WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

War Horses: A Veterinary Hospital in France

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The subject of horses in the Great War has proved a popular subject on this site, no doubt fuelled by the huge success of the War Horse movie. This week on the Blog we move to Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts and this week all have a War Horse theme.

This image shows personnel of an Army Veterinary Corps (AVC) unit in France in the early period of the war. When the regular army of the British Expeditionary Force want to war in 1914 most of its transport – like most European Armies of the day – was horse drawn and an important part of its Order of Battle were AVC units like those seen here who treated the horses wounded and injured on active service, or those that had become ill during the winter of 1914/15. Horse care by the AVC was a hugely important job as the regular army operated on the premise of having a limited number of available horses and it was better to treat animals and return them to work rather than put them down; unless that was unavoidable.

By 1918 there were dozens of AVC units operating on or just behind the front, treating thousands of horses and in many ways they are the unsung heroes of an army that even in the last year of the war with increased mechanisation still relied heavily on horse transport.

3 responses

  1. I heard a story recently about a New Zealander or perhaps an Australian, who went to war with their horse and survived, however they were unable to repatriate the horses and I believe they had to be put down. There are some fascinating untold stories I am sure.

    12/03/2012 at 08:17

  2. My Gt Grandad was in the RFA during WW1. He loved horses and looked after them. He always tried to make sure that they were well fed and watered.

    12/03/2012 at 16:07

  3. Lynn Holmes

    Great site. I have a keen interest in Animals in Warfare and inparticular WW1. Love the photos on here. I have a collection of WW1 postcards and mainly of Horses.

    07/01/2014 at 21:12

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