battle of Beersheeba is written in the book, Just Soldiers, by Darryl Kelly. You can find an adaption of the story about Grandpa from the book online free here.

Following the success of the film, Elyne Mitchell of Silver Brumby fame was asked to write the novel of the movie. Elyne was the perfect choice of author - her father, General Sir Harry Chauvel, had played an important role in the Battle of Beersheba, and for his part in the victory, and the subsequent capture of Jerusalem, Chauvel was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 1918 New Years Honours List.

The Lighthorsemen by Elyne Mitchell is out of print, but is available from booksellers in both the USA and Australia through my mate Abe.

This montage is a photo of Sloan and Elsie's descendants taken by my cousin Doug Bolton. It's a few years old now, but see if you can find Jemimah, her dad and me. There are two of me. If anybody can find all four faces, drop me a comment letting me know and describing us. I may just find a prize for the first correct guess, so leave me your name.

Thanks for indulging me in this Anzac post. I'm really proud of my Grandad. I hope that now you may have a little more of an idea of why.

We will remember them


  1. Very impressive! Now I will HAVE to get that movie!!

  2. Neat photo Jeanne,
    I think I have found you & Jemimah, not sure about your hubby.
    I am pretty sure that Jemimah is at the top, the 9th face from the left. About 3 faces down near the middle is a young Jeanne and between Grandma & the baby (on the left) is you - with dark lipstick! Is it your hubby to the lower left of you???

  3. 2 heads above Grandma looks like Jemimah but too old so I am guessing a young you?
    Bottom right 3up, 3 in Steve.
    Bottom left 5 in Jemimah.
    (There is a lot of family likeness when you are looking for someone!)
    I'll go with left of Grandma near the baby for you. (There is one lady with shorter hair on the right side nearer to Steve who could be you?)
    I did read A Peaceful Day back in April but I remember that our computer was down over Anzac Day and I had a scheduled post so must have missed this.
    Great stuff. Do we get a second go if it is wrong?

  4. The girl with the lighter hair, slightly left of Grandma, for younger you.
    Striped top bottom front right of G'ma for Jemimah?


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...