12 July 2022

'Bill the Bastard' returns home

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Bronze statue of horse Bill The Bastard and soldiers

The bronze ‘Bill the Bastard’ was officially unveiled in Harden Murrumburrah. Photo: Michael McCormack MP Facebook.

A bronze sculpture of Australia’s greatest war horse “Bill the Bastard” has been officially welcomed home to Harden Murrumburrah.

Bill, the First Australian Light Horse was among 29,348 horses shipped from Australia to the Middle East in 1914 to fight in World War I.

The 17.1-hand, fiery chestnut gelding was famous for his buck and pluck.

Member for Riverina Michael McCormack unveiled the life-size statue along with sculptor Carl Valerius and special guests Brigadier Glen Ryan from Victoria Barracks (Sydney) and 97-year-old Keith Taylor from Uranquinty.

READ ALSO Bill the Bastard statue honours a great war horse and a community’s tenacity

The official unveiling of the bronze Bill the Bastard was held with members of the Harden Murrumburrah community on Friday 8 July at Mill Park.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said it was fantastic to see the statue in-situ at Murrumburrah, the birthplace of the First Australian Light Horse.

“This project has been a long time in the works and is an absolute credit to the dedication and perseverance of many deeply passionate members in this community,” she said.

“Bill is a source of great pride for all involved and an absolute drawcard to Harden Murrumburrah and the Hilltops region more broadly.”

The statue of Bill the Bastard was carved by Mr Valerius and bronzed by Matt Crawford of Crawford’s Casting.

Mr Valerius, who previously made a life-size statue of Sir Donald Bradman, said the sculpture was a fabulous outcome for the community.

“To have an idea and believe in it, you can achieve almost anything,” he said.

“I thank the State Government for their support and belief in a little old sculptor in a town like Murrumburrah.”

READ ALSO Raising a great war horse called ‘Bill The Bastard’

The project was financed through $400,000 in funding from NSW Government’s Stronger Communities Fund.

Other major donations and contributions to the project include; $200,000 raised among the local community, $100,000 from the Kruger Trust, $80,000 from Harden Regional Development Corporation and $30,000 from Bill Gibbons of Victoria.

The sculpted depiction of the remarkable feat of Bill and Major Michael Shanahan saving four Tasmanian troopers during the Battle of Romani can be found at the First Australian Horse and Australian Light Horse Memorial precinct in Murrumburrah.

The battle of Romani, fought between 3 and 5 August 1916, finally put a stop to the Turkish threat to the Suez canal and marked the beginning of the British forces’ drive out of Egypt and into Palestine.

Original Article published by Shri Gayathirie Rajen on Region Riverina.

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Maree Myhill11:16 pm 13 Jul 22

Great article of the unveiling of Bill the Bastard, thank you. It’s an amazing sculpture by Carl Valerius!
It was Graham (Graeme?) Taylor, the veterinarian from Harden, who helped to unveil the statue.
97 year old Keith Taylor’s family brought him back to Harden-Murrumburrah (from Uranquinty) for the unveiling of Bill the Bastard. He worked for the O’Connor brothers many years ago. Keith is deaf but was so happy to be there in his wheelchair for the unveiling.

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