‘Midnight: the Story of a Light Horse’ is the true story of Guy Haydon, a 25-year-old stockman, from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, and his beloved black mare, Midnight. They formed part of the Australian Light Horse Brigade which led the last great cavalry charges in history at Beersheba in the Middle East on 31 October 1917.
Initially Guy and Midnight are separated when Guy is sent to fight at Gallipoli while the horses stay behind. Later they reunite and wait at the outskirts of the ancient city of Beersheba. The enemy is entrenched there, safeguarding their water, ‘more precious than gold’. A ferocious battle takes place. Guy and Midnight are among the first to soar over the enemy trenches, but a bullet passes through Midnight then lodges in Guy’s spine. Guy survives.
Mark Greenwood is an author who devotes time and energy to ensure both history and story engage the reader and viewer. He explains: ‘Frané and I travelled to Beersheba in Israel and visited the places where Guy and Midnight camped in the days leading up to the famous cavalry charge. For me, going to the setting I’m writing about is one of the crucial stages in bringing history to life.’ (Candlewick Press Classroom Ideas) Greenwood uses short, staccato-styled sentences that reflect the quick pace of the story. Frané Lessac’s naïve art style captures the pace of the story with its moments of calm as Moonlight’s early life is enjoyed with Guy, followed by detailed scenes leading up to and including war. Lessac’s double page artwork highlights both time and place for viewers to study, offering historic details of ships embarking, sands of Sinai, the Gallipoli landscape and the ultimate battle—the charge at Beersheba.
Included in the back matter are the ‘Author’s note’ with photographs of Guy Haydon and Midnight along with a map entitled the Capture of Beersheba. Brief historic details reveal that there were 800 riders and horses that charged at Beersheba where 3,000 Turkish soldiers lay in wait in protected trenches. A bibliography of sources and archives used is included.