Light Horse Sculpture Parade @ M4 & M7 Interchange: 1

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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

Margrit M. Berger (S… on May 31, 2008

A very sad story, Ian, for horses and so many human beings on opposide sides. Thank you for the information. It shows the dreadful result of wars, in which no-one wins, at least not if one considers what follows later through decades.

Ian, at first, I noticed the series of colourful rows of poles, which I found pleasant. When I opened them, I found them even more interesting, I then discovered the horse hair, read the tags and your information, after that I felt a sorrow for lost and slaughtered lives. I will never understand any war. May this memorial help to make people think about the deadly result of wars.

I wish there were more peacemakers like you to prevent wars and violence.

My best greetings, May

Ian Stehbens on June 1, 2008

I counted them last night as I drove through the intersection. There are 1100 red poles in the M4 median strip, and I presume the same number along the M7. 2200 poles. I hope I am right. I guess I will just have to count and recount them every time I go to visit my daughter.

Dear May,

Thank you for your response and for the encouragement. It is not an easy role but it is a special responsibility. It is sad that heroism is too often defined as a result of the failure of diplomacy, or the refusal to use diplomacy. I trust that all nations can imagine non-violent heroes and allow them to shape ideals. I sense we are living through a very special era, when there is a movement that now recognises that violence is not legitimate means of working out differences. And that national-level forgiveness is a prelude to generating real reconciliation. Peacebuilding is a real possibility now. The special role of neutrality adopted by Switzerland, and the recent acceptance of an article by Japan that denies the legitimacy of violence in interstate affairs are but two examples. The reunion of Germany through peaceful means and many other very large scale and small scale peaceful transitions and events give energy to hope.

Greetings of grace and peace,

Ian

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  • Uploaded on May 25, 2008
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    by Ian Stehbens

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