Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges

Sir William Throsby Bridges (1861-1915), soldier, was born on 18 February 1861, at Greenock, Scotland, son of William Wilson Somerset Bridges, naval officer and his wife Mary Hill, née Throsby, great-niece of Charles Throsby of Moss Vale, New South Wales.

He was called upon to set up Australia's first military college Duntroon at Canberra where he became the first commandant of the college until May  1914.

After the declaration of war Bridges was instructed by the government to raise an Australian contingent for service in Europe. His determination that the troops would fight as an entity instead of being fragmented among British formations did much to satisfy nationalist sentiment and set a precedent retained throughout the war.

Bridges was appointed commander of the Australian Imperial Force (a name he chose himself), with the rank of major general, in August 1914.

In the following weeks Bridges became well known to his troops for the first time, through his daily inspections of the firing line; during these he showed great disregard for his personal safety. On the morning of 15 May he was shot by a sniper in Monash Valley and both artery and femoral vein in his right thigh were severed. He was evacuated to the hospital ship Gascon but his condition was such that doctors decided against operating to remove his leg. The wound became gangrenous and he died en route to hospital in Egypt on 18 May. He had been appointed K.C.B. the previous day.

His remains were interred at Alexandria but in June it was decided to return the body to Australia for burial. After a memorial service in St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, on 2 September, and a funeral procession through the city, his body was transferred to Canberra and reburied overlooking the Royal Military College.

(Australian Dictionary of Biography)

Bridges Gallipoli.JPG

Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. 3 May 1915. At General Bridges' first Headquarters at Anzac, during lunch. The officers in the photograph, reading from left to right, are: General Bridges, (in dugout); Lieutenant Riches; Private Wicks (Batman to General Bridges); Captain Foster (Aide-de-Camp); Major Gellibrand; Colonel Howse; Major Blamey; Colonel White; Major Wagstaff. The position was exposed to shrapnel fire and Major Gellibrand was wounded there.

The shelter where General William Throsby Bridges KCB CMG lay after receiving the wound from which he succumbed a few days later on 18 May 1915.

Sandy (Major General William Throsby Bridges' favourite horse)

The only horse to return from the First World War

In the First World War 136,000 “walers” (the general name applied to Australian horses abroad) were sent overseas for use by the Australian Imperial Force and the British and Indian governments. One horse from the 136,000 made it back to Australia.

Sandy belonged to Major General Sir William Bridges, who was killed at Gallipoli. He was one of 6,100 horses who had embarked for Gallipoli. However, very few of the animals were put ashore, as Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood decided there was not room or requirement on ANZAC Cove. On 5 May Birdwood sought approval to send the horses back to Alexandria.

From 1 August 1915 Sandy was in the care of Captain Leslie Whitfield, an Australian Army Veterinary Corps officer in Egypt. Sandy remained in Egypt until he and Whitfield were transferred to France during March 1916.

In October 1917 Senator George Pearce, Minister for Defence, called for Sandy to be returned to Australia for pasture at Duntroon. In May 1918 the horse was sent from the Australian Veterinary Hospital at Calais to the Remount Depot at Swaythling in England. He was accompanied by Private Archibald Jordon, who had been at the hospital since April 1917 and classed as permanently unfit for further active service.

After three months of veterinary observation, Sandy was declared free of disease. In September 1918 he was boarded on the freighter Booral, sailing from Liverpool and arriving in Melbourne in November. Sandy was turned out to graze at the Central Remount Depot at Maribyrnong.

Sandy saw out the rest of his days at the Remount Depot. Although he was originally intended to go to Duntroon, his increasing blindness and debility prompted the decision to have him put down, “as a humane action”, in May 1923. His head and neck were mounted and became part of the Memorial's collection. Sandy was displayed for many years, although is currently not on exhibition owing to deterioration through age.