On ANZAC Parade in Canberra stands the second copy of the "ANZAC Memorial".
It seems a little sad that after all these years our Australian cousins now choose
to refer to it as "The Light Horse Memorial" and a number of Australian authorities
refer to the memorial " a Light Horseman coming to the aid of a fallen New
Zealander who's horse has been shot in battle..."
The horse they refer to is
"Bess" the mount of Colonel Guy Powles, a horse that was never wounded, and
in fact made its way all the way home to New Zealand after the war.
photograph R. Thomas
"BESS" Immortalised forever in bronze. The only horse to return home to New Zealand from the Main Body sent to the battlefields of the Middle East in 1914.

The Mounted riflemen of Australia and New Zealand where not cavalry soldiers in the old sense of the word. They rarely rode their horses directly into the enemy lines in a frontal charge, as did the cavalry mounted with sword or sabre in hand. For the A.L.H. and the N.Z.M.R. the most successful technique was for the horsemen to move quickly about the intended battlefield then dismount and attack on foot as infantryman.
Therefore In the memorial above, it would seem more logical that the two soldiers are caught here by the sculptor in the moment of dismount to engage the enemy on foot.
Bess the model for the New Zealand horse was never wounded.
(In such attacks every fourth soldier became a horse handler and retreated beyond enemy fire with his own and three other horses - ready on call to race forward to collect his mates, and then be prepared to ride to another sector of the field of battle.)


6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles.
Wellington Mounted Rifles
NZMR. Bess' home squadron.

Click above to go to the NZMR
Soldier's Memorial page

Click above to go to the
Papkura Soldier's Memorial page

Steve Butler asks a few questions.

The memorial destined to become the “ANZAC Memorial” was first mooted by the surviving soldiers in Egypt, November 1916. The first reference in print was in the The Kia Ora Coo-ee, The Official Magazine of the Australian and New Zealand Forces in EGYPT, CAIRO . MAY 15th 1918.

“…representatives of the Australian and New Zealand Forces then operating in Sinai met at Mazar, and decided that a monument should be erected. Members of the A.L.H. and N.Z.M.R. responded eagerly when asked to contribute one day's pay towards the cost of the Memorial, which, it was proposed, should take the form of an Anzac horseman in bronze, standing on a base of trachite, whereon would be panels inscribed with the names of the fallen…”

Light horsemen from Australia, New Zealand Mounted Riflemen, the Cameleers and Army Nurses raised £5,400 by subscribing a day's pay towards its cost. The Commonwealth Government provided another £11,600, and The New Zealand Government a further share.  A prize of 250 guineas was offered Commonwealth wide for a design showing two horses and two ANZAC soldiers representing the mounted troops.  In 1923 the final design for the memorial was won by an Australian sculptor C. Webb Gilbert.

In New Zealand the concept of contributing to the ANZAC Memorial was met with a positive response and entering into the expanded design concept of two horsemen representing both nations, the NZ Army sent many detailed photographs of both, blinded Gallipoli veteran, trooper Clutha Mackenzie NZMR, and the horse “Bess”.  These photographs were taken at Trentham Military Camp and sent to the sculptor to use as models.

Right: A rare photograph of the original ANZAC Memorial, Port Said. Later destroyed during the 1956 Suez riots.

photograph by Den Aston - serving British soldier 1956

The original Port Said monument
- Download Larger image here
Bess, the only New Zealand horse to return from the war that set out with the Main Body
This photograph of Bess taken on the banks of the Jordan River in 1918 shows what great condition the men of the NZMR kept their trusted mounts.
The New Zealand horse was of exceptional quality, much bigger and stronger than horses of the Middle East and Europe. The endurance and stamina of the Brigade was second to none, and regularly horses were going without water for 40 hours. On one occasion a squadron traveled over hot dry desert for 72 hours without any ability of watering their horses, such feats enabling the ANZAC's to surprise and outflank the enemy on many occasions.
“Bess” was the only horse to leave New Zealand in 1914 and return at wars end.  She had been the personal mount of Colonel Guy Powles of the W.M.R. (and father of New Zealands first Ombudsman) and the mare saw action many times in the desert campaigns. The surviving horses of the NZMR had either been detailed to other British units, sold to local traders or ordered destroyed. Bess continued on with Colonel Powles to England where she represented New Zealand at the coronation of 1920.  Here to it is recorded she played a number of chukkas of Polo before returning with her master to NZ.

Lieutenant Colonel Powles later became one of the first Principals of Flock House Farm Training Institute and while out riding his faithful mare one day in October 1934 “…she suddenly decided to lie down and die then and there".
Bess was buried where she lay and her proud master erected a Cairn on the site. Bess has remained the tangible link between man and animal that sacrificed so much in WWI. Therefore the selection of McKenzie and Bess to be represented on the ANZAC Memorial is a reminder that although many fell, there are survivors left to remember and continue the traditions of ANZAC.
The Cairn Erected to Bess.
Situated a few miles from the rural township of Bulls, North Island, New Zealand.
The mare lived to a great age of twenty-four, and was buried where she dropped.
The Cairn stands to remind us all of the heroics of man and horse in the deserts of the Middle East.

The Bulls Museum is located in the same area.

Sculpting began on the monument but unfortunately Gilbert died before it was finished, a report at the time saying "the execution of a colossal task far beyond his experience and physical powers broke Gilbert's heart."  Paul Montford, a leading British sculptor, was chosen to carry on the work.  He worked steadily but the memorial did not seem to show the results of his efforts.  The task was passed on to another Australian sculptor, Sir Bertram Mackennal who, with a team of British assistants completed the monument but he too died before he had the honour of seeing it unveiled.
On 23 November 1932 it was unveiled on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand Governments by Australia's war time Prime Minister W. M Hughes who was on his way back from a League of Nations meeting in Europe. The proceedings were broadcast by radio telephone over the 15,000 miles (24,000 kilometres) between Egypt and Australia, the first such direct broadcast between those two countries.

On the night of 26 December, 1956, during the Suez conflict, an Egyptian crowd attacked the ANZAC monument, smashing it with hammers and large stones. Egyptian newspaper Al Akhbar reported the memorial would be blown up with dynamite. Police were posted beside the memorial to protect it and forbade the use of explosives but took no steps to prevent youths defacing it. It was pulled from its base and smashed beyond repair. The mob tore off the legs and tail of the New Zealander's horse, smashed away the legs, tail and half the head of the Australian's horse and sawed off the head, arms and legs of the New Zealander.  The figure of the Australian light horseman disappeared. When peace returned to the area the United Arab Republic agreed to the request of the Australian and New Zealand Governments to release the damaged memorial and its polished Gabo Island granite plinth which were then shipped to Australia.

After the destruction of the ANZAC Memorial in Egypt in 1956 the Australian and New Zealand governments decided to build a replacement monument and site it in Australia, and in 1964 the reproduction was completed and erected in Albany, Western Australia. It is at this point, nearly fifty years after the end of the Great War, when many of the old soldiers had passed on, that the "Monument Saga" takes on some strange new twists. Various Australian government offices begin referring to the monument as the "Light Horse Monument" and introduce stories of the New Zealander represented on the monument being rescued heroically from his wounded horse by an Australian Light Horseman.
Also In-fighting between two Australian politicians had come to an impasse as to where this copy should have been placed, so in a reconciliatory gesture a second copy was made and erected in Canberra ACT.
Incredibly, one erroneous report suggested this monument is of an Australian Light Horseman coming to the aid of a fallen New Zealander during a charge at El Arish. (There was no attack by ANZAC forces or anybody else on the township of El Arish, Turkish forces vacated El Arish well before the advancing ANZAC's took the town).
Why would these stories start? They certainly need to be corrected. Is there more than just a little jingoism creeping in. When we take a closer look at these copies of the memorial made in 1964/1968 we see there have been two major changes to the sculptures - In the 1932 original, the Light Horseman, with his rifle clutched in his right hand is clearly in the process of dismount as he looks downwards and lifts his seat to dismount, it appears that both ANZAC soldiers are preparing to begin their assault on foot as infantrymen. The New Zealander's rifle is held well elevated and presented at the ready. When comparred to these later sculptures both soldiers are set in quite different posses. The Australian is now set upright and more aggressive looking forward into the distant horizon, the New Zealander, far less aggressive stance than the original with his rifle dropped away from an advancing pose.
Perhaps then it is not jingoism rearing its head but ignorance of the procedures and actions our forefathers were engaged in, and therefore misunderstood by Australian officials? Certainly the concept of Bess being injured was not true - perhaps the sculptor commissioned in 1964 was also ignorant of military tactics used by the mounted soldiers of WWI. That may account for him making two such dramatic changes from the original awarded and accepted design.

Melbourne sculptor and former official war artist Raymond Ewers and his assistant Cliff Reynolds reconstructed the statuary, first fashioning a clay working model one sixth the size of the original. From this plaster impressions were taken, providing a more permanent medium as a full-size model. This was then shipped in sections to Italy where the final bronze casting was undertaken by founder P. Bataglia of Milan.
The Australian Returned Services League and the New Zealand Returned Services Association agreed that it should be erected in Albany overlooking King George Sound where the first Anzac convoy had assembled before departure. The New Zealand Government gave its approval and agreed to pay half the cost.  The Albany suggestion met with opposition, led by MP Sir Wilfred Kent-Hughes, one of only two light-horsemen in the Federal Parliament.  He said all the Desert Mounted Corps Associations, except the 10th Light Horse Association based in Western Australia, wanted the memorial re-erected in Canberra, that location being more accessible to the majority of potential viewers. However, a decision was made by the Minister for the Interior, Gordon Freeth, who also represented Albany in Parliament, to proceed and the re-created memorial on its original base was unveiled in Albany on 11 October 1964, by the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. The crowd attending the ceremony numbered several thousand and included about 160 medalled veterans of the Light Horse Brigade and several New Zealand campaigners as guests of honour.
Agitation continued and another replica was erected in Anzac Parade in Canberra. It was unveiled by the Australian Prime Minister, John Gorton, on 19 August 1968.
Some years after its re-construction the Albany memorial began to show signs of weathering and corrosion. The stonework became stained by algae, the bronze statue was pitted and water entered the inside of the monument causing more damage. In February 1977 a $1000 grant from the Commonwealth Government was use to have the stonework chemically cleaned and damage to the bronze repaired to prevent the entry of water.
In 1985, the head of one of the horses on the Port Said monument, the only remaining fragment, was placed on a 15 year loan from the Australian War Memorial to the Albany Residency Museum.

The ANZAC MEMORIAL (left) This first copy now stands at Albany, Perth - site of the departure to Egypt of the New Zealand and Australian force in 1914. The second copy of the memorial stands in ANZAC Parade, Canberra.
Bess poses with trooper Mckenzie for the ANZAC Memorial sculptors after both had returned to New Zealand after the war. Trooper Clutha McKenzie had been blinded during an action on Gallipoli and Bess was the only horse to return home that departed with the Main Body - both were selected to represent the New Zealand ANZAC's on the famed memorial.
awm photo
From The Auckland Weekly News 14/10/15
Trooper McKenzie, Clutha. The son of NZ’s High Commissioner, he is now in the NZ Hospital at Walton on Thames. He went through a very bad time. He was struck by a shell on the morning of August 9. It was the shell which killed his commanding officer, Colonel MALONE. From the first, Tpr Mackenzie felt that his sight was destroyed but he made a terrible effort to prevent himself losing consciousness and crept on his hands and knees away from the scene

As of December 2006 - Who says What.
The Australian Government, National Capital Authority - Canberra
Calls the ANZAC Memorial the..."The Desert Mounted Corps Memorial is a free-standing, cast bronze figurative sculpture, set on a granite base. It depicts a mounted Australian Light Horseman defending a New Zealander who stands beside his wounded horse."

Digger History web site: "...It is a replica of the original memorial which stood at Port Said in Egypt depicting a mounted Australian Light-Horseman defending a New Zealander standing beside his wounded horse. "
Australian Memorials: " more commonly known as the Light Horse Memorial ...a replica of the original memorial which stood at Port Said in Egypt depicting a mounted Australian Light-Horseman defending a New Zealand Mounted Rifleman standing beside his wounded horse. It is said to be based on an incident in the charge at El Arish in 1917..." (uncorrected copy still being posted as of November 2008)

There are many other examples available.

A New Zealand perspective:

For the New Zealanders who died on those far flung battlefields of the Middle East in World War One and the New Zealand men and women who donated money and time to honour the comradeship of ANZAC we ask our Australian cousins to revisit the purpose and commitment of the original idea to name this monument the "ANZAC Memorial".
In making donations, the people of New Zealand fully realised that this monument would not be seen by many of their countrymen when it was erected in far off Egypt. But it was enough to know that the world at large would be informed, that along with Australia, New Zealand did its bit in the Great War. That they were there and they made a difference.
When the monument was destroyed in the riots and a replica was mooted for Australia, again the realisation was that the monument would not be seen by many New Zealanders, however we gladly paid our share of costs - again the point remained - we were proud of our servicemen and what they were able to achieve, and to tell this time our Australians neighbours that we were there with them and played our part.
For various Australian civic leaders and organisations to promote this monument as the "Light Horse Memorial " belittles the other players who are etched in stone at the base. To also suggest that the monument shows an Australian helping out a New Zealander is a little trite and certainly untrue.
Because "Bess" was asked by the New Zealand people to be used in the design of the monument, is not to say a sculptor could not utilise that likeness to represent a horse being hit by rifle fire, and dropping to her haunches wounded. For the uninformed, and at first glance, that could be the deduction of a casual observer. However knowing the dismount procedures and infantry tactics used by the ANZAC horsemen, and the lack of any recorded reference otherwise to state that indeed the sculptor was to show a shot horse, then this monument shows two brothers-in-arms about to engage the enemy on foot as they were trained to do. There are no assumptions decreed otherwise until 1964 when Australian politicians introduce the reference that an "Australian is helping out his fallen partner."
We suggest that Australian's look at a similar instance where Englishman T.E. Lawrence, either wrote or misled the greater British public by not including or exaggerating relevant facts about his actions during WWI. That he insinuated and allowed others to assume and promote as fact that it was he and his Arab Legion that defeated the Turks in the Middle East. That it was he that led the "British" victorious into Damascus. These statements were falsehoods that should have been addressed and exposed at the time of his book release "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" in 1935.
In not correcting such outrageous claims is to demean and belittle the memory of Australian, Sergeant Frank Organ, Military Medal, and thousands of his fellow troopers of the Light Horse as they fought to defeat the Turk at Damascus on the night of September 30th 1918, while Lawrence and his band slept soundly at Kwise many miles away.