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 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 their 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 force, 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.