Trooper meets up with a horse from home

Name: Geoffrey Armstrong
Date: 1915-1918
Unit: 4th Light Horse Brigade
Location: Gallipoli, Middle East

Life is full of coincidences but when Trooper Geoffrey Huie Armstrong helped to unload Australian-bred horses in the Middle East after the Gallipoli campaign, he certainly did not expect to find one from his home town, let alone from the very station on which he was born.

Geoffrey Armstrong was born on Milroy Station near Brewarrina, New South Wales, in 1891. He was brought up on the station and later went as a jackeroo to Saltern Creek Station near Barcaldine in Queensland, so he was completely at home on horseback.

He enlisted in early 1915 and spent time training at Enogerra near Brisbane before becoming a member of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, part of the 4th Light Horse Brigade.

The Brigade sailed for the Middle East with their mounts but when the convoy was about 200 miles south of Adelaide they were ordered to return to Adelaide to disembark the horses.

It transpired that when it was realised the horses were unsuitable for the terrain at Gallipoli, the decision was taken to have them off-loaded. The men of the Light Horse discovered they would be reinforcements, fighting on foot.

Having survived Gallipoli, Trooper Armstrong returned to the Middle East and began training in desert warfare. When their replacement mounts arrived, the horses were sent inland by train and soldiers were detailed to unload and take details of the horses.

Trooper Armstrong set to work and the first horse he handled had the brand of Milroy Station - indicating it had been born and bred there, just like himself. Hardly able to believe his luck he made representations to his commanding officer, Colonel Grant, for permission to have the horse assigned to him, which the colonel willingly gave.

There's little doubt that having Miss Milroy, as Trooper Armstrong called her, was a huge boost to his moral, and gave him great comfort to know that his mount was almost one of the family.

Miss Milroy carried Trooper Armstrong throughout the desert campaign, including the famous charge on Beersheeba which routed the Turks and gave the Allies access to vital water supplies.

The material for this article was supplied by Mrs Eville Foster, daughter of Trooper Armstrong


Last updated: 31 May 2019

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DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2019), Trooper meets up with a horse from home, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 14 August 2020, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/stories-service/australians-war-stories/trooper-meets-horse-home
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