The Mystery of Just Plain Bill

By Jill Mather

 

Bill, was, it is claimed, was a Gallipoli veteran. As his grave marker depicts – ‘One of the Best’.

 

In 1914 Bill was transported to Egypt in 1914 and was kept at Mena Camp along with hundreds of other Australian Waler horses. Training at the camp after the ordeal of being shipped was thankfully a well organized routine of rest, exercise, as gradually the horses were brought up to full strength. Bill was one of the horses who found himself amongst the very few Australian horses enshipped to Lemnos prior to being landed on Gallipoli to be used as a pack horse. His role would be taking supplies up the steep ridges to the soldiers and then returning with a wounded man.

 

Was Bill abandoned when Gallipoli was evacuated? This was a highly unusual practice as most of the horses and mules were removed and taken to Mesopotamia and Egypt. Bill it seems somehow survived so it is claimed. After 1919 when the Graves Registration Unit on Gallipoli arrived they discovered Bill wandering around and identified him by the markings on his hoof. So the story goes.

 

It seems he was put to work and for five years assisting the various units in their work, finally dying in 1924.

 

This is a mysterious story as there are many questions as to his whereabouts – was he in fact a horse that was given to the local villagers as some suggest? Did Bill wander around unloved for years? The grave marker is a tribute to the horse – but who in fact was Bill? We will never know. Whatever the true story Bill has been immortalized on this plaque at Anzac Cove.

 

"Bill" Australian Light Horse 1914 to 1924 - A Waler and one of the best.