Horses in Warfare

The concept of Special Forces Horses focuses on the bond and language between horse and human.  The soldier and the horse have been inextricably tied through the ages so we thought it might be interesting to take a look at ten of the most famous warhorses in the  posts following this.

The first evidence of the use of horses during warfare dates from Eurasia between to 4,000-3,000 BC—that is, more than 5,000 years ago. Since that time, the usage of horses in war increased as tactics and technologies improved, such as the invention of saddles, stirrups, and yokes.

In the history of war, many horses have become famous thanks to their great owners or military units. Horses witnessed and participated in many battles, carrying their owners to their successes or failures.

WW1 War Horse Facts

Eight million horses, donkeys and mules died in World War I, three-quarters of them from the extreme conditions they worked in.

Many horses were initially used as traditional cavalry horses but their vulnerability to modern machine gun and artillery fire meant their role changed to transporting troops and ammunition. Because military vehicles were relatively new inventions and prone to problems, horses, and mules were more reliable – and cheaper – forms of transport.

Thousands of horses pulled field guns; six to 12 horses were required to pull each gun.

World-War-I-horse-drawn-artillery
During the Cambrai attack in 1918, a six-horse team pulls a Royal Artillery limber and gun while two mounted troopers lead the way. (Photo by David McLellan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
It could take up to 12 hours to clean the horses and their harnesses in muddy conditions.

Numbers

  • At the start of the war, the British Army had 25,000 horses.
  • Another 115,000 were purchased compulsorily under the Horse Mobilisation Scheme.
  • Over the course of the war, between 500 and 1000 horses were shipped to Europe every day.

Welfare

  • Vets treated 2.5 million horses; two million recovered and returned to the battlefield.
  • The British Army Veterinary Corp hospitals in France cared for 725,000 horses and successfully treated three-quarters of them. A typical horse hospital could treat 2,000 animals at any one time
  • Thoroughbred horses were more likely to suffer from shell shock and be affected by the sights and sounds of battle than their working compatriots, who could be taught to lie down and take cover at the sound of artillery fire.
  • One-quarter of all deaths were due to gunfire and gas; exhaustion and disease claimed the rest.
  • Horse fodder was the single largest commodity shipped to the front by some countries, including Britain:
  • The manufacturers of Quaker Oats put in a bid to supply army horses with cakes baked from compressed oats and molasses, but this proposal was dismissed as too extravagant.

Losses

  • Fearing their horses would face terrible and terrifying conditions at war, some owners took the drastic measure of humanely putting their animals down before the army could seize them.
  • In a single day during the Battle of Verdun in 1916, 7,000 horses were killed by long-range shelling on both sides, including 97 killed by single shots from a French naval gun.
  • Losses were particularly heavy among Clydesdale horses, which were used to haul guns.
  • Britain lost over 484,000 horses – one horse for every two men.
  • Horses were considered so valuable that if a soldier’s horse was killed or died he was required to cut off a hoof and bring it back to his commanding officer to prove that the two had not simply become separated
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Members of the Royal Scots Greys cavalry regiment rest their horses by the side of the road in France (from Ernest Harold Baynes’ Animal Heroes of the Great War, Ministry of Information, London. National Library of Scotland)

Original article: https://www.thebrooke.org/get-involved

WW1 Gas Masks On British Soldier

Since horses were frequently used on the front lines, a special type of gas mask was developed that horses were trained to wear. The first use of poison gas on the Western Front was on April 22, 1915, by the Germans at Ypres, against Canadian and French colonial troops.

wwi-gas-masks-on-british-soldier-science-sourceThe British Royal Society of Chemistry claims that British scientist Edward Harrison developed the first practical gas mask for mass production towards the end of 1916. American chemist and inventor James Bert Garner is credited by American sources with the invention of the gas mask in April 1915. He remembered experiments he had performed while teaching at the University of Chicago, thus he set about creating the first gas mask which he tested on two of his associates in a gas filled chamber. Following the successful completion of the test, he provided the results to the British government.

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Image from https://thewarhorsememorial.org/news/versailles/

War Horse Memorial

The War Horse Memorial is the first national memorial dedicated to the millions of UK, Commonwealth and Allied horses, mules and donkeys lost during The Great War. It pays tribute to the nobility, courage, unyielding loyalty and immeasurable contribution these animals played in giving us the freedom of democracy we all enjoy today, and signifies the last time the horse would be used on a mass scale in modern warfare.

The War Horse Memorial consists of a larger than life bronze horse standing on a 3m high stone plinth created by the British sculptor Susan Leyland. In essence it is much more than a memorial, as it affords the opportunity to create and expand on on-going fundraising initiatives, and become a lasting legacy for the nation.

whm-maquette

The War Horse Memorial is located on the major Ascot roundabout opposite Heatherwood Hospital and Car Park 1 of Ascot Racecourse. Postcode: SL5 8AA.

War Horse Maquette

Screenshot 2020-03-10 at 21.38.15

These beautiful maquettes, which are cast in the Black Isle Bronze Foundry in Nairn, in Scotland are hand finished by the sculptor Susan Leyland.

The limited edition War Horse maquette – a scaled replica of Poppy, the national monument dedicated to animals of war. Each maquette weighs 21.5 kilos and the height including base is 58 cms.

Number One of the collection has been gifted to HM The Queen.

Screenshot 2020-03-10 at 21.45.09Find out more at: https://thewarhorsememorial.org

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