The War Horse: Horses in Battle.
An account of the life and death of horses when used in the British army during The First World war. Horses were used on the western and eastern fronts as well as the campaigns against the Turks. Many thousands were used in various roles and sadly many thousands were killed or maimed and had to be shot. The high command still considered that the cavalry had a major role to play. The British thought that the cavalry could charge the German positions where and when possible, then lead a breakthrough at that point in the German lines. Although initially they did make a positive contribution to the fighting, it became clear that the days of valiant cavalry charges were over. Particularly on the western front the cavalry were of little use towards the end of the war.
On the home front horses were requisitioned from owners against there wishes. Which caused great unhappiness throughout the country. On arrival at the front the larger horses were used mainly for mobility. Mobile guns and artillery was drawn by horses as was ammunition. Food along with all provisions had to be drawn by the horses from supply depots at the rear, to the fighting men at the front. At times horses were overworked and underfed, often dropping with exhaustion. When this happened the horse was shot and another horse would be hitched into it's place in the line immediately.
In this ''War To End All Wars'' tens of thousands of horses were lost, but the human cost was much higher. Casualty figures show that Germany lost approximately. 1.7 Million Britain and the Empire lost 1 Million and the USA lost approximately 126,000. Millions more people were lost from other warring nations. The armistice was signed early on the morning of 11 November 1918. The guns fell silent at 11 am, that same morning.
What was it for.
Please read the above paragraph again, are we able to explain today why this terrible war was fought. The Generals accepted in their planning that casualties would be high. No thought was given to the human cost, the agony and the pain inflicted on the wounded and the dead. The unbearable pain and loss inflicted on the ones left behind at home - They also serve who only stand and wait. Well, it was said to be the war to end all wars. As we know it was not, those wounded and dead fought to end it all but in 1939 we started again. I have heard it said that war is natures pruning fork. Perhaps this is so.
© 2012 Graham Lee