War Horses — Between 500 and 1,000 Horses Were Shipped to Europe Everyday

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War Horses — Between 500 and 1,000 Horses Were Shipped to Europe Everyday
Bring your war horses January 26 to the Mississippi Hotel 1917- Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 22 Jan 1917, Mon, Page 10

What type of horses were used in ww1?

By 1917, Britain had over a million horses and mules in service, but harsh conditions, especially during winter, resulted in heavy losses, particularly amongst the Clydesdale horses, the main breed used to haul the guns.

How Many Canadian Horses were killed in World War 1

Col. Harry Baker, the only MP killed in action in the First World War. He was the member of Parliament for Brome, Que. Canada sent about 130,000 horses overseas during the First World War, according to Steve Harris, chief historian of the directorate of history and heritage at the Department of National Defence

How many horses were killed in the First World War?

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

A war horse is often thought of as a huge cavalry charger or a smart officer’s mount. But during the First World War (1914-18), horses’ roles were much more varied. Their contribution included carrying and pulling supplies, ammunition, artillery and even the wounded. Without these hard-working animals, the Army could not have functioned.

The “pack horse was more important than the cavalry charger” in the First World War, noted Cook, pointing out that moving supplies of food and ammunition to the front lines was a constant need whereas waves of armed riders on galloping horses — both virtually defenceless against machine guns — had mostly become a thing of the past.

The film version of War Horse, he added, is sure to offer Canadians an informative glimpse of a little-remembered feature of the First World War.

Rick Robertsa day
My wife’s grandfather, Walter Darnbrough was attached to an ambulance unit during part of his WWI service in France. On the day that his quick thinking and determination earned him the Canadian Military Medal (MM) for bravery under fire, he was a mounted outrider accompanying a horse drawn ambulance taking wounded to the rear. The ambulance came under enemy machine gun fire, killing the horses that were pulling the ambulance plus the driver, and an officer seated next to the driver. With the crippled ambulance still under fire, Walter disconnected it from the dead horses, and used his surviving horse to pull it to safety. I haven’t been able to find records that indicate how many of the wounded that were on the ambulance that day survived. Walter recovered from his WWI wounds to marry his British war bride in Yorkshire and return to Canada to live out a long and productive life.

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.

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

At the start of the war, the British Army had 25,000 horses. Another 115,000 were purchased compulsorily under the Horse Mobilization Scheme.

Over the course of the war, between 500 and 1,000 horses were shipped to Europe every day.

Dummy horses were sometimes used to deceive the enemy into misreading the location of troops.

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.

Veterinarians 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.

Well-bred horses were more likely to suffer from shell shock and be affected by the sights and sounds of battle than less-refined compatriots.

Horses on the front line could be taught to lie down and take cover at the sound of artillery fire.

In muddy conditions, it could take up to 12 hours to clean a horse and the harness.

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.

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 1916 Battle of Verdun, 7,000 horses from both sides were killed by long-range shelling, 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.

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

5 responses »

  1. My wife’s grandfather, Walter Darnbrough was attached to an ambulance unit during part of his WWI service in France. On the day that his quick thinking and determination earned him the Canadian Military Medal (MM) for bravery under fire, he was a mounted outrider accompanying a horse drawn ambulance taking wounded to the rear. The ambulance came under enemy machine gun fire, killing the horses that were pulling the ambulance plus the driver, and an officer seated next to the driver. With the crippled ambulance still under fire, Walter disconnected it from the dead horses, and used his surviving horse to pull it to safety. I haven’t been able to find records that indicate how many of the wounded that were on the ambulance that day survived. Walter recovered from his WWI wounds to marry his British war bride in Yorkshire and return to Canada to live out a long and productive life.

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      • You are welcome Linda. Walter Darnbrough was a British Home Child who appreciated that the home child system saved him from the consequences of eking out a living on the streets of Leeds as an orphaned 12 year old. He showed his appreciation after becoming a successful adult by making donations to the Bernardo Homes to support their work.

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      • Over the last thirty years or so, retelling the stories of those British Home Children who were badly abused was often repeated by authors and lecturers, an activity that accelerated quickly after a book on the subject snagged significant sales. The result is a public perception that all Home Children were abused. Yes, there are documented cases of Home Children who were abused terribly. But the majority received the routine treatment that children of that era endured… parenting practises that rightly horrify us today. It was the Victorian era of “spare the rod, spoil the child”, “children are to be seen but not heard”, indiscriminate corporal punishment in schools, child labour, etc, etc.

        The executive of the British Isles Family History Society of Ottawa, some of whom had Home Child ancestors, concerned about the imbalance in the written coverage of the Home Child subject, approached us (Global Heritage Press) with a proposal to publish a book containing the stories of Home Children who had a different experience. Those stories were easy to find, and the descendants of those Home Children were anxious to tell them. The resulting book ‘British Home Children, Their Stories’ was published in 2010 to commemorate The Year of the British Home Child. The book was launched at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa to a large audience including many Home Child descendants, several of whom related more stories of their family members’ experiences.

        For Walter Darnbrough and many more like him, the Home Child system was a lifeline out of the horrific industrial revolution generated social conditions in England that took his parents’ lives.

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