This short series told over nine episodes tells of the adventures of a small troop of Australian Light Horse in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). Their main duties were to penetrate behind the Turkish lines and discover information on Turkish troops and movements. They later become involved in fighting the ghostly apparition of Abargi, an ancient Arab Mesopotamian King. The ghostly 'King' is inciting the Arabs to join forces with the Turks and the Germans against the British and other Allied forces. In fact it’s a dastardly German plot to stir up trouble in the region. There is no ghost it’s a (it has to be said weak and uninspiring), German Captain Huth portraying King Abargi. Several characters share centre stage, although Trooper (later Sergeant) Harry Garrett is in the spotlight for the entire story.
The characterisations of the troopers are simple, Garrett is the honest, fair dinkum type of bloke, Bluey Jones, a troublemaker and Billy Tuesday a wily and dependable Aborigine. Interestingly, Billy gets a good slice of the action and isn’t part of the story just to make up the numbers, he’s treated as one of the blokes. (Between 400 and 500 Aborigines served with Australian forces during World War One). This isn’t always the case in comics, as some native characters were made out to be stupid or just there to make the white man look good. So hats off to the writer. The characters exhibit characteristics of Australian soldiers, in that they refuse to leave a mate behind, are fierce fighters and that they will do their job regardless of any authority figures (British naturally!), who try to stop them.
The artist Harry Farrugia, (a Maltese artist), does a splendid job of the artwork. As the story takes place in the wide and open desert of Mesopotamia the backgrounds are sparse as you would expect in a desert. The artwork is all the more striking when you realise that the Aussies uniform is historically accurate. Incidentally, the plumes on their hats are emu feathers.‘This plume became the symbol of the light horse, inseparable from its legend. Appreciating a practical joke, when asked about their plumes, [the] light horsemen pulled many legs by replying that they were, in fact, "kangaroo feathers", placing the plume in the same vein as bunyip farms, walking-stick farms, and treacle mines.' (www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia). The Australian Light Horse did see service in Mesopotamia. Compare the photograph below of members of the Australian Light Horse with ‘The Victor’ artwork (also below) on the strip to see how accurate the artist was. Visit the Australian Light Horse Association.
Was King Abargi real? Ur was an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia, located near the mouth (at the time) of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers on the Persian Gulf and close to Eridu. It is considered to be one of the earliest known civilizations in world history. Harry Garrett and his men finally corner Huth in his disguise as the ghost of King Abargi on top of a Ziggurat - ("to build on a raised area") a temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley and Iran, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories or levels. Some modern buildings with a stepped pyramid shape have also been termed ziggurats.’ (Wikipedia).
‘Ur was excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley 1922-1934: One of his famous finds was the royal cemetery with the grave of King Abargi, who was buried with 74 of his court staff and many gold, silver and lapus lazuli artifacts including harps, carts with draft bulls and other objects. Agatha Christie's novel, Murder in Mesopotamia, was inspired by the discovery of the royal tombs. Christie later married Woolley's young assistant, Max Mallowan.’ (Information from cvsanten). The map below of Mesopotamia (present today Iraq) shows the locations of the River Tigris and the ancient city of Ur. ( Map from Fairfield Faculty).