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Martyn Gibson

Horses used/died during WW1

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Can any one enlighten me as to how many horses were used during WW1 and how many were killed. The figures, if they are available, must be very high.

Martyn

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Hello Martyn,

I wonder wether the number is correct, seems an extraordinary amount of horses killed in the Great War. The book is in German:

Johannsen, Ernst. Fronterinnerungen eines Pferdes. Hamburg-Bergedorf, Fackelreiter-Verlag 1929, 54 S., illustr. Orig.-Engl.-Broschur.

Erste Ausgabe -- dem Gedächtnis der 9586000 Pferde, die dem Weltkriege zum Opfer fielen.

Ernst Johannsen: Front-memories of a horse. 1st edition, in memory of the 9.586.000 horses, who became victims of the World War.

The book is very rare and very expensive (www.zvab.de 70 Euros), I haven't got it myself. I don't know wether Johannsen refers to German horses only.

Best wishes

Daniel

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Some partial figures for the British Army:

As at 1 October 1917, the British Army in France and UK had lost 225,856 horses killed, missing or destroyed.

Total British Army holdings of horses in all theatres:

31 August 1917 - 591,234

31 August 1918 - 533,173

Hope this helps

Charles M

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I present a lecture to local groups called "Animal hero's of the Great War" and have a fair bit of information about horses, animal hospitals etc. PM me and I will mail you the stuff if you are interested.

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Sorry I cant be more specific, but I do know there is a book out there (somewhere) that deals exclusively with the use of horses in the Great War. I never owned this book, but remember coming upon it some years ago?

Maybe worth a search at a military book dealer?

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The German Army had some 1.5 million horses at any given time in the war. 400,000 horses died due to enemy fire, 500,000 died due to all kinds of diseases.

Regards,

Jan

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There is a thread 'Horses and Drivers' somewhere on the forum which you might find interesting. Was a couple of weeks ago so is probably lurking in previous pages.

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Martyn

I've just managed to get a copy of the Official History of the War Veterinary services on loan.

the statistics are horrifying and given time I can probably scan them and let you have the full details. for now the total mortality rate for horses and mules in all theatres of war, including loss at sea, comes to 484,143.

During the same period over 2.5 million animals were treated and over 1.8 million of them were cured.

Garth

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If you want a fictionalised account of this, once again Henry Williamson is your man. In "love and the Loveless" (Vol.7 of "A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight") his hero is based in a transport unit training at Belton House near Grantham, Lincs. There's a lot about training horseriders and using mules (from Palestine!) and even fox hunting. All strangely moving, and I only like horses when they're in my salami, but he's such a wonderful writer he can drag you into the strangest things.

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I realise I'm donkey's years late with this but I was researching a horse trough at a junction near my village when I came across your thread. The figures on this trough and those in your thread strike me as contradictory. This memorial to horses [follow the link] is dedicated to 400,000 horses dead and wounded in the South African War. You'd have thought that, either, a lot less would have died in that war, or a lot more in WW1.

Cheers, Steve

http://www.purkiss.eu/gallery/main.php?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=768

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Hi All

I wonder how many horses, that survived the war, were fetched home or sold off as horse meat, "food".

Regards.

Gerwyn

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Since the signing of the Armistice up to 28th March 1919, 187,539 horses and 56,044 mules had been sold alive at prices averaging over £38 each for horses and £34 10s. each for mules, and 28,008 horses and mules had been sold for meat at an average of over £21 10s. each. No animals unfit for work were sold alive. Diseased horses had been destroyed.

Ref from statement by Winston Churchill 08/04/1919.

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This memorial to horses [follow the link] is dedicated to 400,000 horses dead and wounded in the South African War. You'd have thought that, either, a lot less would have died in that war, or a lot more in WW1.

Cheers, Steve

I'll check later, but Anglesey's History of the British cavalry (Vol 5) covers the SA war, and the figures are horrific. French's Cavalry used up horses at a staggering rate.

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I don't know the exact numbers but I understand the losses were 7.5% of the totals per month.

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Since the signing of the Armistice up to 28th March 1919, 187,539 horses and 56,044 mules had been sold alive at prices averaging over £38 each for horses and £34 10s. each for mules, and 28,008 horses and mules had been sold for meat at an average of over £21 10s. each. No animals unfit for work were sold alive. Diseased horses had been destroyed.

Ref from statement by Winston Churchill 08/04/1919.

A great leader in WW2, but I'm not sure in WW1, in a war were a estimated 16 millions died, and then a epdemic that killed another estimated 50 million people, in 1919 who would be counting horses

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Just for the sake of devil's advocacy, does anyone know how many horses and mules died, were destroyed or were slaughtered for meat in the 4 years before or after the Great War?

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A great leader in WW2, but I'm not sure in WW1, in a war were a estimated 16 millions died, and then a epdemic that killed another estimated 50 million people, in 1919 who would be counting horses

As regards the reason for counting, it was the button counters, they knew to the pound the value of all of the horseflesh sold. Do you think everyone just sat with their heads in their hands moaning about poor lost Tommy? People got on with the jobs they were paid to do which included accounts and audits.

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I wonder who checked their audits, to see if they were the correct figures.

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The Official Veterinary History gives all the figures for those sold off to French farmers, those sold for horse meat in UK and on the continent and those used to feed German POW's. By sending them to horse economiser plants they could get something like £4.00 per horse for all the by products.

Pete

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I wonder who checked their audits, to see if they were the correct figures.

In 1919, WSC would be making a statement in his official capacity. As stated, these would be figures collected and collated by civil servants in the course of their daily duties. The figures would be subject to the same checks and audits as any other government statistics.

The Boer War was fought on horseback to a much greater extent than the Great War. Apart from cavalry, mounted infantry were used to a great extent and motor cars/lorries would be very thin on the ground.

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