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From the orchards of White Rock to the battlefields of Egypt | Yesterday, Today

WITH the Bathurst Show over once again, this week's image has an association with the annual event. The scene shows Ralph Whichello Goddard of White Rock and two other men constructing a haystack.
Ralph had served overseas during World War One in the Middle East and as part of the Australian Light Horse fighting the Turks and Germans.

Ralph was already a good handler of horses and had numbers of horses and teams on the farm that belonged to the Wark family.

The Warks had a reasonable area of their farm covered in orchards, mainly a variety of apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots and cherries.

Each year, Ralph entered the competitive section of the Bathurst Show, as well as bringing his draught horses to Bathurst to enter in the horse section. The Wark girls also entered their ponies and often won various ribbons.

Ralph had loads of successes over the years.

For countless years, Ralph brought in a load of hay on one of his wagons for competitors to use at the show as part of his contribution.

He was known to donate boxes of apples from the orchard to the local primary schools to make into toffee apples to sell on their stalls at the yearly show.

Ralph knew the names of all his horses. The majority were Clydesdales, a hardy draught horse noted for their strength and good temperament.

The early Scottish settlers in the Bathurst district usually preferred the Clydesdale horses, a Scottish breed of draught horse, as they were familiar with them.

The draught horses were valued as a working horse on many large and small farms throughout the Bathurst district and indeed Australia.

Many draught horses were shipped over to Egypt and Palestine to do the heavy work along with other lighter horses that the troopers rode.

Troopships were also modified to carry the horses as well as the Light Horsemen.

The most favoured trooper's horse was a mixed breed known as a waler, with most bred in NSW.

The heavy draught horses were vital for moving supplies, equipment, guns and ammunition, though tens of thousands of the magnificent animals died from exhaustion or injury.

Ralph was single and aged 22 when he enlisted on October 14, 1915. His father, and next-of-kin, was William John Goddard.

Ralph was assigned to the 7th Australian Light Horse Regiment, as part of the 14th Reinforcements.

Initial training for the 7th Light Horse Regiment had occurred at the Liverpool Training Camp when Ralph enlisted, but the men were later moved to Holsworthy Training Camp.

Trooper Goddard and his mates embarked from Sydney on board H.M.A.T. A57 Malakuta on March 16, 1916. The troopship had been modified to carry the regiment's horses and fodder and was leased by the Commonwealth Government until January 24, 1917.

By late February 1916, the 7th Light Horse Regiment moved to join the 2nd Light Horse Brigade in Egypt.

After more training, Ralph took part in the defence of the Suez Canal. Afterwards, the troopers were ordered to the Romani region to bolster local defences. Here they defeated the Ottoman Canal Expeditionary force.

There was little rest for the mounted horsemen. The Allies then advanced over the Sinai to El Arish region, and finally Rafa in January 1917. Ralph was now part of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, with about 770 other men riding camels, before proceeding to Palestine.

He was also a gunner in the Lewis Machine Gun Section.

The camels transported the cameleers into battle, whereupon the riders would dismount to fight.

They later moved to the Jordan Valley and kept harassing the enemy until the Ottomans called for an Armistice on October 30, 1918.

Ralph returned to Australia on July 9, 1919, and to growing apples and other fruit.

Alan McRae is with the Bathurst District Historical Society.

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Article written by Alan McRae courtesty of the Western Advocate (ACM)

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