A lonely old figure shrouded in mist stands on the bluestone steps of Anzac Hostel in Brighton, Melbourne waiting to share his wartime memories.
This remains a strong and clear image in the mind of Dave Tyson more than a quarter of a century later.
Dave, who has a remarkable display of Australian Light Horse memorabilia now located at Dadswells Bridge, met the man while an ambulance officer in Melbourne almost 30 years ago.
‘I was tending this lovely old chap in the ambulance, trying to cheer him up. He was well into his 90’s and somehow our conversation got around to his service days’.
‘All of a sudden, he stared off into the distance with a fixed gaze, his arthritic old hands rose up clutching imaginary reins in one hand and a bayonet in the other and spurring on his horse; reliving some wild dash over trenches’.
Dave, who at the time knew nothing about the history of the Australian Light Horse, asked the man if they could meet and record some of his wartime memories.
‘He was a great old chap; we talked for hours and finally he said ‘Son, can you lift that box down off the top of the cupboard?’ -which I did.
‘Have a look inside’ and there was an old slouch hat with a magnificent Emu plume‘.
‘It was a strange feeling just holding that hat. I knew I was holding some sort of Australian icon and I needed to learn a lot more about it’.
Dave never saw the old digger again, but the meeting unleashed a passion to find out more about the history of the Australian Light Horse.
Since then, Dave has recorded about 50 interviews with war veterans and is in the process of compiling a book titled “Kangaroo Feathers; Personal glimpses from Australian Light Horsemen”
His main focus has been on the Australian Light Horse after 1903.
Australian Light Horse officially disbanded in the 1940’s during the Second World War and the mounted troops were transferred to tanks.
Dave said ‘While living in Beechworth, Vic for ten years, I was blessed to make a dear (now late) friend in Ian Jones– expert Ned Kelly and Light Horse historian, author, and screen writer, director and producer (The Sullivans, Homicide, Matlock Police, Division 4 and The Lighthorsemen film 1987).
Ian left some very important items to our Collection, including a 4thLight Horse tunic from a ‘Beersheba Charger’ and German machine gunner’s armour’.
Without Ian’s help we may not have been able to present our display so soon’.
The Australian Light Horse Heritage Collection is at the Dadswells Bridge home of Dave & Leonie Tyson and is open to the public admission free.
Australian Light Horse Heritage Collection
Dave & Leonie Tyson
363 Stapledons Road
DADSWELLS BRIDGE, VIC. 3385