Memorial to Bess the horse

The students examine an image of a memorial that commemorates the contribution made by New Zealand horses to the First World War.

Memorial to Bess the horse, by Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean, 1986.(external link)

Memorial to Bess the horse, by Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean, 1986.


More than 10,000 horses were sent from New Zealand to the First World War, travelling by sea to German Samoa, Gallipoli, the Middle East, and the Western Front. They were used for transporting supplies, equipment, and the injured, for carrying troops on patrol, and for heading into battle.

Only four horses came back to New Zealand after the war, and this memorial marks the spot where Bess, one of these four horses, is buried. Bess served with C. G. Powles (a captain, major, and colonel in the war) in Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, and France and returned with him in 1920. She died in 1934. This memorial is near the town of Bulls.

Key questions

  • What can we observe?
  • What do we already know?
  • How might people view this memorial in different ways?

Possible discussion questions:

  • What do you notice about this memorial?
  • Why do you think this memorial was built?
  • Why do you think it is important to remember the horses that served in the First World War?
  • What do you know about horses? What are they used for today?
  • What other animals do you know about that are remembered now for their roles during the First World War?
  • What are some other ways that we remember the animals that have been important to us?
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