Inspired by the story of a long-forgotten war horse, Carl Valerius set about sculpting a life-size tribute.
The Riverina man shared the passion behind his project, ahead of the next stage of its design, with the patina-coated horse and five soldiers, to be set in bronze before next year.
It is the same kind of project Wagga historians and Light Horse enthusiasts are hoping to recreate in the Victory Memorial Gardens.
Murrumburrah’s Bill the Bastard sculpture has attracted national acclaim, since its grand unveiling in 2016, and it was recently dubbed a statue of national significance.
Aptly named due to his infamous obstinacy, Bill had weighed more than 730 kilograms and stood about 17 hands in height.
The re-imagined scene reflects the historically significant Battle of Romani, fought in Egypt on August 4, 1916.
It was here Bill and his rider – Major Michael Shanahan – saved four Tasmanian soldiers from certain doom.
The conflict became a crucial allied victory in the Middle East campaign.
Through the roar of a raging battle and the carnage of a breach in allied lines, the stubborn, steadfast and sturdy stallion carried his rider and the four troopers to safety.
“My wife and I did (the stone sculpture) ourselves,” Mr Valerius said.
“We had the help of a local vet to get the anatomy and the Light Horse Troop helped us with the soldiers uniforms and equipment.”
The task of designing, carving the sculpture from polystyrene blocks and covering it with patina was no easy feat for the Riverina stonemason.
But the time and financial expense meant little to Mr Valerius, who said the story of “Australia’s greatest war horse” had spurred his inspiration.
He said the Battle of Romani was one of many awe-inspiring stories involving Bill.
As the Riverina man shared some of these true tales and historic recounts, the pride in his voice brought them to life.
“Everyone has heard about John Simpson and his donkey,” Mr Valerius said.
“I’m not saying anything against that story, but Bill was the horse that carried Simpson back behind the lines when he died.”
Bronze, Bill the Bastard Limited was incorporated as a company last year, with a board of directors elected to oversee the bronzing of the life-size statue. Thanks to the grant money, fundraisers and donations, the bronzing process could begin.
The fresh, golden-coated sculpture is set to be placed in the Light Horse Memorial, ahead the planned Centenary of ANZAC commemoration in November this year.