Sandy – The only one to return

Sandy, a war horse well known to many as the only horse returning to Australia from World War 1, now has his very own statue in Tallangatta, his hometown in Victoria.

Originally used as a general working horse on the O’Donnell farm at Old Tallangatta, brothers Francis and Jack owned Sandy, and donated their beloved work horse to the Australian War effort. Little did Francis O’Donnell know of the magnitude on Australian history, his decision would have. The Legend of “Sandy” the only horse to return to Australia from WW1 would begin.

Major General William Throsby Bridges was a tall statured man at 6ft 7inch. Having already a distinguished Military Career, he was then appointed to the Command of the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Forces ( A.I.F).

There were 169,000 horses shipped to Egypt from Australia for the use of the A.I.F. Bridges initiated a campaign of intense training. He had three assigned horses for his own private mount and Sandy was one of them. All the other horses sent overseas were either shot or given to farmers if they wanted them. Imagine the sorrow of a soldier having to have the horse which carried him in battle put down.

Sandy was one of the 6,100 horses sent to Gallipoli.

Bridges was shot in the leg by a Turkish sniper in Gallipoli on 15th May 1915. He died a few days later from his wounds, on the way to hospital in Egypt.

Bridges had only one dying wish: his beloved Sandy, be returned home for retirement at war’s end.

It wasn’t until the following year October 1917, after months of correspondence between Australian and British authorities that per-mission was granted for the War Horse to be returned to Australia. The Major’s dying wish was going to be granted. In May 1918 after 3 months of veterinary observation, Sandy was declared disease free and fit to travel home.

On 7th September 1918, Sandy and Private Jordan, boarded the S.S. Booral at Liverpool in England and after weeks at sea arrived in Port Melbourne on 13th of November. This was just two days after the war was declared over.

Sandy lived out his days at “Remount Hill” central remount depot at Maribyrnong, in Melbourne’s West. With his statue now in place, the legend of SANDY will live on in Tallangatta.

OTI’s Welfare Program is proud to sponsor the promotion of his statue to raise awareness for his unique story.

Part of the above is an excerpt of the flyer of Sandy’s history from SANDY THE WAR HORSE MEMORIAL COMMITTEE INC. Find the full story on their website here.