So, here we are in 2014

A mule team bogged in thigh deep mud near Potijze Farm in the Ypres Sector. 1917
WarMule Sat, 01/03/2014 - 18:21

It's hard to believe that I am over 50 years of age, yet I know very little about WW1. Do you find that shocking? My parents grew up in the Blitz of WW2 and very little was ever spoken of how they coped. My mother's childhood was in Hull, North Humberside (as they then called it) - today Yorkshire. My father's was way down in Cornwall where he grew up on a farm. Their paths were to cross when my father's ship sailed into Hull docks - but that's another story for another time.

History was never a subject I enjoyed at school and what we did learn, I have very little recollection of any of it about the First World War, or any other war to come think of it. None of my grandparents talked about the war and as a young girl growing up, I spent many school holidays with both my mother and father's parents. A time for happiness. I can't even begin to imagine what their lives might have been like during wartime.

So, here we are in 2014. One hundred years on from when the First World War broke out.

Even though I confess to knowing very little about WW1, I found myself wanting to do something in this centenary year... so here it is... WarMule.

I love animals, especially the long-eared, braying kind. I'm not sure how many donkeys found themselves serving in the First World War, but I do know that millions of horses and mules were conscripted and millions died alongside soldiers. Many died through pure exhaustion and hunger, only to be slaughtered when the war was over. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

That's why WarMule was created. A place for people to come along and hopefully be inspired to write a poem... to reflect on war and the loss of so many.

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I have always known my grandad was a horse handler during WW1 but he would never speak to anyone about what he had seen but have found out that he went AWOL 3 times during the conflict due to him being unable to go back. Will try to find out more as have 2 relatives who like to research family history.

He was originally a miner so must have looked after the ponies down the pits where conditions were pretty horrible therefore for him to be stressed by what he saw his charges go through must of been particularly harrowing.

From a previous comment Marion made a couple of weeks ago, she mentioned that her father was asked whether he had worked with horses when he enlisted. It's possible that your grandad was also asked the same question and as he worked down the mines with pit ponies, he would have experience with handling horses and mules.

Thanks Danielle for sharing your grandad's memory.

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