Who were the real war horses of WW1?

Shell-carrying pack mules moving forward through the mud. © IWM (Q 5940)
WarMule Tue, 01/04/2014 - 19:35

Without horses and mules, ammunition would have run dry, soldiers would have gone without rations and casualties would not have got to the field hospitals.

During World War One the British army put to work over a million horses and mules.

They provided the back bone for an army fighting on a global scale never seen before. Historians generally agree that without them the British army would have disintegrated.

Matt Baker discovers the stories behind the more than one million horses and mules put to work during the WW1.

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My father was born in 1899 and joined up in 1917. He never talked much about the war, but when he enlisted, one of the questions he was asked was whether he had worked with horses. He thought it a strange question at the time, but soon found himself in the Royal Field Artillery in Ireland. He remembered the mules although he only rode horses. He had a great deal of respect for the mules. Whenever my father saw one, he would make a fuss of it.

He went on a signalling course on Salisbury Plain and got posted to a unit. He used to ride a horse and carry a map on his back, and when the officer wanted to survey the land, my father would stop in front of the officer, while the officer reached across to checked the map strapped on my father's back.

I do remember him talking about mules, but not much more about the war.

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