Sunday, 3 June 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered..





War Horses


My husband's grandfather ran away to war when he was just 16. Sam initially worked as a stable lad with the 17th Lancers, particularly looking after the General’s horse, and he eventually joined up officially with the Royal Fusiliers, with whom he served at the Battles of the Somme and Third Ypres.


17th Lancers
Brass Spurs
©J.D.Barton

The 17th Lancers was a cavalry regiment of the British Army, raised in 1759 and notable for its participation in the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. At the start of WW1 they were based in India but returned in order to fulfill their cavalry role. The 17th Lancers were particularly active at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917.

Their motto : Death or Glory

During the course of WW1 the army deployed well over a million horses and mules and such was the demand that over 1000 horses a week were shipped from North America.

By 1918 there were:

220,000 supply horses
219,000 supply mules
111,000 horses used for riding
87,000 gun horses
75,000 cavalry horses


Battle of Pilckem Ridge. British troops loading a pack horse with wiring staples. Note the horse's gas-mask. Near Pilckem, 31 July 1917
© IWM (Q 5717)

The army had need of many veterinary surgeons and there were over 1,300 officers employed across the whole of the army, with over 27,000 men serving in the Army Veterinary Corps, who supported the medical treatment of horses.

The British Army Veterinary Corp hospitals in France received over 725,000 horses and successfully treated three-quarters of them. A typical horse hospital could treat 2,000 animals at any one time.

However, many horses died as a result of being exposed to the elements, hunger or illness.


British troops scraping mud from a mule near Bernafay Wood on the Western Front, November 1916. British military authorities tried to ensure that handlers cared for their animals properly.
© IWM (Q 1619)



On the 11 June 2018 an official memorial to the War Horse will be unveiled in Ascot. The memorial, created by the British Sculptor Susan Leyland, will be a larger than life bronze horse standing on a plinth of Portland stone.

A purple poppy day will be held on the 23rd August each year to raise funds for the following charities:

Household Cavalry Foundation
Mane Chance Sanctuary

Twitter @supportwarhorse

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