Sunday, 12 July 2015

Walers for Haile Selassi, Abyssinia, Ethiopia...

'those who are not noble, run behind the horse'
old Ethiopian saying

His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie
This horse may be Kagnew, the grey Selassie rode in the second war against the Italians. Whether he is Ethiopian, or from British forces or directly from Australia, am not sure yet. 

"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph."
                                                                                                                        H.I.M Haile Selassie. 

Haile Selassie bought Walers in the early 1930's and late 1940's, a good market at the end of the trade for us, however Walers also went to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in other ways. Not a huge market like India but of great interest. What a beautiful ancient land - the Blue Nile, Rift Valley, mountains, rolling plains, highland farms - and an ancient horse culture. Ethiopia is the home of the coffee bean. The world loves it forever. Good coffee is an Ethiopian way of life - if a person dies of poison, Ethiopians murmer "Mmm - bad coffee"! Walers take us to the best places.

The Walers he bought were for the Kebur Zebagya, or Honour Guard. Also known as the Imperial Guard. Initially there were 3,000 men responsible to the head of state only. Numbers gradually increased. Selassie started it in 1917 when he was Regent for Empress Zewditu. He was made Emperor in 1930. 

The Imperial Guard fought heroically during the second Italian war of 1935 -1941, and lost many men. The forces of Abyssinia became guerrilla after Selassie went into exile. He re-instated the Guard upon his return - he was exiled from 1936 to 1941. 

When World War Two was over he sent to Australia to mount the cavalry unit on Walers exclusively. More were bought for the Royal stud to breed future Guard horses. 

The Kebur Zebagya grew when Selassie became Emperor, he had little time to get an army together before Italy, a friend under the League of Nations  treaty, attacked his country. 

The Guard had three infantry battalions, three machine gun companies, two artillery batteries and the horse regiment, divided into separate sections by horses' colour - greys (white), bay, black and chestnut. The riders had a green-khaki uniform, carried a lance and a rifle was slung on their back. Bandoliers to carry rounds went around the horses neck. Ceremonial uniform was a white jacket with gold epaulettes, red aiguilettes, red trousers, black cavalry topboots. The lance was carried upright, a pennant of the country's colours trimmed in gold attached to the top. Guard infantry (foot) soldiers were uniformed but with bare feet to keep them tough, which was traditional. Belgian and Swedish officers were brought in for training before the Italians over-ran Ethiopia. They were advised by Ethiopia to leave as the war got fierce. Cadets and officers were also sent to Europe for training before and after the war. A camel corps was added, and an armoured car squad. 

They numbered about 7,000 men altogether as the Guard slowly increased and had out-stations in the provinces, as well as at HQ in Addis Ababa. After the war a standing army was formed, discussed further on.


Earlier, Walers went to Abyssinia with Napier in 1867 with an invading force - to free captives, not to colonise. They went there during the Soudan war, the Wars of the Dervishes and WW1 and WW2. After all that we sold directly to Abyssinia during Haile Selassi's reign. The excellent horses he kept for military and ceremonial purposes were universally admired.  A valuable post-war market for Australia.

Abyssinia was the name for Ethiopia for about 800 years, widely in use until the mid twentieth century. The older name is Ethiopia. 

Memnon, familiar to those who study the classics, features in Greek legend. Some of these legends have been proved to be historical fact. Troy for example, has been found in Anatolia, Turkey - it was indeed ruined at the time Memnon was fighting there. 

Memnon's father was King Tithonus and his mother was Eos, the dawn. Memnon was the King of Ethiopia. Thus he was a demi-god. Memnon fought for Troy against the invading Greeks, but was slain by Archilles. Eon wept when she saw this, and her tears became the morning dew. She then begged Zeus to immortalise him, and he did. 

Memnon bust, Roman era.
from the Sola Rey website.

The Aethiopis is the long lost seventh of the Epic Cycles - it has the stories that continue where the Iliad (Homer) leaves off. The Aethiopis were five books by Arctinus of Miletus. Ethiopia was far bigger than now. A giant statue of Memnon was made in Eygpt, about 1386 BC. After an earthquake, each morning at dawn it made a poignant noise like harp strings - believed to be Memnon talking with his mother, Dawn. The statue was renovated about 700 BC and the sound ceased. It is thought these statues were originally put up as a King of Egypt and renamed for Memnon. Memnon's courage made him a hero to the ancient Greeks, even although he fought against them. He is immortalised in legend.

Ethiopia is mentioned again, later, in the Old Testament - it being the home of the Queen of Sheba, Moses and King Solomon. 

In Islamic legacy Ethiopia is very special, the Negus (King) being the epitome of justice and Habesha (Ethiopia) a place where human rights were honoured. Bilal ibn Rabah, a freed Ethiopian slave at Mecca, became a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, symbolising his country at the time needed freedom from persecution; and that Islam did not recognise racism. He was appointed the first Muezzin or Crier - calling people to prayer - by Muhammad; he had a beautiful voice.

An ancient country featuring in so many cultures, Ethiopia is also where human beings - homo sapiens or wise man - first evolved. What a history, something for everyone - we're all from Ethiopia!

The wars in the time of Walers...
Napier Expedition... 1867-68
First Italo-Ethiopian War... 1895-96
"Dervish" Wars (Mahardists, Egyptians, Rebels)... 1884-1920
Second Italo-Ethiopian War... 1935-41
Second World War... 1939-45

A huge country, Ethiopia was previously gigantic - a kingdom taking in
parts of Saudi Arabia and Yemen across the Red Sea - and most of Africa apart from the south. Historical articles about Waler exports mostly use the name Abyssinia. The country is now landlocked which usually creates poverty - Ethiopia is trying to growing its economy, which is in poor shape. Human rights and freedom of speech are a concern. Most port trade is done through Djibouti, at great expense, as they don't own the port  - the port our horses once arrived at - then it was a mere 800 kilometre jaunt to their new home at Addis Ababa. 

The language is the ancient Amharic language. 
The patron saint is St George. There are many cultures, languages, religions and animism in the nine major ethnic regions of the country. Folktales are rich in morals and charm, the art exquisite.

Time is completely different in Ethiopia which follows the solar calender - much like the Julian calender - not the Gregorian one most countries use. Hence they are 8 years 'behind' us, by the year number. History is divided into eras. The 24 hour cycle starts at 6 a.m.

Map above - ethnic areas of Ethiopia - map below, religions

Royal horse stables in the Gondar region of Ethiopia, built by Emperor Fasiledes. 
This area is where the Amhara people live, great horse people who still use horses. The horses are decorated beautifully for weddings and special occcasions, and used for every day purposes.
These stables were still in use in Haile Selassi's reign, he stayed in the nearby castle and kept lions in another enclosure.
Some emperors were also buried with their favorite horse in times past; the custom with many horse cultures. Fasiledes buried his war horse in a tomb here, it had saved his life.

Russia has long and close ties to Ethiopia too. The famous poet Alexander Pushkin is descended from an African (probably from Cameroon according to extraordinary research by historian Richard Pankhurst) named Abram Petrovich Gannibal: given as a slave boy to Peter the Great he was freed as a child and became godson to Peter (hence the Petrovich in his name), raised to the nobility, married, had children, became general-in-chief to the Imperial Russian Army, and fought in several bloody battles, being tragically killed in a minor skirmish - his life story is extraordinary. The English actor and comedian, Peter Ustinov, is descended from the Ethiopian nobility - his great-grandfather, a Swiss military engineer, married Emperor Theodore II's daughter thus had to stay in Ethiopia according to their rules. On Ustinov's father's side, he is descended from Russian nobility. Alexander Bulatovich was an officer who rode with Menelik's army; an outstanding horseman he won the hard earned praise of Ethiopian warriors riding in dashing manner on his Ethiopian horse Defar. Bulatovich had gone to Ethiopia with the Russian Red Cross in 1896, and stayed to explore, for a book. He was there when war broke out, so rode with Ras Wolda Giyorgis into battle. On return to Russia he wrote a book about it. Needless to say, many other Russian and Ethiopian interactions over the centuries; they have the Orthodox church in common. Many countries have fascinating links to this ancient land.


Abyssinia was often reported in Australian news. It was taken for granted Australians knew the words Negus (King) and Ras (Governor-Duke) and that the peoples are of several ethnic groups and religions united in a common love of their country, a country that was never conquered (a fact newspapers loved to repeat with admiration and relish). The ancient home of many Christian tales meant it was reported with reverence, great interest in the Emperor of the time, and admiration. Women had always been important in society, and heroic warriors as well as men. Jihad was also understood better in our colonial days than now, and Muslims usually termed Mahommedans in the press and equally respected, being part of the fabric of multi-cultural Australia too, from the first records in 1802 (a muster).

In 1867 Captain Speedy of the 81st, who had been stationed in Abyssinia with the Emperor's forces, gave lectures on the country's people and customs in Sydney - well received and highly entertaining. He'd had to flee Ethiopia in 1861 as he fell out with Emperor Tewodrus. Both were forceful characters.

Captain Speedy served with Napier shortly after this lecture. Speedy kindly gave the proceeds of his lectures to the local Asylum for Destitute Children in Sydney. Speedy said in times of war the Ethiopian people trusted chiefly in the cavalry, being great horsemen, and praised the country - recommending it as a great place to live and work. 

It was to the redoubtable Captain Speedy, who had spent much time in the country, that the soldiers of the Emperor finally surrendered at the battle of Magdala, on the Napier expedition to Abyssinia of 1867-8.

Through skilful diplomacy and plentiful military forces, Ethiopia managed to avoid colonisation - unlike most African nations. Quite a feat. 

An ancient land with great cultures including Biblical events - The Ark of the Covenant is just one of many stories linked to Ethiopia - also thought to be the true home of Biblical Israel, bearing in mind how vast the country once was. 

Christians made up the greater part of religious denominations, there were also many Muslims and a Jewish population. These days it's much the same although most Jews have emigrated to Israel, unfortunately to suffer an apartheid and racist state.

At times religious conflict rocked the country; mostly tolerance was the rule. There was always interaction and population movement with other Coptic Orthodox peoples such as the Armenians, the same with Muslim peoples. Sunni is the form of Islam practised in Ethiopia, an orthodox form with some ancient practises, like the Coptic (Orthodox) Christianity, particular to Ethiopia. The Muslims always educated their children in reading and writing, whereas the Christians only educated trainee priests in times past. Muslims were usually given trusted official positions due to their honesty. Religious tolerance was the hallmark of all successful eras in Ethiopia. Slavery was a major economy of Ethiopia until it was abolished by Haile Selassie in 1942. This went a long way to healing old racist attitudes between indigenous races within the country as some peoples had been regarded as prey and others as predators. Visiting North Americans, Arabs, British and Europeans were slave buyers.


Robert Napier... 

General Robert Napier led an expeditionary force to Abyssinia in 1867-68 to free some English captives held as hostage including the Consul to Abyssinia. This was also a punitative expedition, never right. 

The Ethiopians were impressed with the Bengal Lancers who arrived en masse on horse, special shipments of Walers having been sent to India for the Abyssinia expedition. The Lancers showed their military skills in precision riding demonstrations such as the sword display. The British were equally impressed with Ethiopian horsemanship; glowing accounts of the bravery and skill of riders, including the Emperor, dashing about British forces, hurling invitations to meet in mounted battle.

Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Napier was a capable and very experienced soldier, he'd campaigned in India and China and had been shot twice in action. He was in charge of the nearest army for mobilisation to Abyssinia - the Bombay Army. 

He divided his forces for Abyssinia into three brigades. The expedition was accomplished in astonishingly rapid time, to save the hostages, and in case local Ras' (referred to as Princes by the expedition), for whom bags of gold had been taken, changed from neutrality to enmity. Ras were in effect war lords too, they kept large private armies. This saved the Emperor the expense and kept local autonomy, and armies spread well throughout the vast land, a great deterrant to prospective invaders.

Robert Napier, centre, and staff in Abyssinia
Capt. Speedy second from right.
Photo: National Archives, UK.

A successful mission - the captives were released and the Emperor (often called the King in old accounts), in shame at losing the final battle, committed suicide - ironically with a pistol Queen Victoria had gifted him. 

The British had been imprisoned after a missionary unintentionally insulted the Emperor, Tewodros II - also called Theodorus or Theodore in the west - by writing about his humble orgins. Tewodros was also incensed Queen Victoria hadn't answered letters in which he asked for help to fight Muslims, wishing to make his country only Christian. The Queen knew other religions must be tolerated as India proved. 

This expedition has been described as the most expensive affair of honour ever - all essentially to free two government officials. 

Robert Napier equestrian statue, edge of Hyde Park, Kensington gardens, London.

It had unfolded quickly. The hostages Emperor Tewodros seized, including Christian missionaries, were put in chains and beaten. Their native staff were killed. The beatings resulted in some captives dying soon after rescue.

The British sent a great diplomat, the famous Hormuzd Rassam, an Assyrian Christian from Mesopotamia, to negotiate, but although well received by the Emperor, it seemed his Highness was distrustful and slightly nuts - Rassam too was imprisoned. Emperor Tewodros had been communicating with several powers including France, Prussia and Russia with little success, and his constant demands to Queen Victoria became ridiculous - once he'd taken hostages she decided to send an expedition against him. 

It was a brave undertaking, for Abyssinia had resisted occupation/invasion for hundreds of years even during the height of the European slaving days. Also a massive undertaking in logistics : it took the building of a railway, roads - some as bridges over granite boulder mountain ranges - by many sappers, and three months hard trekking over 420 miles until the army got into striking range. The reconnaissance crew who plotted out the route on their sturdy Walers did a top job. 

General Robert Napier.
photo source and good precis of Napier's career, also map of his route through Abyssinia.

13,000 British and Indian troops, 40,000 animals - being horses (mostly Walers), camels, mules, donkeys, bullocks and a few elephants were sent, and some 26,000 camp followers. They left from Bombay, with detachments from there and Bengal. 

Napier requested for one of his army chaplains Reverend C.H. Blumhardt, an astute choice as Blumhardt had spent a lot of time in Abyssinia, knew parts of the country well and spoke Amharic. He'd also written a phrasebook whch translated phrases in Amharic, English and Oordoo (Urdu). Invaluable to officers on the expedition. Water was a problem, resolved by bring lots over from Bombay constantly, sappers digging wells on arrival until fresh was found, and getting the steamers to run their condensers constantly at Aden and once on the coast of Africa.

The final battle was at Magdala where ultimately Emperor Tewodros killed himself. He'd made several blunders, one being to turn his own people against him. There were local wars between peoples of the area, instead of uniting them he'd punished many ruthlessly, so others refused to come to his aid for fear of reprisal and disgust at his actions. Although he'd released the European captives, he'd cruelly hacked the feet and hands off native captives and thrown some over a precipice, others to hyenas. His army had mass defections. At the last stand at Magdala, those left bravely charged the British guns armed only with spears.

British camp at Magdala, photo English Archives

Napier on the other hand, wisely took advantage of the internal disruptions caused by the unpredictable Emperor and obtained the support of Ras Kassia, who was to become the next Emperor, Yohannes IV. 'Ras' was a title. 

Ras Kassia's forces were well provided (by the Ras) with good weapons and plenty of ammo; and were brave and disciplined. As they fought with Napier's men it set up good relations for the future between this King and Britain.

The British forces sacked the city of Magdala, burning everything including beautiful old churches, and looted to an extraordinary degree. Masses of Ethiopian treasures including historical and religious artefacts were taken back to Britain. An incredible baggage train was needed - 15 elephants and almost 200 mules, to carry the loot to the coast. 

Few things have been returned. In 1925 the future emperor, Haile Selassie, was returned the crown of Tewodros II by King George V - he exchanged it for two lions. This crown had been made by Armenian artisan jewellers. Richard Holmes of the British Museum, had accompanied the expedition specifically to  use army might to steal artifacts for the museum. He got literally tons. In 2019 locks of Emperor Tewodros' hair, cut off his corpse by the British and heartlessy put on display with other stolen things in an exhibition that year, will be returned to Ethiopia upon request.

 Horse lines and stores, Zoula. Abyssinia Expedition 1868. Imperial War Museum.

The silver drum mystery... one looted object was a fifteenth century silver Ethiopian drum which belonged to the now dead Emperor Tewodros. It was given by Napier to three regiments as 'spoils of war' - in effect, a trophy - and was literally divided into three; one part belonging to the 3rd Dragoon Guards, whose commander in Abyssinia, Lieutenant-General Conyers Towers, was made a Companion of the Bath on return to England.  It has been found the three parts do not fit these days, hence the mystery. some photos and info about the silver drum.

The British started to withdraw from the country after Magdala but found locals harrassed their departure. Understandable concern over colonial ambition and the sacking of churches, Royal Treasury and homes. The British didn't have forces to occupy the country and preferred an Emperor they could become allies with. It's thought about 3,000 Walers had accompanied the expedition. Some of the camp followers horses came from Cairo, hence probably Egyptian, although there were some Australian horses there at the time. The military horses however were shipped with troops from Bombay. 

The London Illustrated News journalist, William Simpson, who travelled to the war, bought a horse he named Cheops and a donkey he named Theodore (for the Emperor). These had been purchased in Cairo for him by Captain Arbuthnot. Simpson's diary - a great find and great read - was published by Ethiopian scholar Richard Pankhurst in recent times.

This beautiful shield was among the loot taken, much sold to pay the troops and some for museums. Looting is a war crime.
many looted objects pictured here; some were sacred, some secular, such as the Queen's beautiful woven dress. It must have been hard for the little Ethiopian Prince, who was taken to England,  to see this on display.

Right - General Sir Hugh Gough, who went with the 12th Bengal Lancers. He was one of three members of his family who had won a Victoria Cross.

The expedition included four and a half regiments of cavalry, seven batteries and one Indian company of artillery, four battalions of British infantry and ten of Indian infantry. And Engineer regiments.
The 12th Bengal Cavalry (5th Horse, Pakistan) commanded by Major Hugh Gough were on the expedition. Gough was an experienced soldier, and had won a V.C.. The 10th Bengal Cavalry (4th Horse, Hodson's Horse), the 3rd Dragoon Guards (Prince of Wales' Own) with Lieutenant-Colonel Tower, the 3rd Bombay Cavalry (Poona Horse), Captain Moore; 3rd Sind Horse, Major Briggs. 

Major Millar, Lieutenant-Colonel Loch and Colonel Graves commanded the detachments in various battles. Murray's Battery brought the big guns, and the mountain batterys commanded by Lieutentant-Colonel Penn and Lieutenant-Colonel Twiss in battle, both under command of  Colonel Milward. These artillery regiments were "A" Battery, 21st Brigade Royal Artillery; "B' Battery, 21st Brigade Royal Artillery (Capt. Twiss and 104 men), "G" Brigade 14th Brigade Royal Artillery (Capt. Murray, 94 men), detachment of 5th Battery 25th Brigade Royal Artillery (Capt. Hills, VC and 27 men). 

The Engineers were seven companies of Sappers and Miners. The Madras Sappers were the only regiment not from Bombay and Bengal. One artillery regiment, the Armstrong Artillery Battery, used elephants to haul their guns. The second Brigade was under command of General Wilby.

Speedy with Prince Alemayahu in 1868.  Photo from Wiki.

Captain Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy was called "Basha Felika" by Emperor Tewodros, meaning Commander Speedy.

The Prince's father Emperor Tewodros was dead. Speedy wanted to be his guardian
but the boy's mother objected - after her death however Napier gave the boy back to Speedy. 

Speedy worked with Emperor Tewodros for several years. He was 6 feet 5 inches with red hair and beard, learned the Amharic language and wore native dress. On the
 Napier expedition he became guardian to the Emperor's young son, who was taken to England, aged 7. This was against the wishes of the Prince's mother who mysteriously died on the way to the coast. 

Prince Alemayehu, perhaps taken out of kindness, was nevertheless a trophy of flesh and blood. He died in England aged 18. Speedy was not the best guardian, giving him over to tutors, and sent the Ethiopian entourage home from Cairo so the orphan had not a soul from home to support him emotionally. The young Prince, although educated at elite schools, was lonely and desperately unhappy. He died of pleurisy. In 2007, Ethiopia formally asked the Royal family of Britain for his remains to come home. This request has been ignored. Queen Elizabeth II also keeps stolen and valuable Ethiopian artifacts, as does the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Found weeping over the dead Emperor was another boy, presumed an orphan too, he was taken with Napier. This boy was raised by a Dr Charles Martin and took his name (his Ethiopian name was Hakim Workneh Eshete). He trained as a medical doctor and returned to Ethiopia, an extraordinary man and a wonderful story.

As well as the usual cannon and cold steel, it was the first war to use breech loading rifles - the famous Snider. The war is also known for the insanely huge cannon the Emperor had made by his captive British missionaries, which he named Sebastapol. It didn't work. The British had only twenty wounded in all the battles, two fatally so. The Ethiopians lost 700 killed and had 1,200 wounded. 

The British regiments also had a new look - field dress - khaki jackets and topi (topee, pith, solar) helmets. The beginning of the end of redcoats apart from the parade ground.

Napier's 1868 expedition, from the London Illustrated News

Several good books were written about this expedition by those who went, notably Captain Hozier's "The British Campaign in Abyssinia," a first edition of which is very valuable. Hozier went with the 3rd Dragoon Guards.

Among the great characters that went to this war was Henry Morton Stanley (of Stanley and Livingstone fame), who was there as a journalist for the New York Herald. 

Robert Napier was made a Baron after Abyssinia - 1st Baron of Magdala - and granted an annuity for life. 200 horses of the 3rd were lost to disease but extras had been taken by all regiments, so men were not left unhorsed; apart from that only forty five more horses were lost and those due to sudden rains and mud conditions on the trek back out of the country. Outstanding result - good tough horses and great cavalry command skills. A testament to Napier indeed.

Later in 1869 an Australian government representative, Mr R. D. Ross, researching the horse market, dined with Napier at Government House in Bombay. Napier praised our horses and was very supportive of the armies there buying more Australian horses, he wanted the army to buy ships especially to bring them over from Port Darwin.

Kebra Nagast... one item of loot from the Napier expedition was an ancient Ethiopian book, the Kebra Nagast, "Glory of the Kings." This traced the Royal blood lines back to King Solomon and was vital for proving a new king's credentials. The book was given to the British Museum. Emperor Yohannes sent urgent letters asking for it back. His pleas were successful - in 1872 this fabulous book was returned to Ethiopia by the trustees of the British Museum - probably only because they retained another copy of it stolen at the same time. The Kebra Nagast has also been translated into English. Dr Hubbard did an intensive study of it, his work is outstanding. 

There are many old Ethiopian frescos and illustrations of Kebra Nagast stories where a horse features with important characters. Queen Makeba of Saba (Sheba) visited King Solomon. He fooled her; and she returned home pregnant. He also gave her the Ark of the Covenant for safe-keeping. She bore his son whom she named Ebna Hakim - son of the wise man. He became Menelik I - Ethiopia's first Emperor, crowned in 995 BC. The capital was Axum in Ethiopia and his kingdom was vast. photo source

Ethiopia is also home to ancient illuminated manuscripts of great beauty; horses prance gracefully through these too.

Ethiopia and the Bible, the Schweich Lectures by Edward Ullendorff explains a lot about the Kebra Nagast. Ullendorff says the Kebra Nagaste is as historically important as the Bible and Qu'ran, vital to Ethiopian history and spirituality.


~time for a nice cup of Ethiopian coffee~
ancient coffee ceremony, just like todays


First Italo-Ethiopian War... 

An attempt by Italy, which had taken some neighbouring countries, to invade in 1895-96, was successfully fought off. Ethiopia was much admired for its tenacity and military skills. Russia, France and Great Britain supported Ethiopia with medical supplies and weapons for this war. The King was Menelik II, he'd spent some time building up his forces and ammo supplies before hostilities commenced.

Menelik II  on his horse Aba Dagna. 
Famous Ethiopian leaders are often better known by their horse's name, such were great horses revered. Statue at St. George's Cathedral piazza, Addis Ababa.

Menelik's diplomatic mission to Russia, including priests - they were orthodox as was Russia - met with much approval in Russia and gained them much support. He deliberately sought Russia out as an ally in case of British colonial ambition. Russia sent military advisors, cannon, and a lot of good rifles - sturdy, reliable Berdan and Mosin-Nagant rifles. A bunch of volunteer fighters including Cossacks went to help. Russian advisors helped Menelik including a Kuban Cossack officer - the famous Nikolay Leontiev, explorer, geographer, writer and military man. 

Back in Italy the war was not popular - there were protests supporting Ethiopia. 

Russia also sent the Russian Red Cross and helped establish Ethiopia's first hospital. Their doctors and nurses impressed Menelik hugely and the 'Moscovs' were welcomed wherever they went, never needing protection. Menelik had established an Embassy in Russia, this had reaped the reward of Russian help in their hour of need. Some Russians moved to Ethiopia, and lived there contentedly. As an Orthodox Christian country Ethiopia had long and close ties with Russia, providing the imposing Abyssinian Guard for Royalty there from Peter the Great's time. Ethiopians went to Russia for education. Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Anatolia and Turkey all had friendly links to Ethiopia through the Orthodox church. A Russian Geographical Society was exploring Abyssinia when this war broke out - Leontiev was with them, hence being in Ethiopia at the time. 

Ras Mengesha Yohannes, the son of Emperor Yohannes IV, brought 12,000 troops to the fight against the Italians. 
source - has numbers of cavalry and infantry and who provided them.

Battles were huge and Ethiopia the victor - the Italians had huge losses of life, bigger than any other nineteenth century war including Waterloo and Eylau. Italy was shocked, forced to recognise the independence of Ethiopia. 
The world looked at Ethiopia with great respect. The cavalry of Ethiopia had spears/lances for weapons, like the infantry, but many also had the good rifles from Russia, and the Emperor and Ras' had prepared well getting all the rifles they could. The Italians however had old model rifles that were clumsy, many were on mules rather than horses and there were not enough saddles, nor supplies. The Ethiopian victory was all the more morale boosting as they'd just come out of a long hard famine. The centuries old custom of non-combatants following the Abyssinian army to feed them helped enormously. The Italians on the other hand, were badly supplied and low on morale. 

Negus Menelik II at the battle of Adua.
 painting by Paul  Buffet, front cover of Le Petit Journal, France, 10th November 1898 issue.

Battle of Adwa/Adua/Adowa. 
Won by Ethiopia on the 1st March 1896 against the Italians, this great victory over a western power is now celebrated annually as Victory Day. Menelik also returned all captives to Italy unharmed.

Menelik had 30 horses in the field for his personal use, tiring them out in succession. One was named Mansour (triumphant) which is also said to be the horse of his statue. Countless thousands other horses were with the troops and baggage trains.

Menelik's wife Itage Taitu led an army in this war, as did his daughter Weizero Zewditu with great distinction - the women of Ethiopia being great warriors too.

A documentary on this war with a few bits of old film footage of the Ethiopian cavalry here and there, language is Amharic. Italy and Ethiopia repaired their relations to the extent King Menelik donated a large sum to help victims of an earthquake in Italy in 1909. 


The country's exotic charms were often written up here in Australia, and the salt of Abyssinia was considered the finest for the table. Lions and other exciting animals were sent from Abyssinia to zoos around the globe. The Emperor himself in our trading days, Haile Selassi, had good relations with Australia.

yes! it's time for another coffee...


Dervishes (Rebels)... and World War One...

It must be pointed out that the term "Dervishes" for armed resistance fighters is a western one, these people did not call themselves Dervishes. We'll call them Rebels here, as people of the time called them. 

Photo: the straight Ethiopian sword. This online source said it's called the Mamluk - perhaps a corruption of Mamaluke sword (which is not straight). A good forum online about swords say it's the Sayf/Saif - the Amharic word.  Both sides are sharp rather than the point; a deft, traditional method of sword fighting used. To slash the enemy rather than stab them, usually causes more injuries than death. This not only renders enemies helpless, it ties up many more of the enemy personel and resources - retrieving, treating, transporting, sheltering, feeding the wounded. When the sword is heavier and used two-handed, this method brings great power to force - the user must be a very strong man, usually a lethal form of fighting or used when enemy is heavily armoured. The curved Ethiopian sword is called the Shotel; like all curved swords a major use is for reaching around shields, either hooking them or cutting the enemy despite their shield. Photo source

Genuine independence fighters of Egypt and Sudan were also called Dervishes. They weren't all extremists but we're looking at Ethiopia and although drawn into neighbourhood wars, the major one for them was against extremists wanting an Islamic State who started up in neighbouring Somalia.

The west called these conflicts "the wars of the Dervishes." To call them Islamist in the current era only rings the bells of alarm with the uneducated. It's no reflection on a religion when terror is done in its name - it's been done in the name of all religions and by athiests. Extremists are caused by repression - by despots or brutal colonials. They are armed by those behind the lines with an agenda (greed). Genuine freedom movements need to contend with nutcases drawn to extremism too.

... a quick run through of some of the conflicts...

In Sudan the Mahadists (for the name of their leader; also called Dervishes), rose up against British rule, however turned their eyes to Ethiopia too. In 1888 the Oromo people led 25,000 cavalry against them and many Ethiopians went to Sudan to fight with the English as the Mahadist Rebels were invading Ethiopia - Ethiopian scouts were invaluable to the British cavalry and also fought alongside them. The British were mostly on Walers. 

Australia sent thousands of horses for the British and Indian forces and over 700 horses with a contingent of Australian troops from NSW to this conflict in Sudan which spilled into Ethiopia. 

European colonialism meant the end of several ancient kingdoms in the countries near Ethiopia. Of course they would fight to remain free and oust colonials. These were horse cultures too discussed in this great little book. Colonial wars had great ramifications for ancient horse breeds of these areas.

Australian forces, NSW, marching to embark for Sudan, 1885 - many on horses. These were volunteers, who got there late, and did little. As it was the first big war we went to there was a lot of fanfare. They also took horses for the Imperial artillery which were praised by Lord Wolsley and handed over to the British in Suakim, in return the Australians were given a battery of guns with 800 rounds.
Photo: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

Previously, Ethiopia fought other "Dervish" troops of Egyptian Muslims sent to conquer them in 1875. They were under the able leadership of Emperor Yohannes - he had up to 100,000 troops in the field, including cavalry and succeeded in driving them out. Emperor Yohannes was also being harrassed by a disaffected general, Menelik. This was resolved unexpectedly - in 1889 Yohannes was captured by the Egyptians and killed. Menelik became the new Negus. 

On top of regional clan wars, Mahdists, Egyptians, Italians and extremist Sunni Rebels who wanted an Islamic State, Ethiopia was busy from the time of Napier, fighting virtually without respite until 1920. A treaty with Britain and Egypt in 1884 saw Ethiopia lose territory. The Italians in 1885 blocked Ethiopia's access to the sea.

Next we get to the Rebel war of 1894 to 1920. Some of the Rebels were Sufi's but not in the true spirit - extremism in Islam is the same as Nazis representing Christianity - some were genuine independence fighters but most were opportunist mercenaries. 

The Rebel war began as a movement in 1894 after the leader, Sayyid Muhummad Abyd Allah al-Hussan (called The Mad Mullah by the English) went to Mecca and came back fired with jihardist zeal. It became a 'holy war' of extremists using religion as an excuse for slaughter, theft and control. Sayyid was charismatic but very cruel - he polarised Somalia which had been tolerant - the yearning for a strong independent state weighed against the chains of Islamic extremism. 

The Rebels were setting up a state without any colonial influence and spread throughout the countries bordering the Red Sea and inland, spreading out from Somalia. They were invading Abyssinia and massacres were frequent - of those people not in their army.

Ethiopia wasn't colonised but the Rebels didn't care - they wanted territory at any price. At first Ethiopia fought them alone, then the British, worried about the incursions in British Somaliland, became involved and sent forces. 

Emperor Menelik II had plentiful troops, some Remington rifles gained from the Italians in the war against them and again, the friendly Russians gave him rifles. The Mad Mullah's forces also grew - he gained seasoned fighters from the Egyptian "Dervishes." 

The Rebel war became more intense in 1900 when the Emperor sent 8,000 cavalry to defend Ethiopia's border. Ethiopians from a military garrison stole some of Mullah's camels in Somalia. The Rebels won the camels back. Fighting started in earnest in Somalia. Up to 30,000 Ethiopians, Indians, English and Rebels were killed in one battle. 
A Dervish cavalry charge

The Rebels set up an Islamic State, partially in Ethiopia and partly Somaliland/Somalia, successfully repelling British and European forces. Their leader was vehemently anti-Christian. They equally killed Muslims for not being extremists. Of interest, a military advisor to the Mullah and in charge of his cavalry, had been a well known officer in the Austrian army, Karl Inger, he'd converted to Islam and changed his name to Ali Raschid. 

Needless to say war crimes of the British empirical forces were countless. It is not hard to see how extremists are created.  '"Our victory was disgraced by the inhuman slaughter of the wounded and Lord Kitchener was responsible for this." Churchill, after the battle of Omdurman, in a letter to his mother where he described weeping uncontrollably at the savagery Butcher Kitchener ordered them to do; wholesale massacre. Despite that, Churchill enjoyed using his 10 shot Mauser revolver throughout, and as usual publicised his own efforts enormously in the press, as he did throughout his career. The battle wasn't that. 11,000 people were slaughtered that day by the British machine guns - finished off with swords, boots, revolvers and knives. Numbers vary, some estimates are a lot more, up to 25,000.  The British lost only 48 dead, 400 odd wounded.

In 1901 Major Hanbury-Tracy of the Horse Guards and Captain Cobbold went to Addis Ababa to consult with Emperor Menelik and his great general Ras Makonnen (father of Tafari) who were co-operating with the British for defense against the Muslim extremists. With the British and Indian regiments from 1901 on, a lot of Walers went to the war against the Mullah's Rebels. There was a lot of cavalry action where both sides fought heroically, much  in Somaliland and various battles where the British, Indian and Boer units (with the Brits) were greatly outnumbered. The horses of the mounted infantry, mostly Walers, came in for special praise, on one occasion in 1901 they went 110 miles in 30 hours without pause or water, another time 70 miles in 24 hours which included some battles. Hundreds were ridden to death in pursuit of the Mullah's forces, in riding one could describe as fanatical - this was a Kitchener ploy, pursuit without respite. Tired men whose horses had died were able to capture the enemy's horses, many loose due to their riders being killed. When men dropped from exhaustion, Butcher Kitchener fumed. Plan a and b needed to be repeated - ride like hell and kill horses. Kitchener was loathed for good reason. Among his countless crimes he had the mosque holding Mahdi's tomb in Omdurman destroyed and the remains of this man, revered in Sudan for being their independent leader, disinterred, burned, and thrown in a river.

"You will go down in history as the greatest horse killer of your age, or any other age." 
Sir John Broderick, Secretary of State for War. 

Kitchener has. History's biggest killer of horses, and one of history's biggest killers of humans. A great army man, inept at logistics, inhuman; more of his own army died of filth, disease and exhaustion than war. Thus was the British Empire. An estimated 326,000 horses were killed due to his policies in the Boer War - far more were killed in the 'Dervish' wars - many were Walers.

It was not uncommon for a man to have a horse killed under him, and in the same battle, after being remounted, the second horse too - cavalry battles were fierce - artillery mowed them down. Conditions were extreme - long distances, hot and dry, worse than campaigning in India - frequently they had little or no water so were forced to drink dirty water when found (the theory whiskey killed germs left them very upset when the whiskey ran out). The greater forces of Ethiopia fought equally bravely with the courage and professional fighting discipline gained over centuries. They'd been fighting extremists alone a long time.

There were four major campaigns by the British against the extremists (called Dervishes by the Brits) from 1901 to 1913.  Thousands of Walers went. Ethiopia wisely encouraged trade and diplomatic relations with the great powers in their efforts to modernise and stay free from colonial invasion, they had to play powers against each other in this endeavour. 

Dervishes are an order like peaceful monks that keep to humility and poverty - so this lot were not real Dervishes at all. One of the greatest poets of all time, Rumi, was a Dervish. Militancy and extremism is anathema to a true Dervish, who are rare now. Some Dervishes do the trance thing - like the horse dancers in Indonesia - a sort of religious ecstacy during which they can perform strange feats and so on. Whatever floats your boat. Probably these trances, and the dances of the harmless Whirling Dervishes, thus gave rise to the name being used for the Rebels, who seemed whirling possessed devils in battle.

At the time of the wars against the Rebel State, both Sheiks and Sultans made strong statements saying these people were neither Muslim nor Christian because of their violence and robbing. They were fanatics who took advantage of people wanting to be free of colonisation to simply plunder and murder.

photo source.

Ethiopian cavalry, who escorted Wilfred Thesiger, an English ally, to Addis Ababa in 1909, to meet Lij Iyasu, grandson heir apparent to King Menelik - Menelik was ill - he died in 1913. 

Iyasu, once Emperor (although the coronation didn't take place, he was on the throne for 3 years), was to start supporting the Rebels. He converted to Islam and aligned himself with many of Ethiopia's traditional enemies. He also took several wives, degrading human rights; although he had an enlightened attitude to religious tolerance and other matters. As Royalty were usually Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians it created a deep schism. He was deposed.

Thesiger later returned to Ethiopia with Gideon Force in WW2. He wrote about the fight for the throne 1910-1919 in an article titled 'On His Majesty's Service'.
Sir Wilfred Thesiger. 
He was born in Addis Ababa, where his father was the British Consul-General to Ethiopia. He held a lifetime love of Africa and the Arab countries and spent most of his life in Africa. He gained a DSO for his courage fighting the Italians, and was later knighted. His other name was Mubarak bin London (blessed of London). A famous traveller, he took an extraordinary amount of photos, published in many books.

Interesting time - France, Italy and Britain united to keep their colonies in the horn of Africa. It was in their interests to see Iyasu, a tolerant Muslim promoting co-existence with Christians and who preferred people promoted by merit rather than by aristocratic 'rights', and who wanted Africa united against colonialism, out of the way. Just as they wanted all those opposing colonialism out of the way.

Walers went to this conflict early with British forces - Number 1 and 3 Mounted Infantry (British), Number 6 and 7 Mounted Infantry (Indian), Tribal Horse, Gadabursi Horse, and Number 4 and 5 Somali Mounted Infantry. Some horses were obtained in country but most came over with the regiments. 12 Maxim guns were brought along and the 28th (Lahore) Mountain Battery. 

Lieutenant Carter, No 6 Company, Indian Mounted Infantry, was awarded a Victoria Cross in 1903 in this conflict : "During a reconnaissance near Jidballi, on 19th December, 1903, when the two Sections of the Poona Mounted Infantry and the Tribal Horse were retiring before a force of Dervishes which outnumbered them by thirty to one, Lieutenant Carter rode back alone, a distance of four hundred yards, to the assistance of Private Jai Singh, who had lost his horse, and was closely pursued by a large number of the enemy, and, taking the Sepoy up behind him, brought him safely away. When Lieutenant Carter reached Private Jai Singh, the Sections were several hundred yards off."

Bikaners (camel corps) from India also went. The Italians, once more at peace with Ethiopia and also concerned about Rebels in their own colonies, let the British land their forces at the port of Obbiah, Somalia. Local Sheiks offered 8,000 camels and 300 mounted scouts to help.

The British set up a veterinary depot and Remount Department at Berbera which was under command of Captain Lister of the 10th Hussars. When he was killed, Lieutenant Breslin of the 4th Hussars took over.  Three shiploads of horses from India were received by 1903, other horses were bought from Abyssinia. The Remount Depot was moved to Bihendula and then as an Advanced Remount Department to Wadamego. Wounded or killed horses could thus be replaced quickly. Over 4,600 animals were received for the Fourth Campaign. Many Walers came over from India.

photo: Risalder (Commander) with the Indian Mounted Infantry in Somalia.

Between 1900 and 1904 the Rebels inflicted heavy losses on Ethiopia but were losing support, their forces now mercenaries. Plunder of herds and lands and murder of clans including Muslims, led to a big famine in 1910 in British Somaililand that killed a third of the population. 

Matters were interrupted by WW1. The Rebels set up a good line of forts into Ethiopia. The British now had other things to do than help Ethiopia. Their new camel troop created in 1913 was largely wiped out by the Rebels. Undaunted, they formed another which became a mighty corps and fought on.

After WW1 it was apparent the Rebels were still committing constant outrages, plundering and killing indiscriminately. Despite having just fought a grueling world war, the British sent forces. Finally in 1920 the British combined a brilliant land attack with aerial bombing of the Rebel capital of Taleh and destroyed their State. 

The remaining Rebels were un-organised. Some maintained their old ways and formed bands of roving bandits. The Cameleers and the Boer Mounted Infantry came in for special praise in this war, journalists there sang their praises. 

The final scattering of the Rebels came after the British attacks, from the Warsangali sultanate, who had a great cavalry and army. This sultanate in northern Somalia resisted British occupation, at first siding with the Rebels to be rid of the colonials. However due to atrocities they dropped support for the Rebels and fought against them. Their Sultan was exiled by Britain in 1920 after being tried by a kangaroo court for refusing to sign unfair British treaties. 

One of the main trading goods of the Rebel State was horses, so one can trace the movement of horses in the area with their trade. Their genes would very likely be in the current horses of Ethiopia, so is of genetic interest as they traded over Egypt, Somalia, Ethiopia, Soudan and Somaliland. They kept a cavalry of up to 10,000 mounted warriors - cavalry were usually 40 percent of their forces.  One would presume they were Arabian type horses. This Islamist (Rebel) State was lawless, apart from the absurdity of selective religious 'law' - like all intolerant regimes their own violence caused their downfall. 

It's possible they also caught some British horses - Walers. The British had 100,000 troops in Sudan, next door to Ethiopia, in 1905 under Kitchener. With friendly relations between Ethiopia and Britain, no doubt horses brought in through Sudan were also brought for the Emperor as gifts. At times the forces were in Ethiopia, and mounted Ethiopian troops such as scouts.Kitchener was renown for burning horses out fast, sheer abuse - exhaustion, no feed or water - so many horses of the British and Indian forces were simply abandoned to die. They may well have recovered and gone on to fight with the enemy. The Islamists looked after their horses well.

Ethiopia remained neutral in World War One, not by choice, although they were busy fighting the Rebels. Menelik died in 1913 and his grandson Lij Iyasu became the new Emperor but began supplying the Mullah's troops with weapons and communicating with the Central Powers and the Ottomans, which the Allies were fighting. In 1916 the aristocrats of Ethiopia managed to get Iyasu ex-communicated and deposed. Menelik's 40 year old daughter Zewditu became Empress. The new regime, with Ras Tafari Makonnen (Haile Selassie) as Regent, requested to join the Allies. Disgracefully, the Allies refused to have them, concerned Ethiopia would become a stronghold against colonialism. The Somaliland Camel Corps, a great British outfit, kept harrassing the Rebels throughout the First World War trying to contain them. The absurdity of nearby help being refused meant the death of many Allied soldiers in this area.

Second Italo-Ethiopian War... World War Two...

"It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.
HIM in his speech to the League of Nations.

The Italians and the Empire of Ethiopia signed a League of Nations treaty in 1923, a condition was that member nations were to remain at peace with each other. Italy however aggressively began invading Abyssinia from their neighbouring colony of Italian Somaliland by 1930. The gloves came off. 

Britain, with colonial forces and business interests in there, sided with Ethiopia. Ethiopia had been a founding member of the League of Nations - a progressive move and indicative of its good intent as an international citizen.

Despite the times, horses were used in this war, due to the terrain in Ethiopia, mainly by Gideon Force (British, origionally called Mission 101, name changed by Wingate) and the Ethiopian forces. About 300 horses from Sudan accompanied Gideon Force, most were Walers - the Sudan Horse, part of General Platt's forces. Ethiopians called Patriots fought on horses after Selassie went into exile, and faced Italian charges on horses. They prevented total Italian control.

 Kebur Zabagna
Photo: The Australasian, 27th July 1935.

 These look like Ethiopian horses.

In 1934 as Selassie was getting his army prepared, he bought many big Australian horses for his Imperial Guard and artillery. The odd Australian popped up in Ethiopia in these times. Rev. Dr Rolls, a missionary there, had been in charge of the Sudan Interior Mission Red Cross Corps. He returned to Australia in 1936 and warned in the newspapers a world war loomed and Ethiopia needed immediate help against Italy's invasion and cruelty. In January 1936 Australia offered to send a Red Cross team to Ethiopia, but it was refused, the country saying they preferred funds for their own badly under-resourced Red Cross instead. Disgust and shock at the Italians bombing the Red Cross there that month. Collections were taken up, donations poured in, and our Red Cross sent them to Ethiopia, asking for both Ethiopian and Italian wounded to be helped. Many soldiers and nurses here volunteered to go and help the Red Cross there. At a Town Hall public meeting in Melbourne in February, it was mentioned how an Ethiopian saved Jeremiah from the dungeon, in the Bible, thus was our Christian duty to help too. There was a brave British Red Cross mission there under the amazing Major Burgoyne, and Norway set up a Red Cross field hospital there too.

photo: Arnold Wienholt a day before his death in Ethiopia.

Another of Selassie's supporters who lived in Africa for a time was an Australian - an extraordinary Queenslander named Arnold Wienholt, raised in the Australian bush and educated at Eton. No doubt he too recommended our horses. 

Wienholt was a larger than life character, tough as leather - he could keep up with a Bushman hunting. An old war horse, he'd been to the Boer War (1899-1902) where he gained his deep love of Africa; fought in WW1 where he was a Captain in Intelligence (British army) with the East African Rifles, where he got his MC and DSO (Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order).  He fought in German East Africa (now Tanzania) under General Smuts in the Mounted Scouts - on Walers. An honorable adversary, he took good care of prisoners. For a few months he was a POW himself. 

British East Africa at that stage covered several countries in the region, some bordered Ethiopia - Wienholt's efforts helped Selassie at times. In German East Africa he reported horse sickness and tse-tse fly a problem.

Wienholt learnt African languages and culture and was greatly respected, he loved hunting. A tussle with a lion in 1914 left him with a crippled hand which caused his application to enlist to be refused (war broke out while he was hunting in Africa) so he had to return home in 1915 to get it going again, he returned with Ivan Lewis and some good horses and enlisted with Smuts. After his work with the Scouts he shipped his 'good Queensland horses" to Bombay for further scouting work in the Persian gulf.

He went to Addis Ababa as a war correspondent for the Brisbane Courier Mail in this war - the second Italo-Ethiopian war - but soon joined the Red Cross there on active missions. He was keen to make amends for Britain's shameful desertion of Ethiopia in its hour of need. He ended up in Selassie's Imperial Guard, being with they and the Emperor, and 40,000 troops, on the retreat from Dessie to Addis Ababa. He felt bitterly ashamed to leave on a train as the Italians overran the city, but determined to try again. He wrote a book The African's Last Stronghold, published 1938,  about his experiences in Ethiopia during the Italian invasion. 

Went to England and saw an old school chum, Winston Churchill - by then gaining influence - and Haile Selassie - Arnold wasn't impressed, not knowing Selassie was ill. The Emperor also stood on formality and protocol which an Australian bushman had no patience with. It took another visit until Selassie relaxed, then on better terms, more visits proceeded. 

The British Prime Minister, Chamberlain, actually signed the Anglo-Italian pact while Arnold was in England - an act of treachery to Ethiopia. Shocked, but never giving up, Arnold left. Returned home and tried desperately to raise interest in Australia about Ethiopia's plight. While home, as lackeys to Britain, we declared war on Germany.  WW2 was beginning.

He went to Aden (then a British colony, now part of Yemen) - across the Red Sea from Ethiopia - and swotted madly, learning Arabic and Amharic with an Abyssinian tutor. He waited for the Italians to enter the war. Soon as they did, they were our enemy too - he enlisted in British forces to help Ethiopia. It was his sixty third year of life. 

Arnold Wienholt had a strong sense of justice and like a knight of legend, went on quest for a noble cause. He could not stand by and watch evil run rampant over good people, a good country, when he could do something about it. He was disgusted with Britain's attitude. He needed to salvage some honour. Intelligent and brave, knowing he was old and slower, with a dodgy hand, and the chance he may not see his loved ones again, he set off. He is the type of man we can all be proud of. Idealistic, yes, but where would the world be without King Arthur and Arnold Wienholt. He sent much news back to Australia, highly praising the Patriots (guerilla forces) and the courage of Ethiopians.

He was put with Mission 101 (Gideon Force) and set off with some Sudanese'  some reports said to find a way to smuggle the Emperor back in, but it would appear he was sent to spy on a Italian outpost. There were no horses or ponies available - reluctantly he had to take mules with their gear - possibly these noisy things betrayed him.

On the 10th September 1940, the Italians shot him. 18 Italians and 10 local Gumz tribemen forced to join the Italians, ambushed him.  They did not ask him to surrender. The end of a fantastic life of adventure. He left a wife, Enid, and daughter, Anne, behind in Australia. Arnold was wounded and seen running into the bush; his body was never found.

In Queensland the Wienholt family had widespread pastoral interests and were active horse breeders. They bred horses for the overseas trade (Walers), and Arnold's uncle, also Arnold, set up the famous Clydesdale stud on Maryvale in 1855 - in fact their first three stallions which founded the stud were Shires. It was ok to dual register Shires as Clydes, in fact necessary to improve; but Clydes could not be registered at Shires. Shires origional breed name was English Cart Horse. One needs to follow the breeding to know what a horse really was - Shires being a more active draught, four square, Clydes being narrow behind to follow a plough, low head carriage and little bottom (stamina under exertion above a walk). The Maryvale Studbook was started 20 years before the Scottish Clydesdale Studbook. 

The family also owned a ship and took horses to India. Arnold (our Arnold) bought two Clydie stallions from the Prince Consort at Windsor. He imported a few Thoroughbreds such as Borghese and Thor in 1908 to put over station mares (non-TB) and Tinspear by Spearmint, which was a good winner, to breed racing TB's. 

He entered politics, and was an astute buyer and manager of pastoral properies in Queensland, from which his fortune was largely derived. On Washpool Farm, Kalbar in Fassifern district, the family property, they imported a lot of top quality Thoroughbreds and used a horse called Grey Arab from Maitland. Their methods were the usual Waler breeding methods - crossing draughts, ponies and TB's for a military type. It would be fitting if some Wienholt horse blood went to Selassie's stables. Wilfred Thesiger wrote about him, in his autobiography. Books are written about Wienholt, and he too wrote good books. A truly remarkable man. 

In 1968 Haile Selassi visited Australia and laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. This is on film, one can see Selassie deep in thought, looking very sad, standing a long time looking down at this wreath. The AWM is the heart of Australia. It's highly important to us, it's here we remember that war is terrible, and our loved ones who have died fighting, virtually all in foreign lands never to come home. It's a pilgrimage to the AWM to pay our respects. It certainly touched Australian hearts to see Selassie there in deep respect and mourning too. 

This lovely news article about Arnold Wienholt was published at the time of Selassie's visit.

rough guide to colonies in 1935 - Abyssinia was still free, fighting off the Italians

Mussolini was in power in Italy - a fascist regime. France made a deal with the Italians - giving them part of Tunis and French Somaliland in the hope Italy would fend off Nazi Germany back in France. In 1935 Mussolini began massing forces along the borders of Ethiopia. Britain at first tried to help, but then cleared the way for the Italians by removing their Navy from the area, in a futile effort to stop an all out war with Italy. They put an arms embargo on Italy as another token and useless effort. Token efforts are no efforts when it comes to preventing war. Australia put trade restrictions on Italy, again, useless.

While governments did not act to help Ethiopia, papers were full of pleas around the world to help and in August 1935 the various Christian religions united in four days of prayer for Ethiopia. More than prayer was needed. 

In Italy people opposed this war but most were too frightened to protest; facists ruled. However the word "Adowa" mysteriously appeared painted on troop transport, trains, planes, vehicles - warning that Ethiopia had thrashed Italy last time they fought. It was silent support for Ethiopia.

Abyssinia, faced with invasion and no-one as friend despite begging for help, quickly began to mobilise their under-equipped army. Courage was one thing the Ethiopians had in abundance. Women too joined up, both as infantry and mounted soldiers such as the one above. Photo, State Library of Victoria.

Selassi sent out appeals for enlistment - every person must join up. Italy invaded in October 1935 without a declaration of war.  Atrocities by Italian forces began mounting up including the widespread use of chemical weapons. The world sat by and didn't lift a hand to help - not even stopping Italy from using the Suez Canal. The use of gas by the Italians is one of the worst all time war crimes. People around the world made private donations to send gas masks and medical supplies to Ethiopia. The Italians did several massacres - one of over 10,000 people; killed POWs, slaughtered monks in monastries and other atrocities. The Pope said little and his Bishops wholeheartedly supported these crimes. An indictment on the Catholic church - and no apology to date.

Abyssinian cavalry - Royal Guard.
photo: Sir George Grey Collection, Auckland Libraries, NZ
From a supplement to the Auckland City News, 25th September 1935 .
This disciplined and courageous Imperial Guard fought heroically at the Battle of Maychew - the last big battle against the Italians. They lost many men.

A surprising number of 'soldiers of fortune' arrived to help. A few were mercenaries only interested in a pay cheque, Ethiopia was strapped for cash so there was no chance of that; more were seasoned soldiers, of many nationalities, wanting to fight for a good cause, crusaders - old battle horses who got the scent of adventure in their nostrils again and pawed the earth, 'He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting...'

One mercenary, Wehib Pasha, was an Ottoman Turk with an exciting fighting background (Gallipoli, the Balkans etc). A Muslim, he did much to enlist Muslims in Somalia to help Ethiopians as a jihad, he became Ras Nasibu's Second in Command - they held southern Ethiopia.

While Belgium training officers were ordered home, older distinguished Belgium officers dashed over from Belgium. WW1 decorated hero Major de Reul left his rose garden of retirement for adventure. Russians from the Wrangel times came, a few British (the British Foreign Office would not issue passports to those wanting to volunteer in Ethiopia or many more would have come over); from North America two aviators (one the famous John Robinson, the other the volatile Hubert Julien); and others. The Swedish General Eric Virgin who arrived in 1933, was invaluable. Colonel R.J. Sordy, an English veterinary surgeon, came over to help the horses during the war against the Italians.

An Ethiopian army review in 1935 at the start of this war in this footage shows good mounted units. Strong Ethiopian mules are used to carry artillery and baggage. From 3.27 on, is excellent footage of the Ethiopians mounted band, mounted troops, and the more formal cavalry of the Imperial Guard.  From 10.36 Selassie is on a big bay. It certainly looks like a Waler and as he had bought many, probably is. The book Haile Selassie's war by Anthony Mockler mentions these big Australian horses.

Also in 1935 a lengthy article in Australian papers (e.g. Sun of 15th December) by B.S. Merlin, a former Major-General in the Imperial Russian Army and retired to NZ, gave an insight to the Russian connection with Ethiopia and the courage of Ethiopians. He'd been there during the first war with the Italians.  The article gave an in-depth account of the first Italo-Ethiopian war and lengthy quotes from the then Emperor, Menelik. The author, an experienced military man and familiar with Ethiopian strategies, gave the opinion Ethiopia could soundly beat the Italians again. Many of their army had trained in St Petersburg at the Cadet School and Michael Artillery School. It did not occur to Merlin, nor anyone, that Italy would stoop to the low of using gas.

This war was the first to become fully mechanised - machines dominated. The Italians, unlike their previous war against Ethiopia, had the latest in everything. Soldiers on horses and on foot with spears and rifles - against war planes, tanks and modern firepower - the courage and chivalry of the past met mechanical brutality head on. The miracle is the Ethiopians held out so well, it being the filthy crime of gas, which had been outlawed after WW1, that knocked them about. 

Despite standing by the world watched this war very closely. The lesson was learned. Horses, along with cold steel, were anachronisms (sob). Mechanisation was vital - next minute it was WW2. There were cavalry charges in WW2 despite modern weapons - the Italians and the Ethiopians (action decribed in Jeff Pearce's book, listed in resources).

 Footage during this war, at the beginning is Haile Selassi on his war horse Kagnew and a little further on some good horses, loose. Of interest, a tent in Selassie's army camp has a US flag outside it.

The war was closely followed in Australia with shocked outrage at the Italian use of gas and slaughter of civilians. There was popular support for Abyssinia. This drawing was done by an 13 year old girl, Majorie Penglaze, published in the Australasian on 21st September 1935.

Europe was busy preparing for possible war - Hitler was on the march in early 1936 and approaching France. They were happy to let Mussolini have Abyssinia in return for Italian support - but Mussolini sided with Hitler.

Brave Ethiopia did not officially surrender despite being largely over-run. In May 1936, Emperor Haile Selassi was forced into exile. In 1939 World War Two began - soon many countries came, united, to the aid of Ethiopia to drive out the Italians. It is extraordinary that the Ras' and their guerrilla forces for many years held out against the Italians so successfully. Cavalry came from Jordan on fine Arabian steeds, cameleers, Bedouin, Australians, more.

Many African units came to help. Really, these tough fighters were the ones who won Ethiopia back with gallant fighting and true grit in tough conditions. Natal Rifles, East African Brigades, South Africans, Transvaal men, Nigerians, Kenyans, brilliant engineers urgently building roads and more.

A film of the well organised guerrilla forces of Ras Abebe Aregay who held out against the Italians for 5 long years until international help arrived. Some good Ethiopian horses at the beginning.

Ethiopian troops in the Second Italo-Ethiopian war. Their army was greatly under-resourced, fighting new weapons with old - yet their military skills saw them fight with good strategy and tactics and make it a close run thing. It was only the cowardly use of gas that stopped an early Ethiopian victory. source is this blog
Resistance fighters, WW2 Ethiopia.  Photo from the Tumblr blog "Lock Stock and History" of 'Peashooter85'.

By 1940 Italy controlled three quarters of Ethiopia, although most world powers refused to acknowledge the country was Italy's. Guerrillas continued bravely fighting for their Ethiopia. Indeed, the resistance was well organised - an incredible story - they held out for years until help arrived. Many were known for their choice of a wild shaggy hair style.

Before long the Allies pushed into Ethiopia to fight Italian forces who were part of the Axis, our enemy in that war. Ethiopia had always gone to war with the grand final battle, moreso than skirmishing and little fights, being the decisive factor. This time it was the immense Battle of Maychew.

The underhand use of chemical weapons belittles the courage of some Italians, including cavalry greats such as Amedeo Guillet, who had lived in Africa a long time, and Renato Togni. Togni charged with thirty of his men as a delaying tactic to let his comrades retreat and re-form. Ironically most of this Gruppo Bande were Ethiopians who had joined the Italians, with Eritrean NCO's and Italian officers. When they got close, they hurled grenades. Heroic but fatal - they were mowed down by tank fire and machine guns - although the grenades had some impact as the tank guns were initially trained too high and the horsemen got surprisingly close. Only two made it back to their lines. Togni persisted, throwing grenades until he and his horse were brought down by machine guns. The British and Indians of Skinners Horse, with Captain Douglas Gray, saluted his body. Another Italian charge with 60 men at the machine guns of Gazelle force got to within 25 yards of the machine guns; most were killed.

The Italians had a good cavalry but despite troops numbering well over 200,000 also had to rely on Yemeni mercenaries (due to British brutality in Aden, Yemen sided with Italy, in fact they had a new treaty with Mussolini and their Iman Yahya had gifted the King of Italy and Mussolini some Arab horses). Amedeo and many of the forces had grave concerns over how Mussolini conducted war, his insidious race laws against Jews and fascism.  It is of course not a judgement on all people of a country when bad governments do shocking things, but impossible to understand men fighting for bad causes and committing war crimes. Amedeo rode a grey named Sandor he'd got in Egypt, he also had Libyan 
his riding with him. His horse was captured by the British, but Amedeo eluded them.

Five Australians, with our army in Palestine, volunteered to help Ethiopia. They were Lieut. Allan Brown of Randwick, Sgt. Ken Burke of Newcastle, Sgt. Ted Body of Geangie, Sgt. Bill Howell of Bowral and Sgt. Ron Wood of Manly. They were specially trained and the very first special forces for Australia. They spent time with Ras Kassa in Jerusalem, learning all they could. They did an outstanding job in Ethiopia and with the Patriots, won some major battles. In 1941 once the country was won, they were given leave in Cairo before being sent elsewhere.

In May 1941, five years after his exile, Haile Selassi returned in triumph - Italy was defeated a
nd Abyssinia returned to the Emperor. Selassi's interest in international affairs, despite the failure of the League of Nations to help his country, led to Ethiopia becoming a charter (founding) member of the United Nations.  

An Australian doctor, Ray Last, had been sent to Abyssinia in charge of the British Red Cross in 1941. He became Haile Selassi's personal surgeon for three years during the war and operated on his son, an appendicectomy, with a worried Haile's beard actually tickling his shoulder during the operation. Dr Last FRCS FRACS  became Professor of Applied Anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons. details His wife Margaret Last was a nurse in Ethiopia at that time, helping the British Red Cross.
Dr. Ray Last in Abysinnia

March 1941. Selassie was finally back in his own country after a frustrating wait on strict British orders, in Sudan. On a Waler he'd ridden some 200 miles looking at country, scouting out Italian positions. About to go back to camp here. 
When it was time for the triumphant return to Addis Ababa, Wingate chose a grey (white) horse for Selassie, but the Emperor was saddle sore by then and chose to ride in an open car, instead, Wingate rode the horse. The bridle on this horse is Australian, the military headstall-bridle with the military pelham (known as a 9th Lancer) bit we used.

During WW2 when Selassi was put back on his throne, a treaty with England saw the British Military Mission set up to help train the Ethiopian army. Selassi also re-instated an Imperial Guard - on Walers - to be under his direct control. In 1951 the British Military Mission ended as he obtained North American help for military matters, Selassi was anxious not to come too much under the power of any one nation. During the war and after, roving bands of brigands left over from the rebel days were assimilated into an army called the Territorials. The British Mission also brought horses in and set up racing and polo.

Until WW2 Ethiopia had no national army, but the Imperial Guard and personal troops of the Emperor and various nobles and Ras officials. The British helped Ethiopia get a national standing army trained and equipped after 1941. 
some people murdered by the Italians and more on Ethiopia


Khosrof Gorgorius Boghossian...

A good brave man of great loyalty, Khosrof came to Australia to select Walers for Haile Selassie after WW2 - he specifically asked for Walers and toured studs and horse breeding properties on the Darling Downs, Queensland, where conditions are much like Ethiopian highlands, and also visited Darwin where he liked the Northern Territory horses too. He said most Ethiopian horses had been deliberately shot by the Italians in the 30's and early 40's war, numbers were still recovering.

He was a veterinarian and had also served in the Ethiopian army with great gallantry. Boghossian had Armenian ancestors. He was born in Addis Ababa in 1904, his parents were Krikor Boghossian who had faithfully served King Menelik, and Charlotte, an Ethiopian raised in France.

Khosrof on the right, his sister (centre), brother (left), and father (seated).
The sons of the family fought bravely during the second Italo-Ethiopian war of 1935-41, and helped Selassie escape at the last moment into exile- he spent from 1936 until 1941 in England. For his part in aiding Selassie escape, which he admitted when asked, Khosrov was made a POW by the Italians and sent to jail in Italy. He was there for seven years, only freed when the British and Canadians took Italy during WW2. 

After the war, Selassie made him a Major  in the Imperial Guard, where he eventually made Colonel. He preferred however to be a veterinarian. The Pastor Institute had been established in Ethiopia in 1942, and provided a sheltering organisation for vets too. Boghossian looked after Selassie's stud horses as part of his duties, a great horse vet. He married and had two children, a daughter and a son, who both moved to the United States. They had been raised by members of his family during his imprisonment. His son Alexander became an artist.

Emperor Haile Selassi mounted, and Khosrof Boghossian unmounted. There were traditional beliefs certain colours of horses had different capabilities, being grey, black, chestnut and bay. This horse is possibly a Waler; if one of those supplied by Curtis Skene it would have been breedy as this one looks.

Khosrof died in Addis Adaba in 197o, before his good friend Haile Selassie was deposed. Being a great horseman, travelled and educated, Khosrof had found Walers were the best military mounts, accordingly selected those for the Emperor. He was reported in Australia with great pride when he visited to select horses and was the  official bearer of greetings to Prime Minister Chifley from Emperor Selassie. A great Ethiopian.


Haile Selassie...

Haile Selassi's birth name was Tafari Makonnen. He became a Ras. He was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, born in 1892. His family, like many Ethiopian aristocrats, traced its descent to the Bible and much further back - he was descended from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. It was perhaps this that led to the Rastafarian movement - taking its name from his name and title - Ras Tafari. 

They believed him an embodiment of the Messiah, bringing an era of peace and enlightenment. He didn't believe in this holy status himself and refuted it whole heartedly in an interview; however he was a firm believer in his divine right to rule - after all, the Royal line of Ethiopia is recorded up to 7,000 years back, the oldest in the world. He wanted the diaspora to return to Africa and encouraged them, welcoming them all to Ethiopia. He loved them as they loved him.

His Royal name of Haile Selassie translates as Power of the Trinity. Selassi travelled widely throughout Eu
rope and the Levant in the 1920's before he became Emperor, looking at schools, hospitals, infrastructure, being conscious to retain local integrity with ownership in his countries enterprises and famously said, "We need European progress only because we are surrounded by it. That is at once a benefit and a misfortune."

For his Coronation, among other things, he bought the coach of Kaiser Wilhelm I in Germany, with a team of white Hapsburg horses and employed the coachman who used to drive Franz Joseph about. Selassie was well known for his great love of horses.

Selassie befriended a doctor, Dr. Thomas Lambie, who on horseback made many long trips through Abyssinia from 1919, on medical missions for Tafari when he was Regent. 
In the Italian war of the 1930's Dr Lambie was in charge of the Red Cross, flying on perilous missions to help the gassed and wounded. He was greatly admired by Arnold Wienholt. 
In 2001 the Long Riders Guild published this book about Lambie in Ethiopia.

In England, Selassie swapped two lions for the Imperial crown taken by Napier. In Jerusalem he adopted 40 Armenian orphans, they were taught music and became his brass band; accomplished musicians they composed the Ethiopian National Anthem. 

Selassie's ascension to the throne was via a rocky but successful route. At his coronation in 1930, dignitaries from around the world came to attend the lavish occasion. He was crowned Negusa Nagast (King of Kings) - Emperor. 

He captured the attention of the world. He was charismatic, all who met him spoke of his personal warmth, aura of majesty and direct eyes. He gave hope to Africa and the world and was univerally admired, seeming the embodiment of a fairytale of the fight for right and good, like King Arthur.

Soon he was embroiled in the second war with Italy, issuing instructions for all able bodied people to join the army on pain of punishment otherwise by confiscating part of their possessions, and issuing instructions about what to do in airstrikes. The chemical attacks by Italy even targeted Red Cross hospitals. 

After the battle of Maychew and the Italians gained Addis Ababa, a council of Royal advisors voted in favour of Selassie leaving the country rather than fighting a guerrilla war, so he could gain help from the League of Nations and Britain. The Boghossian family helped him escape via an underground network. They got him to Djibouti where he boarded HMAS Enterprise, stopping to visit Jerusalem in Palestine, where the Royal family had a house and the Ethiopian Orthodox church had a monastry near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. On HMAS Capetown he continued to Gibralter, then by the Orient steamer Orford to England. Although his 'visit' was unofficial, big crowds and anti-fascists welcomed him with banners and much cheering.

Selassie gave one of the greatest speeches of the twentieth century to the League of Nations in Geneva, after the whistling and jeering of the Italians there was silenced. Heart-rending in its description of the wide bombardments of chemicals rains and the urgent need for help.

During his exile Selassie lived in Bath, England, where he attended church and paid courtesy visits to the mosque there, fought to expose Italian propaganda and tried vigorously to get help for his country - ultimately having success. The cold meant he was very ill there. He was befriended by the outstanding emancipist Sylvia Pankhurst, in 1954 she and her son Richard moved to Addis Ababa; Richard remains there, a renown historian. 

Britain declared Haile an Ally when WW2 broke out, hence Selassie set off for Africa again to fight, knowing he had the Allies at last to back him up. The Italians slaughtered his two sons in law, and took one of his daughters and her children captive - she died in Italy. 

photo from pinterest no other details
looks like a Waler

British-raised forces known as Gideon Force including South African personel helped him gain his land back, along with Belgium, France, the Commonwealth of Nations, and US and UK forces (which of course included Indian, Canadian and Australian troops) and the African colonial units which were crucial.

Gideon Force had some interesting people including Laurens Van Der Post, later a famous author about Africa, in charge of the camels, and Wilfred Thesiger, who later wrote books about Arab peoples. The leader Orde Wingate however was a fruitloop. About 300 horses mostly from Sudan went with them. Selassie also went back to fight, going to Khartoum, Sudan from where he and Wingate set out at the same time. 

On Selassie's return he joined the charter of the United Nations.  A great believer in education, he took school numbers from less than 10 schools at the start of his reign, to over 10,000. He also started buying Walers. Lots of Walers.
A Waler with the Emperor's elite cavalry, Addis Adaba.
Photo taken in the 1950's by Dimitrios E. Kyriazis; collection in the Eliot Elisofoson archives in the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian
Haile Selassie returning in June 1941 accompanied by a Sudanese mounted escort. Walers had been supplied to the forces in Sudan, these may be Walers or they may be Dongola horses. 

Eritrea, formerly part of Ethiopia, was given its own Constitution in 1950 but from the beginning of the 1960's strove for independence - this became a 30 year war backed by the Soviets who later a backed the junta that took over from Selassie. 

Selassie helped bring peace to much of the region but his reforms for his own country were usually mired down by church and state - the Soviets took advantage of this. Selassie himself was to blame, stuck in an autocratic belief system that aristocrats rather than democracy should rule, and allowed corruption to seep into his rule. His human rights record went downhill -  imprisonments for small offences, the death sentence - mark of a weak society - often for arbitrary 'crimes' such as being perceived as a threat. Poverty swept the land.

In 1955 he created a Constitution in an effort to modernise. It was more a token than a power for change. In 1960 the leader of the Kebur Zabagna and others staged a coup, putting Selassie's son on the throne. Social unrest due to injustice was changing to open rebellion. The coup was overthrown, others of the Kebur Zabagna and armed forces putting Selassie back on his throne; he forgave his son. But nothing changed. interview about the coup with Dr Asfa-Wossen Asserate who was there at the time.

Imperial horse Guard in 1960. Horses bred from Walers, Ethiopian horses, Thoroughbreds and Lipizzaners. 
Photo by A. Hershfield. Uni of Wisconsin-Madison.

In the tragic famine of 1973 the numbers were exaggerated and a propaganda film made, cutting parts of a documentary of the famine with the Emperor presiding over a wedding feast at the palace. This was played all day on TV stations, thus propaganda turned the most faithful against their leader and gave the army courage to seize him.

Behind much political unrest and misery remain the shadowy hands of empire, from Britain to Soviet Russia to North America. Torture and terror by the 'slithering snakes' - special forces - in Ethiopia and Somalia - mostly those of the usual suspect, North America, continues to this day. 

Russia, once a true friend, had become the Soviet empire - a deadly silent enemy to Selassie and Ethiopia, manipulating behind the scenes. In 1974 the people massed in a revolution. Selassie was placed under house arrest. Many of his ministers, the Patriarch of the church, members of his family including his grandson were executed without trial. 

The last Emperor of Ethiopia, Negus Haile Selassie, died (doubtlessly murdered) in the palace where he was imprisoned in 1975. How he is remembered in Ethiopia depends on which account one reads. Certainly a revolution seemed the only answer. Unfortunately it resulted in one despotic ruler being replaced by an infinitely worse one. 

What happened to all his horses, most of them Walers, remains obscured in mystery. The vicious Dergs - using genocide - had no qualms about taking any form of life. Their reign was known as The Red Terror for its barbarity. Indescribable. The effects are felt to this day from the regime of horror.

Ironically a far worse famine occurred during the era of the Red Terror - the Soviet backed Derg movement (Stalinist-Marxist communists), in the mid 1980's. Hundreds of thousands died - many more from human rights abuses. Publicity about famine and genocide was quashed by the regime.

News was heavily censored to a bizarre extent - people knew nothing of what was happening in their own country - Ethiopia suffered terribly and poverty was rife. Many became refugees. 

At last in 1992 the repressive Derg movement was overthrown. Selassie's remains were found; he was given a proper funeral and burial in 2000, in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Royal Guards, during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Addis Ababa in 1966. Selassie and HM rode in the Ethiopian Royal coach pulled by grey Walers bought in South Australia. These Guard horses were bred from Walers, Thoroughbreds, Lipizzaners and local Ethiopian horses on the Royal stud. photo source

When Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia visited Haile Selassi in 1955, he brought 30 Lipizzaner horses for the Royal stud.

 On this visit, Queen Elizabeth gave Selassie a chestnut stallion named Robespierre. Selassie bought many stallions and mares from Australia for breeding his Guard horses. 
HIM Selassie, QE2 and Robespierre, which has the jug head of a Thoroughbred.

Selassie wrote an autobiography, it holds much wisdom.  He is remembered fondly in Australia for his love of our horses and trading with us. His charisma and the belief he was a good African leader gained him many fans here. He also bought horse equipment and employed several Australians, such as several horsemen and veterinary surgeons, in Ethiopia. The roughrider Alan Cook for example went to Ethiopia to handle horses for the Emperor (although he was found unsuitable for reasons not given and returned home from Djibouti, not being taken to Ethiopia; it is thought money had run out for wages). The veterinary surgeon Dr. Coughlin from Tamworth worked there. Mr Woods who went over with the 1,000 horses supplied by Ivan Hall and Curtis Skene remained in Abyssinia, in charge of the Emperor's stables.

Ethiopian horseman during the visit of Queen Elizabeth, 1966.
 Photo by John Leongard, iconic photographer who worked for Life magazine. source

The Imperial Guard - Kebur Zabagna - was an elite force started by Selassie in 1917. The officers were trained at St Cyr in France, the famous military college. Belgium officers were placed in the Imperial Guard. Some Ethiopians trained with the British in Kenya and others with the Italians. This well trained and disciplined force numbering about 3,000, some mounted on Australian horses, fought with great bravery when war arrived. 
Photo from Pinterest, no other details
look like Walers

Selassie founded the Union for African States with Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, which evolved into the African Union (AU). He was also Chairman for a time. The AU helps African countries remain at peace and independent. 

Selassi was a good supporter of Kenya's bid for freedom, knowing the appalling use of torture there by the British - particularly during the Mau Mau uprising - and helped several countries attain peace. His speeches to the AU are legendary. 

The headquarters of the AU are in Addis Ababa. The AU is constantly undermined by ruthless empires who feel threatened by a united Africa - usual suspects the USA and the UK and terror state Israel (interfering in Ethiopian affairs to the extent of orchestrating massacres there in recent years).

One shortfall was his attitude to religion. He supported Christian dominance and ostracised Muslims, foolish in a country where religion is often an ethnic matter. In this way he punished those who weren't Christians and created resentment.
This horse's name is Abba Tekel. Photo on Pinterest with no source. It looks like a Waler crossed to an Ethiopian horse.

On the upside Selassi fought racism globally, a true champion, and encouraged the diaspora to come home - thus many, especially Rastafarians, came to Ethiopia to live - their spiritual home. Selassie was a great champion for Africa and its peoples and a great international citizen.

Selassie is best remembered for the tremendous amount of good among his legacies - such as education of his own country and scholarships throughout Africa; the arts blossomed - Ethiopia had a thriving music scene, the best in the world in Selassie's time. Abolishing slavery, abolishing ritual punishments. Starting Ethiopian Airlines so the vast country had an air service, supporting disarmament, being against nuclear bombs testing, and actively achieving peace among many African countries. His personal physician Paul Merab (Petre Merabishvili) started Ethiopia's first pharmacy.  Selassie didn't get everything right but he got a lot right - he was, after all, human. 

last days of Haile Selassi, account by a person in Ethiopia at the time, emotional reading...


Photo - Oromo men on their horses.
Warriors of the country that has never been conquered - Ethiopia.
A lion mane is worn as a headpiece by some as a badge of courage.
Their horses are called Oromo feresegna, meaning horses of grace.

Native Ponies and horses... 
and Ethiopian horse lore...

There is the Oromo Pony/Horse. Possibly has a bit of Waler blood, of the mountains; and in the east is a rare type, the Kundudo... updating as info to hand... 

Africa has ancient horse cultures, and several outstanding breeds known through the ages. 
There does not appear to be much work done on these horses genetically but probably it's just a matter of finding it.

Millions! Because horses are still used, Ethiopia has an amazingly high population - the world's third largest of equines - horses, donkeys, mules. Several million. 

Beautiful Ethiopian horse in 1928 with a missionary, Dietrich Wasmann, from the Hermansburg Mission (which also ran a much lauded mission in Australia, and which had excellent Walers)
details and source
Same missionary, 1928, great Ethiopian horse, standing up like a perfect cavalry horse.

The Ras historically rode a mule as a badge of office for various ceremonial occasions before the European custom of dignatories being seen on a horse took over. Mules were worth up to four times the price of a horse and were highly regarded. Horses were used by Emperors in time of war, they were faster and more agile. Mules were often ridden en route to battle to keep the war horses fresh. 

Entourage departing after the coronation of Negus Tafari Makonnen 1928. 
Ethiopian horses. 

Being a horsey nation means one can follow the equine genes along various historical tracks. Ethiope was a vast nation encompassing much of Arabia all the way to eastern India. Horses were a major trading commodity. Arab aristocrats raised large numbers of horses for sale chiefly as cavalry animals. The Barb originated in northern Africa. Hence the Arabian horse breed evolved in the Middle East, Syria etc from the Barb and European horses that came through the Levant from various sources and were bred with ponies from S.E. Asia, China (Tea Horse Road) and India. Some of these found their way to Ethiopia with trade and tribute - remembering Ethiopia once possessed good ports. There were caravan routes from ports inland that went both ways trading. The countries around the Mediterranean were trading places for horses and ponies to Africa and back. More horses were traded from Ethiopia out than in - it was excellent horse raising country, fertile and vast.

Old breeds like the pony of Spain - later the jennet then palfrey of Europe - which paced - probably came over from Africa. The other theory is the Iberian horse went to Africa. Whatever - it was so long ago, and good horses were traded from Africa in the centuries until motors made them redundant, hence founded many other breeds. This blog with photos mentions Barbs that naturally amble (pace) in Niger, a trait with some of this breed - and a comfortable travelling gait. 

On these trade routes Ancient Greece had good horses particularly in Thessaly. Turkey always had good horses. Russian and Siberian horses came down trade routes - both land and sea - horses around the trade port of Vladivostock were a trading commodity (further over, Kurdistan etc were on the Tea Horse Road), horses traded for tea and coffee. Portugal were great horse traders and went all around Africa, India and S.E. Asia from the fifteenth century. Indians came over to Africa on monsoon winds trading. Throw Syria, Persia and Mesopotamia into the equine melting pot as the Red Sea was a great trading route and Ethiopia would had the best of everywhere at some time or another, both directly and indirectly - but of course - they got Walers too! Horses would have been a valuable trading commodity for Ethiopia, blessed with great horse raising areas; no doubt more horses got traded out than came in.

The Dongola would possibly have been the major breed of the country. Given the conformation and unusual markings, one wonders did the Dongola form the basis of the Ethiopian horse - or vica versa?  They would share a common genetic history . The proximity of Middle Eastern areas - some once part of the greater Ethiopia -  have given Ethiopia a fascinating trade history. Constant trade from India and the East Indies (Indonesia) brought in good Asian ponies of ancient cavalry lineage. 

The horse nations of Africa had fabulous breeds for as long as anywhere. The Dongola was one such great breed - in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Eritrea and Sudan - and used, like the Barb, to improve other breeds throughout the world during the middle ages and into the nineteenth century. It was like a strong active coach horse and cavalry horse. Very much like the modern Lusitano.

Traveller John Burkhardt in the mid nineteenth century described Dongolas of Ethiopia and Sudan in glowing terms. He noted they were a major trade item - going to Berber (hence, Barbs), Sennar and Suakim for transport by sea, and along the Red Sea to widespread markets. They were immensely valuable - a stallion the price of ten superiour slaves. Burkhardt said many Dongolas went from Suakim over to Yemen annually, and going with traders throughout Arabia, attributed the improvement in those horses and those of Turkey, to these. Arab horses probably got their white markings from the Dongola. 

Dongolas were solid colours but also known for strange white markings on many. These popped up on the Barb of old, as many Dongolas went to northern Africa, more when when the Pasha of Egypt took Nubia about 1820. Dongolas bred with Barbs over centuries, to a lesser degree. The Barb (also called Berber) in turn went to England and Europe, and its genes went into the Thoroughbred, hence, Waler, and we see small expression of old Donogla marks at times. Hence, Ethiopia had a small, remote but real influence on the Waler.

Dongola horse - Roman nose, great colour genes.
Picture from Wiki.

James Bruce describes a black 16.2 Dongola horse he bought in Tigray when he travelled in Africa 1763-68; his book published 1819. He said they had immense stamina, being world famous, and that the Fuji Kingdom of Sennar which encompassed Dongola, largely bred them for Ethiopian cavalries.

It was said the Abyssinian cavalry were mounted on Dongola horses in the second Italian-Ethiopian war of the 1930's (source Wiki). 

The Dongola horses were taken to  Germany, Italy and Britain etc to improve European horses. The Pasha gifted some to Italy, the Germans sent an envoy who brought back nine in the late eighteenth century.  Sir Frederick Knight took several stallions to England in the mid nineteenth century. They had interesting colour and marking genes; although most were solid black or bay. It's highly probable rare old markings seen in some Thoroughbreds of the past, hence in the Waler, came from Barb and Dongola genes. These genes are in the Darfur horse of western Sudan, eastern Chad. Darfur area of Sudan has a great horse festival once a year, an event hundreds of years old. The heart of Dongola country, Darfur suffered much from British brutality in the times of the wars there. It has conflict and refugee camps even now, from internal war. Dongola is a town in Sudan, once this area was called Nubia - famous for its cavalry. It was on the caravan route. Nubian horses (Dongolas) were famous from Roman times, in Europe. 

Richard II of England had a horse named Roan Barbary, in the 1300's. African horses were being traded from earliest times. In the European middle ages, Barbs were very popular.
Slatin Pasha (Major General Rudolph Anton Carl Freiherr von Slatin) on his performing horse Plum Pudding from Darfur in Sudan. 
Painting by the famous American horse artist Frederic Remington, reproduced in Harper's Weekly, June, 1896.

The horses of Sudan were much admired by the British in the wars there. The famous Slatin Pasha (Rudolph Karl), an Austrian in the British army and Governor of part of Sudan, converted to Islam to inspire his troops, and rode a much admired Dongola throughout the war against the Mahdists. They make brilliant polo horses - polo is fiecely competitive in Sudan. In times of war they had great padded and metal horse armour - as well as for rider; still used in festivals.

Nigeria, another horse culture, also has tremendous horse festivals. Sudan too - Sudanese riders were always greatly admired in Australian news in the past, even when they were fighting against the British empire, our overlords. It was one of the highest compliments an Australian could make in those days, to call someone a good horseman.

White leg and face markings are desired in Ethiopia and some other African places such as Nigeria due to superstitions these horses are better - yet in cold climates, it's the opposite! - white leg markings are regarded as unlucky, because in a cold, wet, muddy climate, white pigmented skin gets mud sores causing mud fever, an awful affliction; in a dry climate this would not be a problem; perhaps indeed the light colour on extremities kept a horse cooler than black points. 
photo: Fitaurari (Commander) Raagoo from Bedele, mounted, with lance; Ethiopian horse showing markings sought by some as a good sign. One can see the similarity to Dongola markings too. source

It is of interest that the white leg markings and white nose was also a mark of a 'lucky' horse in Indonesia in the past. White noses, however, are shunned in most places due to sunburn and mud fever. In the wild these markings minimilise and disappear. 

These markings may have been bred especially, to show a person could have such markings, healthily, due to extra good horse care - shade and dry shelter when needed - perhaps servants to make sure the special markings were looked after. Maybe a sign of wealth. Very likely a magical belief. Horse magic was important in most horse cultures, Britain (George Ewart Evans' book The Horse in the Furrow has a good bit about it) and Indonesia (magic is called lulik on Timor and that was a top pony breeding island for centuries) for example. Magic is a powerful force for good in horse cultures. Magic can become superstition, which we all have to some extent. There was regular Ethiopian contact with the islands of Indonesia (particularly Java and Malacca) by traders, who sailed when the monsoons blew. Those islands got their ponies from Timor.

Probably some people like white markings. The patterns on the Ethiopian horses are fascinating and seem to be a safe genetical footprint; thankfully without the lethal markings (frame overo, seen in many American horses), from the little one can see on the net. A sign horsepeople are still in touch with wise breeding in Ethiopia. Walers have a couple of identical markings to Dongola horses. Hoof care would be a huge factor in white footed animals. Sound breeders avoid excessive white markings.

As humans came out of the ground there (Ethiopia) maybe horses did too. In recent times, a fossil 4 and half million year old was found, it proves ancestors of the horse were indeed were in Ethiopia. It may well be the cradle of the horse... article.

As the horses of Ethiopia have been used for cavalry for hundreds, possibly thousands of years, they are a unique type, special to their country and the world. No doubt their blood went into other breeds. It may have been in Ethiopia the Barb evolved, the horses all modern horses (equus caballus) descend from.

Guugsii/garmaama/gugs... From the long tradition of cavalry in Ethiopia games have arisen, like all these sports as a way of staying battle fit and skilled, and maintaining traditional ways. Similar to the Pasola of Sumba, called Gugs.  Similar to jousting. Two teams form. Each rider has three spears - a sport version which is not lethally pointed. The aim is to hit the opposition on head or body - each rider also has a round leather shield to fend these spears off. These competitions are held at wedding celebrations and religious ceremonies such as the Ethiopian New Year. Riders wear traditional garb and the horses are beautifully decorated. They shout 'fukara,' a boastful term, to frighten their enemy and give themselves courage.  People on foot dart among the warriors tossing fallen spears back to them during battle. Information from the book Ethiopia, by Paul Milias. 

Cirit in Kyrgyztan and Pasola in Sumba are almost identical games. 

Oromo men in a mock duel (Gugs), 

photos by Herbert Lewis, taken 1965-6. 

Uni of Wisconsin-Madison.

Oromo horses went to England in 1861. This the time Speedy was in Ethiopia, he'd been hunting in Africa in the 1850's and got tangled up in the court of Emperor Tewodrus II (the tale). In fact, as a rather obvious spy he was sent to 'help' the Emperor train his forces. As they fell out Speedy had to leave pronto, thus dashed off to NZ in 1864 to fight the Maori. It may have been that the horses sent to England were gifts. Many Abyssinian horses of the Oromo people have green eyes and interesting rosettes on their coats. Green eyes are caused by a double dilution of the cream gene and/or pearl gene.

King Fasiledes had a horse named Zobal which saved his life in battle, he built a great tomb for this horse when it died. Zobel features in more than one story. Iyasu I rode Zobel back from Sudan when he heard of the death of his father, Yohannes I. The horse was a great walker (a Waler attribute too) and could jump over 25 metres, and was fast enough to escape bandits on the arduous journey home. The tomb was built by Fasilides' pool, in a beautiful garden, the pool being filled once a year for celebrating Christ's baptism.

Ethiopian warriors, painting circa 1700

Shaista Khan, governor of Deccan, meeting the Abyssinian General, Siddi Amber. 
By artist Zayn al-Abidin; detail of a bigger painting.

This picture (above) shows an historical connection between Ethiopia and India during the Mughal era in India - an era that loved horses and traded them madly. The monsoons always saw trading ships set off between the two countries. Handy info for anyone tracing horse trades of old. Malik Ambar (in above painting) is an exciting hero of Deccan in the Mughal era. A slave from Ethiopia, he became free and had his own army - he fought the Mughals. A great statesman, soldier and horseman. Hamishi, known as Ikhlas Khan, was another Ethiopian who rose to great prominence in India. Abyssinians in the cavalry of Deccan were among the best in the time of the British there too.
In India and Pakistan, is an ethnic group called the Siddi/Seydi. These people are of African descent. One theory is 'Siddi' was an Arabic word for Abyssinia, as Arabs traded between the two countries. It may have several origions. Some people went as slaves, however there were migrations of Africans to India over many centuries and friendly trade. In the book The African Dispersal to Deccan, the author discusses the Siddi people and their cavalry skills. 

Abyssinian and Somali people were in the Deccan cavalry into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries too, and great at breaking in wild Australian horses - Walers, bought by the Nizam of Deccan. The Nizam set up a stud and military horse depot based on Walers. In 1939 there were 150 Abyssinians serving as bodyguard to the Nizam on Australian horses and another 2,700 Walers in his cavalry. The Nizam at the time (also called the Nizam of Hyderabad) was the richest man in the world. Fabulous wealth and palaces. Of interest, the police in Hyderabad have fine looking horses in the current era that look a lot like Ethiopian horses.

Horses were also taken from place to place as tribute - a form of tax. Muslims going to Mecca for centuries - Mecca was across the Red Sea, not far from Abyssinia - brought back Arab horses as tribute, and took horses over at times.

When the Romans invaded Africa in Caesar's time (also Scipio brought thousands of horses as well as liasing with the Nubian cavalry) they found the Nubian cavalry an admirable force. Hannibal employed them to effect. Their horses were smaller but more fleet than those of the German, Gallic (French), Spanish and Italian horses brought over with the Romans. So several thousand Roman horses came in and the trade route down the Nile meant some of this blood could have come to Ethiopia too. Nubia was the area that is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan, on the Nile. 

Hausa. A widespread language - Chad, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan, Ivory Coast, etc - where did the word 'horse' come from anyway?

Other great horse nations of peoples of Africa, such as the Nigerians, would have all contributed horse genes with trade and tribute, war and peace. 


blog, looks back deeply... brill look at how long horses may have been used in Africa, probably longer than a lot of accounts give.

The Early History of Ethiopian Horse Names... 1989 article by Richard Pankhurst, published in Paideuma. Lots of horse lore.

 A Study of the Ethiopian Culture of Horse Names. 
1969, Mahatama-Sellasie Walda-Masqal, published in the Journal of Ethiopian Studies Vol. 7, No. 2. 

if you click on the link on this webpage, and read page 10, it's got great info on the horse name legacy.  refers to work of above two scholars.

Horsemen of Old Time Ethiopia, another Richard Pankhurst article, published in the Ethiopia Observer. Sounds great, haven't been able to access it to read yet.

The Horse in Western African History, book by Robin Law published 1980, OUP. Still available, and a fair bit can be read online. Some good bit of research such as Turks trading, Arabs trading, India trade, Mongol invasion attempts and so on, refers to some great Arab travellers; but as Rosemary Harris points out in a Cambridge journal review, he's not a horseman. There are things important and intrinsic to horse history that only a horseperson understands and realises matter enormously. He says horses came to Ethiopia in the 7th century, down the Nile from Nubia. Must say one would think they had been there longer, anyway, a good reference book with some useful info, although west Africa, still very handy.

Collection of ancient Ethiopian manuscipts, resource for the scholar, amazing. For one as simple as me, even a keyword search brings up a wealth of horse references. They don't seem to be digitilised but some can be sent for as paper copies or microfilm. The language seems to be Ge-ez, an old semitic language of Ethiopia/Eritrea/Tigray used mostly for liturgy these days. There's a reference to a miracle in which the Archangel sent Theodore a white horse, and other exciting bits of lore, plus illustrations.
The Ethiopians, A History - book by Richard Pankhurst, and other books on Ethiopia by Richard Pankhurst - top resources and reading.

Tales of the Outposts, Volume IX (Africa), various authors including Baden-Powell. Dervishes/Rebels in one chapter.

The British Campaign in Abyssinia, Captain Hozier.

Diary of a Journey to Abyssinia, 1868, William Simpson.

A Voyage to Abyssinia and Journey to the Interior of that Country , Henry Salt, 1814. Salt's book is a good background, he mentions horses a good bit (for example given as gifts to the Ras' and Emperor) and he has a great illustration of a warrior on horseback, which online is copyrighted, so can't show it here sorry. Salt says all the horses he saw, plenty of them, were well conformed and in very good condition.

The African Dispersal in the Deccan, From Medieval to Modern Times Shanti Sadiq Ali. Published 1996. Almost impossible to get but sometimes available as an e-book. Brilliant book, discusses the Abyssinian, Somali and Indian connections of horses, people and cavalry training. 

King of Kings, the Triumph and Tragedy of Haile Selassi I of Ethiopia, by Prince Dr. Asfa-Wossen Asserate. By a man who saw the deep love Selassie had for his people; and witnessed the decline and fall of his reign, published 2015. Great read. 

Prevail:The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia's Victory over Mussolini's Invasion. Jeff Pearce
Skyhorse publishing, 2014. Great book - a real page turner. 

The Eccentric Mr Wienholt. Rosamon Siemen. Published Uni of Qld 2005. Really worth buying, great book.

Magdala - The Story of the Abysinnian Campaign 1866-7. Henry M. Stanley... great rollicking read! 

Wienholt also wrote books - his Story of a Lion Hunt has military stories too.

The Pale Abyssinian, Miles Bredin, published 2001, Flamingo. Incredible story of a Scot named James Bruce - 6 feet 4 inches high with red hair - much like Capt. Speedy! but a different character altogether, able to negotiate intense court intrigue. He went to Abyssinia in the 1700's and lived at court when it was at Gondar. He was in charge of the Emperor's Horse Guard. He was there over a decade looking for the Ark, the source of the Blue Nile, and falling in love with a Princess.

A Victorian Gentleman and Ethiopian Nationalist; The Life and Times of Hakim Wärqenäh, Dr Charles Martin (book) by Peter Garretson, 2012.

Top article about the close relationship with Russia, Ukraine and Ethiopia. Some good photos. Absolutely fascinating.

This source has good old filmclips on Ethiopia - some with horses. Not all are free to watch, but some are.

Great run down of the East African and Abyssinian campaigns

Mission 101, top book.

With The Armies Of Menelik II by Alexander Bulatovic. Translation from Russian of a good book, this version is text. Origional has photographs. Published in 1900. Lots of mentions of horses, insight into Ethiopian horse lore and war.

Another great website with stories of Ethiopians, Russians including Nikolay Leontiev, Ukraine, and finding Ethiopians relatives such as Haile Selassi's grandaughter in the modern era.

British Pathe film of Abyssinian warriors in 1936, not good quality, loads of horses

British Pathe film 1935 - preparing for war against the Italians - includes great cavalry training clip

Australian SOE (Special Operations Executive) had its genesis in Mission 101, called Gideon Force by Wingate. Australia's involvement.

short film in 1941, horses, camels, Ethiopian army, Selassie
Scientific article on the discovery of a tomb especially for an aged horse, in the Nile Valley. 

 This proves how important horses were to the area over 3,000 years ago. The remains of the buried horse, a chestnut in fancy trappings, were found at Tombos, near Dongola, Sudan. The Nile connects Sudan to Ethiopia.

Photographer Raymond Depardon took some great photos in Ethiopia, including Haile Selassi and Queen Elizabeth in his coac
h. Copyrighted so can't use here but you can find them on the net.

A book on the horses of Ethiopia would be heaven.

Anything good on Ethiopia gives a far better history than the potted version here, which is just concerned with horses; a little background added to fill in the reasons they were there. Also my interpretation of facts is an amateur's guide. Apologies for any errors.

You can help the horses

The Brook Hospital for horses, donkey and mules operates in Ethiopia - donations needed.

SPANA - top charity providing vets for horses in Ethiopia - every little bit helps enormously.

News reports

South Australian Register, 21st January 1868

[From the Argus]
The requirements of the expedition to Abyssinia have reopened the Indian market for our horses. Shipments are being forwarded, and some have already arrived and been disposed of in Bombay. Such opportunities from time to time recur. Not long since a similar demand was produced by the number of fortunes which were suddenly made in Bombay through the cotton export from that quarter. Horses both for the saddle and for equipages were in extraordinary requisition, and if at all tolerable fetched high prices...
West Gippsland Gazette, 14th July, 1903. 


Mr Bennett Burleigh, who is with the British force warring against the Mullah in Somaliland, tells some stories of the campaign in the "Daily Telegraph."One story refers to Lieutenant Scott, of the burgher corps a born Boer, who expressed satisfaction at the King's kind reference to the Transvaal and Orange burghers now serving under the British flag. Lieutenant Scott, who is a well-known Bloemfontein farmer, and carries the honourable wounds he received when fighting for the Boers, said:-"It is the first word of recognition and kindness we have had from any quarter since we left South Africa. The King is a great man, greater than his surroundings, officials and generals."

DISCOVERED HIMSELF LOST! The other story concerns the adventure of Mr Tim Murphy, of the burgher contingent, who, notwithstanding his Hibernian name, is also a Boer. Murphy, who got behind the column, discovered he was alone upon the bound less plain, which is as without marked feature as the sea. He suddenly came upon a number of natives, and he had little doubt that the Mullah's men had him in a tight place. , But the natives seemed not unfriendly. So Murphy shook hands with one. As Murphy says: "They invited me to follow them, and, having no alternative, I did so, but going warily. We got to a great cave, into which they asked me to descend. I found it was a great big place, and full of people, some 40 or 50 women and children and half a score of men. "I asked them to put down their spears and bows, showing them what I meant, and I was glad that they complied. FALLEN AMONG FRIENDS. "Then, to further test their intentions, I begged for some water, though my bottle was not empty. It was at once brought to me, in a sort of bowl, and I had a good drink. That was the first thing that partly assured me that I was among friends. I know now that they were the outcast tribe, the Midgans. "A little later they brought me plenty of food, a heaped dish of sweet wild figs, of which I ate ravenously, followed by roast deer and mutton." Three of the poor outcast fugitive Midgans escorted Murphy back to Bad wein Wells. The faithful Midgans have each been rewarded for their service, and as much anxiety had been wasted, and several men and horses unduly exercised because of the escapade of Mr Murphy, he was fined L5 for his adventure.
Daily Standard, 7th November 1935
Italian Objective is Caravan Junction

THIS MILITARISM !—A "flame-thrower" at work during a display by Italian troops equipped with apparatus capable of inflicting all the known horrors of war.
Makalle is Centre of Sea of Mud
"Saints stronger than Mussolini"
Asmara (Eritrea), Wednesday.
Italian First Army Corps captured Agula and also occupies the adjacent village of Endamariamdaha. The second corps has consolidated its mountain position, completing the occupation of Abi Addi, 20 miles east of Makalle, preparatory to the main advance to Makalle at dawn.
No organised opposition is expected to meet this second stage of Italy's Big Push, despite rumors of Abyssinian manning of "pill-box" defences hastily erected under the guidance of Colonel Kornavaloff, Ras Seyoum's Russian military adviser.
The Government spokesman at Addis Ababa however, declares that the Northern Army commanders are strictly obeying Selassie's orders to retire slowly, luring the enemy on.
London, Wednesday.
THE recent Italian advance on a 100 miles front is to be resumed.Participants in the attack will be the First Corps of the Blackshirt Division and a native corps; the objectives of the First Corps are the Tigrean Dolo and Quika, seven miles east of Makalje; thereby controlling the junction of caravan routes to the south from Makalle, which at present is the centre of a sea of mud, stalling the midget tanks, which are unable to cross the 10-foot torrents.
These are expected soon to dry, and the occupation of Makalle will give the invaders possession of one-eighth of Abyssinia, namely 19,000 square miles. The native corps marches southwards from Dera, down the Gerah Valley, through difficult country. 
The "Daily Telegraph's'' Addis Ababa correspondent says that Haile Selassie will take Father Gabreab to Dessie as his personal confessor, and also the two famous Arks of the Covenant and one of St. George, reputed to be organiser of victory at Adowa in 1896, and the other, of St. Gabriel, who gave Selassie victory against Ras Michal, the father of the rebel, Lij Eyassu in 1916.

Religious Hermits Create Comedy
The Rome representative of the "Times" telegraphs that General Biroll's native troops encountered in the Sallo Valley, due north of Makalle, a remarkable collection of Coptic churches, some of architectural merit, excavated from the hard rock.
The resident priests received the troops with a full liturgical ceremony, c
arrying crosses and many colored umbrellas. What detracted from the dignity of the occasion was the wearing of women's garments propitiatorily given them by the troops. The Sight of about 100 venerable, black-bearded hermits, draped in gaudy petticoats and gay bodices, and solemnly chanting psalms, sent the soldiers into shrieks of laughter. 
Haile Selassie has promoted the Mohammedan general, Omar Samater,the leader of the Abyssinians in the fierce conflict at Scillave, in which he killed several Italians, his force sustaining 40 casualties. Samater deserted from the Italian army in Somaliland after killing an officer, and formed his own Somali army.
A Roma message says, that Italian cavalry are advancing near Mount Moussa Ali in order to make contact with General Lorenilnl's Danakll column.


Sunday Mail, 26th February 1939
... But his proudest achievement, was the saddle that left Australia addressed to Djibouti. It was for Haile Selassie, Emperor of Abyssinia. It was a plain riding-saddle, and was made on behalf of Mr. Arnold Wienholt, well-known Queenslander, who went to Abyssinia during the war with Italy. The maker did not know until it was finished that it was destined for the Emperor. Another saddle was made for one of the Emperor's leading generals. ...
Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) 19th May 1939
Fulfilling his ambition to see the country that produced the doughty light-horsemen, alongside whom he served in Palestine in 1917, Brigadier Byed Ahmed El-Edroos is on his first visit to Australia, states an exchange.
This Arabian - tall, dark, and wiry - commands the Lancers Brigade in the Nizam of Hyderabad's army, is interested in cricket, and enthusiastically plays polo.
Educated Indians were following cable reports on the European crises with close interest, he said. They were anxious for Britain to avoid war, but would be ready and willing to serve the Empire in India or over-seas.
A picturesque band in his brigade of eight cavalry units is the Nizam's bodyguard of 150 Abyssinian horsemen. Because they can no longer be recruited, another 10 years may see the end of this old custom of an Abyssinian bodyguard, which originally arose with their reputation for courage and fidelity.
His brigade of 2700 is mounted almost exclusively on Australian horses,requiring 250 remounts annually. These will soon be displaced, probably by light tanks, with the advance of mechanisation. 
At landed cost in Hyderabad, Australian horses (at about £65 to £70)were cheaper than the Indian breed, he explained, and were better weight carriers. During his three months leave here he intends to visit stations where his remounts have been bred.
Brigadier El-Edroos was born near Aden, but was educated in a British school in India, and has not revisited his birthplace for 22 years. His father also served the Nizam of Hyderabad, rising to command of an infantry battalion.

The Courier Mail, 25th January 1941
Captain Arnold Wienholt Missing In Abyssinia.
Captain Arnold Wienholt, former member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, big game hunter and friend of Haile Selassie, is reported missing in Abyssinia since September last, and is presumed to have died of wounds. For seven months before Italy came into the war against Britain, Captain Wienholt waited at Aden, perfecting his knowledge of the Amharic (Abyssinian) language, and preparing himself for war between Italy and Britain and a chance to drive the Italians out of Abyssinia. As soon as Italy's decision to fight Britain was announced, he flew with his personal servant - a young Abyssinian, son of a native General - to Khartoum, where he accepted a commission in the British Army. 'I am still hopeful that everything will turn out all right,' said Mrs.Wienholt, who is in Sydney, last night. Mrs. Wienholt is a daughter of Mrs.J. T. Bell, and a step-daughter of the late Mr. J. T. Bell, who held many portfolios in different Queensland Governments, and who was Speaker of the Legislative Assembly when he died in March, 1911. Page 4. — Arresting Queensland Personality.
Recorder, 10th March 1941
Advance Into Abyssinia
London, Sunday.—British forces are sweeping into Abyssinia at the rate of 100 miles daily. The presence of British forces is expected to produce a wide spread revolt throughout Eastern Abyssinia, where the tribesmen have long been, awaiting an opportunity to strike against their oppressors.
The Italians are retreating fast, but the South African Air Force is harrying them without respite.
The British forces are on, a good metalled road leading to Harar. They are meeting no opposition.
The whole of Italian Somaliland has been swept clear of organised resistance and the Italians have left 21,000 dead or prisoners.
Abyssinian patriots are advancing from Burye toward Addis Ababa by forced marches. They are led by an Australian lieutenant. The Italian retreat is strewn with wrecked lorries. The ditches are chockful of the bodies of men and horses, food, and equipment.


The Argus, 1st April 1947

Haile Selassie Buying 180 Horses From Australia
Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, has placed an order through the Commonwealth Government for 180 chargers to mount the Imperial bodyguard at Addis Ababa, his Abyssinian capital.
The Commerce Department said yesterday that extensive inquiries were being made before calling tenders for the horses, horse-boxes, saddles, and other equipment, as well as making arrangements for an experienced horse master, with a party of grooms, to accompany the chargers to Jibouti, in French Somaliland, port of entry to Abyssinia.
The Emperor's preference for Australian horses was stated to be influenced by the fact that large numbers of remounts imported into India for military and ceremonial purposes were from Australia.
Negotiations for the purchase were opened with the Australian Legation in Paris during the UN conference last October.
The horses sought are 60 blacks, 60 greys, and 60 bays, about four years, and 63in high. A Court official at Addis Ababa described the bodyguard as consisting of "tall men, but not very heavy."
Commerce Department officials estimated that it would take three months to buy and break in the horses and complete arrangements for their shipment, including the veterinary and other inspections.


Warwick Daily News (Qld), 14th April 1948

Emperor's Buyer To Visit Downs Studs 
BRISBANE: Quietly spoken, debonair Captain Kosrof Boghossian, master of the horse to the Emperor of Ethiopia (Haile Selassie), arrived in Brisbane yesterday. He is to inspect cavalry type horses suitable for the Imperial bodyguard at Addis Ababa, and for breeding stock. Claiming to be the first representative of the Lion of Judah to visit Australia, Captain Boghossian is here on the first stage of his mission. Before leaving to see Darling Downs studs, Captain Boghossian said he was seeking what was known here as the waler type of horse. If cavalry horses and thoroughbreds of the types he wanted were available, small trial purchases would probably be made to determine their adaptability toEthiopia. This might lead to larger, purchases later."Ethiopia's war with Italy in 1936 
drained our country of large numbers of horses," he continued. "In fighting guerrilla actions we relied on horses for mobility, and the 
invaders' concentrated on destroying them."

Sun, Sunday 23rd May, 1948

These gentlemen prefer — a horse
Australian horses are far more beautiful and interesting than Australian women, says Ethiopian captain, Kosrof Bognossian. Captain Bognossian is "Master of the Horse to HIM Emperor of Ethiopia." He left Sydney by air yesterday. "I know this country is noted for its beautiful women, but I found Australian horses far more beautiful and interesting," he said. Captain Bognossian spent seven weeks in Australia buying horses for Emperor Haile Selassie's cavalry bodyguard. He is shipping to Ethiopia 100 young horses bought for £20,000. Among them are 10 thoroughbred racehorses and 10 mares. Captain Bognossian said the Emperor insists on having 300 horses in his cavalry bodyguard.
National Advocate, 30th September, 1948

HORSES FOR ABYSSINIA SYDNEY, Wednesday. The 1000 Australian horses ordered by the Emperor of Abyssinia have now been obtained from SA, NSW and Queensland. 


News (Adelaide), 8th December 1948. 
HORSES SHIPPED FOR ETHIOPIA Twenty-nine horses and 15 ponies will be loaded in the Querimba: at Fort Adelaide this afternoon for shipment to Emperor Haile Selassie, of Ethiopia. They are the first of 100 horses to be loaded. Others will go aboard Friday morning. The ship is expected to sail in the afternoon.

The West Australian, 11th January 1949.

A thousand Australian horses have been bought for the Emperor of Abyssinia (Haile Selassie), and the first shipment of 110 of them is aboard the steamer Abbekerk, which reached Fremantle from the Eastern States yesterday.
Travelling aboard the ship is Mr. I. Hall, a partner in the firm of Hall and Skene, which has been acting on behalf of the Emperor. He said that the horses aboard the ship included two stallions and ten brood mares, eight pairs of grey carriage horses and three pairs of blacks, and the rest cavalry horses. Many high-class strains in Australia were represented. The Emperor bought horses in Australia periodically before the war, Mr. Hall said, but these would be the first horses imported since 1939 for his stables, which usually carried about 1,000. Mr. Hall has been engaged in the export of Australian horses since 1913. His partner, Mr. Curtis Skene, is better known as one of Australia's outstanding polo players. Three men engaged by Mr. Hall to care for the horses on the voyage include Alan Cook, who has for some time been a leading rough-rider in Australia. He is now going to be an equerry to the Emperor. The ship is to make a special call at Djibouti to land the horses. The rest of the 1,000 will be shipped as soon as space can be found for them.

The West Australian, 27th March, 1948
ABYSSINIA SEEKS OUR HORSES SYDNEY, March 26: The purchase of 200 Australian bay and chestnut mares and stallions as stud stock for the cavalry of Abyssinia is the special mission of Major Kosrof Boghossian, who reached Sydney by air from Addis Ababa tonight. He is anxious to obtain the best breeding horses possible for the cavalry, which is a crack unit. Major Boghossian brought greetings from Emperor Haile Selassie to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chiflley). He said that the Emperor, knowing the reputation of Australian remounts had sent him here to make purchases. Abyssinian horse stocks had been depleted during the Italian occupation some years ago.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 30th August 1948.

Royal Post For Australian In Abyssinia
TAMWORTH, Sunday. A Tamworth veterinary surgeon, Mr. F. R. Coughin, will leave Australia soon to become veterinary surgeon to the Royal Stables of Haile Selassie at Addis Ababa. It is expected that the salary will be the equivalent of £A.5,000 a year. He will also act as Australian Trade Representative while in Abyssinia. Mr. Coughlin was appointed after Captain K. Boghossian, Master of Horse in the Imperial Ethiopian Government, made representations to the Federal Government. He expects to leave by the Stratheden next Saturday.
The Argus, 4th January 1949
The Age, 6th January 1949


time for another coffee? In Australia you can order excellent Ethiopian coffee from Aroma - including it as a free 'ad' because Aroma bought and pays the keep of a horse in Ethiopia, needed to take children to school, good for them! ... and that's the oldest coffee cup in the world. Ethiopian.

© Janet Lane 2015. Very happy for anyone to use the information from the blog, to share, just don't copy slabs of my work and say it's yours. Thanks for your courtesy and honesty. The images are not mine so please check it's ok yourself. I have not used any that are copyrighted to the best of my knowledge; there are oodles of top images that sadly are copyrighted I can't use here. And thanks for dropping by! 

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Marion Ellis said...

What a fascinating article.
Was enchanted and deeply informed.
Grateful thanks
Marion Ellis/ Cape Town

Apricot said...

Thank you so much Marion, glad you enjoyed it. Was fun researching. Janet