Light Horse Sculpture Parade @ M4 & M7 Interchange: 3

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Ian Stehbens on May 25, 2008

The Australian Light Horse Sculpture Parade is dedicated to the heroic troops who served in the Australian Light Horse and their horses that could never return.

During World War II the Australian Light Horse soldiers were based in Western Sydney at a major training camp, then called Wallgrove—beside this interchange linking the M4 Motorway with the Westlink M7. During that war, Lighthorsemen patrolled the main water supply pipeline, which runs through the area. It is because of this long association that it was decided that the interchange at Eastern Creek should be called the Light Horse Interchange.

The Australian Light Horse were mounted regiments from New South Wales and other States that fought at Gallipoli and in the famous charge of Beersheba.

The Australian Light Horse came to prominence during World War I. This so called Great War, as much as any single event in Australian history, helped forge the Australian identity. But it came at a terrible cost. For Australia, as for other nations, World War I remains the most costly conflict ever in terms of deaths and casualties. From a population of fewer than 5 million, 300,000 men enlisted, of which more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.

Following the outbreak of war in 1914, men from Western Sydney as well as from other rural areas of NSW, especially the north coast, joined the Light Horse. Western Sydney then, was considered rural, if not quite the bush. During World War I, the Australian Light Horse regiments fought as infantry at Gallipoli in 1915, taking part in battles at Lone Pine and the Nek. Later, one regiment was sent to France, with the remaining 14 regiments taking part in battles in the Middle East, the most famous of which was the charge of Beersheba. This charge was one of the last mounted charges in history, and the last successful mounted charge in military history. At Beersheba the 4 th and the 12 th Light Horse regiments charged into the Turkish trenches, machine guns and artillery positions at 4.30 p.m. on 31 October 1917. Without swords, as they were not on issue to the Light Horse, the lighthorsemen drew their long bayonets to flash in the setting sun as swords.

Beersheba fell to the Australian Light Horse. The Light Horse eventually entered Jerusalem and were the first allied troops to enter Damascus, shortly before the Armistice.

The sculpture has a central mast and four sets of radiating markers representing the Australian Light Horse on parade. The 55m high mast with its reflective crown, located at the centre of the Light Horse Interchange, provides a focus to the sculpture.

The lit mast and crown symbolise a torch in the dark.

Red, the colour of the Flanders poppy and poppies that bloomed throughout Palestine, is symbolic of the blood of supreme sacrifice and is the colour chosen for the sculptural group.

The abstract plumage attached to each marker represents the emu plumes attached to the Light Horsemen’s slouch hats.

The white band is a reference to the departing soldiers’ innocence of war.

Australian quarantine regulations prevented the return of any horse that had survived the battles. The old and sick horses were shot, while the remainder was handed over to British units. As a reminder of every Light Horseman’s loss in leaving his horse behind, there is no physical representation of the horse in the sculpture.

Compiled and edited from RTA website

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  • Uploaded on May 25, 2008
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    by Ian Stehbens