WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

Forgotten Fronts: War Horses on the Eastern Front 1915

The Eastern Front in the Great War is something few are aware of; the Eastern Front of a generation later in Hitler’s war has eclipsed it and the fact that at any given time more than a million German soldiers faced potentially millions of Russian troops, both deadlocked in the East in the same way there was deadlock in the West. The Eastern Front became a mirror of France and Flanders in some ways; trenches, No Man’s Land, barbed wire, shelling and attrition. Joined by troops of the Austro-Hungarian Empire more than 800,000 Germans died in the East along with 1.15 million Austro-Hungarians; opposite them more than 2.2 million Russians died before the Russian Revolution changed everything.

This photograph comes from a collection of a young German gunner who served on the Eastern Front between 1914 and 1917, before he moved to France where he died in 1918. Here two German war horses are pulling a transport wagon used to carry material, food and other equipment for the artillery regiment he served with. In both World Wars horses were the only reliable transport in the often awful conditions on the Eastern Front: extremities of cold and rain which turned the roads and battlefield into a quagmire, and often caused more casualties from the elements than the enemy. Thousands of horses died on the Eastern Front, forgotten animals on a forgotten front.

6 responses

  1. Thanks for this–I love the way you make sure to cover different theatres of the Great War, and not just the ones that loom largest in the public imagination. I find your posts to be so evocative and moving. This is one of my absolute favourite websites!

    15/10/2012 at 08:40

    • sommecourt

      Thanks, that’s really kind. Blogs like this are a good and accessible way of explaining lesser known aspects of the Great War as well as the familiar ones. Glad that its appreciated!

      15/10/2012 at 08:44

      • My pleasure. Every tiny detail that can be known adds context to the whole, and those forgotten grains that slip between the floorboards are, for me, the most fascinating parts of history. Isn’t the excavation of the tiny particles the most exciting part of historical archaeology? Keep up the fantastic work, sir! We really rely on you! :^)

        15/10/2012 at 08:48

      • One more thing–here is a song that I think you will really enjoy, set to an interesting video. You needn’t watch the video, but you might like to give the song a listen! I thought of it right away when I read your post–I think it’s your post’s theme tune! Ha. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pgEN4k1wvs

        15/10/2012 at 08:50

      • sommecourt

        Nice one!

        15/10/2012 at 11:13

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