Memorial to Bess the horse

Memorial to Bess the horse Memorial to Bess the horse Memorial to Bess the horse Memorial to Bess the horse

Only four of the more than 10,000 horses New Zealand sent overseas during the First World War returned home. Bess, the best known, is commemorated in a private memorial near Bulls that has become a de facto memorial to all the New Zealand horses that served during the First World War. A photograph of Bess with a wounded New Zealand Mounted Rifles trooper, Clutha Mackenzie, inspired the erection of a memorial to ‘commemorate the deeds of Australian and New Zealand mounted troops in the Palestine campaign’ in Port Said, Egypt. This memorial was relocated to Albany, Western Australia in 1956.

Bess was one of more than 1000 horses donated to the government for military purposes when the war broke out. The four-year-old black thoroughbred, originally named Zelma, was allocated to the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment and selected by Captain C.G. Powles, who renamed her Bess. She served him throughout the war in Egypt, Sinai, Palestine and France. After her return to New Zealand in 1920, Bess helped Powles perform his duties as commander at the GHQ school at Trentham and then headmaster at Flock House, an agricultural training school for the dependants of war veterans.

Bess died on land near Flock House in 1934. Powles buried her at this site and erected the memorial. Square in shape and topped by a large rock, the memorial has two plaques. One lists the countries in which Bess served during and after the war. The other bears a text in Arabic: ‘In the Name of the Most High God’.

Bulls Museum have a permanent display on Bess and the other horses, including King's saddle.

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6 comments have been posted about Memorial to Bess the horse

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jemma roberts

Posted: 07 Jul 2014

Hi, I'm an artist with family in NZ and I live in AUST. Interested in putting together images& doing paintings & prints related to campaigns in Middle East WW1. Images with horses particularly. Are many other photographs available. thanks Jemma

Fred.Macdonald

Posted: 22 Mar 2011

THE ACTUAL DATE OF RETURN TO WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND WAS SATURDAY 6TH JULY 1920. FOUR HORSES ARRIVED ON BOARD S.S. WESTMEATH AND BERTHED AT KINGS WHARF. THE HORSES WERE BESS(COLONEL CHARLES GUY POWLES)DOLLY(GENERAL SIR ALEXANDER HAMILTON RUSSELL)NIGGER(THE LATE CAPTAIN MAURICE GEORGE KING)AND BEAUTIFUL(THE LATE CAPTAIN RICHARD ERROL WARDELL RIDDIFORD).
WE HAVE THE ARMY DISCHARGE PAPERS AND HAVE RESEARCHED S.S. MWESTMEATH TO ESTABLISH THE FACTS.
S.S.WESTMEATH DEPARTED LIVERPOOL 23-4-1920 AND SAILED VIA GLASGOW,BRISTOL,PANAMA CANAL(FIRE ON BOARD, NO.4 HOLD 6 DAYS OUT OF PANAMA DESTROYED THE HORSES FEED SO THE MEN FED THEM WITH THEIR OWN BREAD TO KEEP THEM ALIVE).
ARRIVED AUCKLAND 19-6-1920 AND ON TO WELLINGTON WHERE THE HORSES WERE DISEMBARKED.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT FRED. MACDONALD 063646616 0211468938 P.O.BOX 15013 OTAKI RAILWAY 5543 EMAIL fearless_fred@clear.net.nz.

Lorna

Posted: 28 Apr 2010

Fred, Further to our talk this morning, I will be looking at bringing down some fellow riders and their horses for next year's ANZAC service from Hawkes Bay. So keep in touch please.

Tracy

Posted: 21 Apr 2010

Thank you very much Fred, you've been extremely helpful and it's greatly appreciated. It will be an honour to attend on Sunday. Kindest regards.

Fred Macdonald

Posted: 21 Apr 2010

The Memorial service for Bess is to be held on Anzac Day 9.00am. Travel West from Bulls on Parewanui Road(towards Flock House) and turn right into Forest Road and the Memorial is a short distance along on the LEFT HAND side. I can be contacted on 063646616 or 0211468938 for any further information required. Fred Macdonald

Tracy

Posted: 20 Apr 2010

Is anyone able to tell me please if there is to be an Anzac Day Service at the Monument to Bess this year, or at least put me in touch with someone who would know? Out of respect, I have wanted to attend for quite some time, but nobody has been able to tell me locally. Thank you for any help you are able to give me. Best wishes.