And He Led His Two White Percheron Horses across the Battlefields of Europe in WW1

In his younger days … a larrikin son of Ireland, Scotland and Sussex, a Bogga boy … sometime shearer, horse breaker, boxer, grazier, community leader, and a nephew of one of Australia’s greatest jockeys..

But on the battlefields of WWI Cyril’s bravery could be counted on … he would be recognised in despatches by the great Sir Douglas Haig. He went on to play rugby league for the Australian services in England before repatriation to Australia in 1919… but what the official service record doesn’t say, is how, after he departed Gallipoli, that he led his two White Percheron horses across Europe … the Western Front and all .. as they pulled a wagon full of ammunition through many of the major battles of WWI. They say so many men were killed in WWI, but it is hard to conceive, as some claim, that 10 million horses were also part of the bloody slaughter. One of his granddaughters, Julie, has shared …

“After the war ended Cyril was given leave to take the horses into Belgium to repatriate them into farm life. I gather that this was not the usual practice, however I’m sure those horses deserved a much better life for their loyalty and service.”

He was a grandfather I never knew, but my story-telling Barden relatives seek to fill the gaps as I wonder  … a hard, larger than life man … loyal to his siblings … a charmer too they say

Cyril’s brothers – Percival and Leonard had also served in WWI (others from  Boggabilla who enlisted in WWI). Leonard was only 18, and required his father’s permission to enlist to be sent overseas in 1916. Interestingly Percival refers to his father’s address as “Banka Banka” Warwick, and “Wonga” Boggabilla had been crossed out on his paperwork for return to Australia in 1918-1919. The two older sons, William Thomas and Charles Patrick, did not enlist. The three  younger sons enlisted as privates, and all were wounded. There seems to have been a lot of telegrams received by Charles William Barden about his sons’ injuries, however the three survived to return to Australia. Cyril Bernard Barden’s war service is detailed below, including injuries and Absence Without Leave on quite a few occasions! Connie Mather has written in Mundia :

Cyril Bernard Barden joined the Australian Army during World War 1 on 4th June, 1915 as a private with the 1st Battalion, 7th Reinforcement. His occupation before joining up was a horsebreaker at Boggabilla, New South Wales. His regimental number was 2428 and his father, Charles William Barden of Boggabilla, New South Wales, was named as his next of kin. He embarked for overseas service on 14th July, 1915 on board HMAT A67 ;Orsova; and by the end of the war he had risen in rank of Lance Corporal with the 1st Battallion. He returned to Australia on 31st May, 1919. Cyril was mentioned in despatches and was awarded and promulgated in London Gazette No. 31448, on 11th July, 1919; Commonwealth Gazette; No. 124 on 30th October, 1919. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Cyril Barden later became a grazier of sheep and bullocks, owner of “Wonga” outside Boggabilla, and was a supporter of horse racing in Goondiwindi. The Barden’s were described as one of best known racing families in Australia in 1938, and it seems Cyril had a winning horse known as Lough Allen in 1938. However their involvement in horse racing dated back decades earlier.

Cyril Barden’s father, Charles William Barden, had been a sheep station manager, business manager and a grazier at Boggabilla. Charles William Barden was the son of William Barden and his wife Anne Tullock (her family would later achieve fame as  the Tulloch Wines family). William’s family had emigrated to Australia as Bounty Emigrants in the 1830′s – his parents were Charles Barden and wife Harriett nee Easton.


About Kerrie Anne Christian

Interests - Travel, Photography, Developing Websites, Social Media, Writing, Local History, Researcher, Genealogy
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