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Forgotten Heroes

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Everyone is well aware that this year is the one hundredth anniversary of the the First World War and the appalling carnage that took place. Time perhaps to also remember the forgotten heroes - the horses, mules and ponies.

 

A million horses went to war and only 62, 000 returned. From Australia 121, 000 were sent and only one returned.

 

An extract from the first weeks of the war when believe it or not cavalry was still being used.

 

 

Horse management was a critical military skill, but that of the French army was lamentable. Sordet's cavalry rode thirty-five miles a day through the first weeks of the campaign, and some regiments covered far greater distances: the 9th Cuirassiers recorded in their war diary that they moved a hundred miles in just forty-eight hours. Soon their horses - exhausted by carrying a weight of 250 pounds apiece, poorly fed, stinking from untended saddle sores - were foundering in scores. Unlike British cavalrymen, who were trained to lead their animals as much as possible, to husband their strength for action, the French- and Germans- rode many hapless beasts to death.

 

Forgotten Heroes: A million horses were sent to fight in the Great War - only 62,000 came back
 

 

 

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Indeed - my great-grandfather, who was used to working with horses as a partner in the family removal firm and as a publican whose premises included stables, spent the war ferrying horses to and from the front and would, I'm sure, have been doing his best for them.

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