Horses for courses

Anybody who knows a little about the role played by Australian horses in World War I will know that the story did not end well for the horses: 136,000 left these shores, and one returned. Readers of Morris Gleitzman’s Loyal Creatures (Viking, $19.99 pb, 160 pp, 9780670077427) who are unaware of this statistic might be in for a shock.

At the outbreak of war, Frank Ballantyne, not quite sixteen, is working with his father, sinking bores and locating water for farmers in the outback. It is a skill that will serve Frank and the army well in the deserts of Egypt and Palestine, which, after lying about his age, he finally reaches – with his horse Daisy, and his father, who has also enlisted – in 1915.

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Published in September 2014 no. 364

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