Bill the Bastard: The Story Of Australia's Greatest War Horse

Bill the Bastard: The Story Of Australia's Greatest War Horse

Roland Perry / Apr 21, 2021

Bill the Bastard The Story Of Australia s Greatest War Horse Bill was massive He had power intelligence and unmatched courage In performance and character he stood above all the other Australian horses sent to the Middle East in the Great War But as w

  • Title: Bill the Bastard: The Story Of Australia's Greatest War Horse
  • Author: Roland Perry
  • ISBN: 9781743312629
  • Page: 100
  • Format: Paperback
  • Bill was massive He had power, intelligence and unmatched courage In performance and character, he stood above all the other 200,000 Australian horses sent to the Middle East in the Great War But as war horses go, he had one serious problem No one could ride him but one man, Major Michael Shanahan Some even thought Bill took a sneering pleasure in watching would be riBill was massive He had power, intelligence and unmatched courage In performance and character, he stood above all the other 200,000 Australian horses sent to the Middle East in the Great War But as war horses go, he had one serious problem No one could ride him but one man, Major Michael Shanahan Some even thought Bill took a sneering pleasure in watching would be riders hit the dust Bill the bastard is the remarkable tale of a bond between a determined trooper and his stoic but cantankerous mount They fought together They depended on each other for survival And when the chips were down, Bill s heroic efforts and exceptional instincts in battle saved the lives of Shanahan and four of his men.By September 1918, Bill the Bastard was known by the entire Light Horse regiment, who used his name not as an insult, but as a term of endearment Bill had become a legend, a symbol of the courage and unbreakable will of the Anzac mounted force There was no other horse like Bill the Bastard.

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      Posted by:Roland Perry
      Published :2021-01-23T20:40:50+00:00

    About "Roland Perry"

      • Roland Perry

        Professor Roland Perry born 11 October 1946 is a Melbourne based author best known for his books on history, especially Australia in the two world wars His Monash The Outsider Who Won The War, won the Fellowship of Australian Writers Melbourne University Publishing Award in 2004 The judges described it as a model of the biographer s art In the Queen s Birthday Honours of June 2011, Perry was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to literature as an author.In October 2011, Monash University awarded Perry a Fellowship for high achievement as a writer, author, film producer and journalist.His sports books include biographies of Sir Donald Bradman, Steve Waugh, Keith Miller and Shane Warne Perry has written on espionage, specialising in the British Cambridge Ring of Russian agents He has also published three works of fiction and produced than 20 documentary films Perry has been a member of the National Archives of Australia Advisory Council since 2006 In late 2012 Perry accepted an adjunct appointment at Monash University as a Professor, with the title Writer in Residence in the University s Arts Faculty.


    1. I'm a bit bleary eyed as I virtually stayed up all night to read this. I had never heard of Bill the Bastard before and that's a great pity as he clearly is worthy of national recognition like Phar Lap. A big horse with a big heart and an attitude to match - that just makes him even more appealing. One of my uncles who was a stockman had a horse that also was a 'one man horse' and we were all banned from going anywhere near the horse 'Fly Away'. The name told what would happen if anyone other th [...]

    2. What an amazing part of Australian war history. I admit I was not looking forward to reading this book, as I had anticipated yet another dreary account of Australia at war. This book was both a refreshing surprise and a brilliant, inspiring story. It truly is Australia's answer to Michael Morpurgos' War Horse. The story of an amazing animal, a Waler horse affectionately named Bill the Bastard due to his unwillingness to let anyone mount him for more than a few seconds; and the select few who he [...]

    3. A blend of fact and fiction, based on a remarkable war horse. Although I feel as if I could tell where the facts ended and the fiction began, it is still a truly amazing story and an insight into World War I and the great bond the Light Horsemen shared with their mounts.Where Michael Morpugo's 'War Horse' is a sweet fictitious creature, Bill was a real horse and from the sound of it not a very easy one to get along with. Some of the references to horses in the book are inaccurate or unlikely but [...]

    4. Books about war are not a topic that "like" is the right word for. I enjoy books about animals and I like the way Roland Perry writes to tell a story. Remarkable is a word to describe not only Bill but also the men, women and other horses that shared his military service. What makes me so sad is what happened to the horses that did not return to Australia, this part of Bill's story certainly does not make for an enjoyable read but the rest of the book does.

    5. I didn't intend on reading this book. My husband was given a paperback copy by a customer at his work. He read it and raved about it so I decided to give it a go. I loved it too. The author has a particular style to his writing and includes factual details which makes the story all the better. If you like war history and horses then this book will be of interest to you. I'm now reading another of Roland's books, The Australian Lighthorse. I guess I can be counted as a fan.

    6. Loved this book so much. The love these Aussie Diggers had for their horses was so strong. To choose to shoot your own horse at the end of the war because you owe them so much better than to be left in a foreign country. Lots of tears fell reading this book. What a hero Bill was working beside Simpson and his donkey for a while :(

    7. Great book, about a forgotten hero of the first world war. I found the ending sad, it was awful what was done with these horses at the end of the war.I was also upset about the majors story and how it ended, (How could she!!!!)

    8. Thoroughly enjoyed this historical tale of Bill, the Light Horse and a huge part of the Australian legend in Gallipoli and Bathsheba.

    9. What a fantastic book. I read a review of this and as I am always a fan of animal stories, thought I would see what it was like. Well, I had it finished by the end of the day. Bill the horse was quite the character, indeed. Quite a humerous read, I laughed out loud at some of the antics described. Obviously quite an intelligent horse who always wanted his own way. Like the other review, it was so sad to read that the rest of our valiant horses didn't make it back home. So sadNot a big fan of war [...]

    10. i don't usually like biographies and especially ones about horses that don't come home. i liked that it was from everyone's point of view and that there were more then one story line going on. the ending was very sad, and i didn't like that at the end where she leaves and that his real love chose someone else. i loved bill and have known a few horses that are like him. excellently written i couldn't put it down and a story that could be very heartbreaking to those who lived through the war or th [...]

    11. I absolutely loved the Audio of this book just Brilliantly read by David Trednnick and what a magnificent creature I had heard alot at the time of the horses in the Australian Cavalry that went over in North Africa - Arabia during the War I and to listen to this account was such an eye opener as to the events that occurred at the time and that of the men, the women and the amazing horses who lived through this mind boggling time in history. Beautifully written in the old style of the old Austr [...]

    12. If you are a lover of horses or Australian/Military history or a combination of, then I highly recommend this book. It is an amazing story about the bravery of animals and their human counterparts. As well as a true insight into the significant role that the Australian Light Horse played during World War I.I would love to see this book become a movie, following in the likes of other great Aussie movies such as Gallipoli and The Lighthorsemen.

    13. Initially, I found this book hard to read as I found the author put too much detail about who said and did what. But on further reading, I soon fell in love with Bill, the mighty independent whaler and became enthralled by his story. As a war biographies,I was not expecting much, however on completing reading this book I feel I will never forget Bill the bastard or his rider - Michael Shanahan. This book is most definitely a "good read".

    14. This is an amazing book about a special bond between Major Michael Shanahan and a horse called 'Bill the Bastard', You will enjoy this book if you are interested in Australian military history or horses. Bill was a real character and was a remarkably intelligent beast. A lovely book about a wonderful horse. There are sad moments such as when the Australians decided to destroy their mounts rather than leave them behind in the Middle East. I loved this book and will probably read it again.

    15. This was a Bookclub pick so wasn't sure I would enjoy it as I don't like books about the war. BUTis book was fantastic. Making the horse, Bill the Bastard, almost the main character really helps to draw you in and to care what happens to him and those around him. As it is all based on true facts it really hits home what our guys and horses went through. It really showcased our Aussie sense of humour and companionship.

    16. As a horseman myself I found much of this book extremely far fetched and unbelievable. I began reading with a great expectation but very early in the book thought what a load of rubbish the description of young Towers trying to ride Bill bareback set the tone for me. Very disappointed in the book.

    17. An interesting insight into the First World War and the original Anzac's. Based around the light horse brigade and the australian soldiers and their mounts in particular, the story follows the war with Bill, a huge waler horse. He has a low tolerance of people, but comes to respect one in particular.

    18. I loved it. It gives a good persecptive of the war times, activities, stuff like that. It's really cool because it mentions a few well known Australians during the war times A.B.'Banjo'Paterson, Simpson and his donkey and someone known as 'Galloping Jack- who ever that is and I don't want to know, he ran eight horses to death!

    19. This was a fabulous book about the Australian Light Horse and their battles in WWI, and in particular a horse dubbed Bill the Bastard, who was huge but would only allow one man to ride him. The two of them won the DSO for actions against the Turks in the Middle East. Apparently there is a statue of them in Murrumburrah, NSW which I intend to look for when next I am there.

    20. Brought a tear to the eye. A simple read, certainly appropriate to be reading on the ANZAC Day long weekend, lest we forget. All those poor horses' lives wasted at the end, such a tragedy I would hope not happen in this day and age.

    21. Bill the Bastard - what a horse! This was a hard to put down book that delivered some surprising insights into WWI and Australia's presence in Egypt. Bill may not have been a loveable horse, but he was definitely memorable.

    22. Roland Perry does a very good job of combining war history with the story of this irascible horse. Bill is going to serve the war effort in his own way and woe-betide anyone who thinks otherwise! A lovely story which illustrates that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink!

    23. A good story, easy to read. Maybe a bit fanciful, stories elaborated over the years but doesn't take away from an enjoyable and at times humorous book.

    24. For a war account this book was so very easy to read whilst giving you a real feeling of what was happening. Brilliantly written

    25. 4.5 stars. I enjoyed this so much. Think there is a little bit of embellishing in the story, non-the-less, it is a great read.

    26. Well researched, interesting but avoided sentimentality. A story of understated heroes and real courage despite the attitudes and sometimes poor decisions of those designated to take command.

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