They were humble men and they came from an era of hardship and horsemanship.- Dave Tyson
They were known for their horsemanship, their mateship and their bravery.
They were a tough breed, the soldiers of Australia's Light Horse, strong and independent, the likes of whom will never be seen again, Dave Tyson believes.
While Warrnambool will honour the Light Horse with Sunday's running of the Jericho Cup, Mr Tyson pays homage to them on a daily basis. His appreciation for the soldiers he describes as "iconically Australian" is such that entire rooms of his home are devoted to their memory.
An original tunic belonging to Beersheba 'charger' Lieutenant William Cruickshank, iconic slouch hats complete with emu plumes, photos, letters, personal items and keepsakes as well as props from the 1987 Australian war movie, The Lighthorsemen, are among the 300 items that comprise his Australian Light Horse Heritage Collection.
Amassed over several decades, the collection is housed across two rooms and a hallway of the Dunkeld home shared by Mr Tyson and his wife Leonie.
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A career paramedic, he knew little of Australia's military history until he began meeting World War I Diggers among his patients in Melbourne during the 1970s.
"I used to talk to them and try and cheer them up," he recalled. "There was one old chap I asked what he did in the war and he started reliving a wild dash on horseback, jumping over enemy trenches."
Intrigued, Mr Tyson arranged to visit the old soldier in his home and learn more of his stories. "I went back and interviewed him. I took a packet of biscuits and a tape recorder and that was it. I was bitten by the bug."
Mr Tyson has dedicated the collection to the 4th Light Horse Regiment AIF which was based in the Western District.
"They were humble men and they came from an era of hardship and horsemanship, the like of which we won't see again," he said.
Many items were donated by local descendants, others were bequeathed by Mr Tyson's friend and film producer Ian Jones.
An avid collector and historian, Jones' contributions included the original tunic of the Beersheba charger, and memorabilia from The Lighthorsemen movie.
Hamilton resident Tom Trimnell was happy to donate some of the many photos captured in the desert sands of the Palestine campaign where his father, Arthur Randolph Trimnell served in the 4th Light Horse, including at the Beersheba charge.
"My father was a fairly quiet sort of chap and I couldn't imagine him jumping on a Waler and leaping over trenches in the desert. But it was something he never spoke about." Mr Trimnell walked in his father's footsteps, attending the 100th anniversary of the Beersheba Charge in 2017.
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