10/11/2012 Remembering our War Horses

On Friday 9th November the contribution made by millions of animals in military conflicts was remembered as dogs, horses and even a mule attended a special remembrance service at the Animals in War monument on London’s Park Lane.

The Horse Trust attended the event and laid a wreath on behalf of all our supporters. We joined many of the UK’s animal welfare charities who also laid wreaths in memory and admiration of all the animals that died whilst serving alongside their human allies.

The Horse Trust is the oldest horse charity in the world, established in 1886. During WW1 the charity, which was then known as the Home of Rest for Horses, helped the patient and faithful horses, whose lives were being sacrificed in the service of our country. During WW1 The Horse Trust played a vital role in helping serving horses by providing the first motorised horse ambulance, which transported wounded horses from the front line in France. In 2 years this ambulance travelled 13,000 miles and carried in over 1,000 injured horses to safety.  The Home of Rest for Horses ambulance, which was the first of its kind worldwide, was so successful that the War Office commissioned more horse ambulances. By the end of the war, 14 of these vehicles were in operation in France saving many thousands of horse’s lives.

The Home of Rest for Horses also provided a dignified retirement to veterans of the War. One of these veterans was San Toy who was the first horse to survive both the Boer and First World War, he remained at The Home of Rest for Horses until his death in 1923. Roger was another WW1 veteran who found sanctuary at the Home of Rest. Roger was a German Officer’s charger who was found wandering rider less during the Battle of the Somme. A British Officer found Roger and ‘captured’ him. Roger went on to serve with the British Officer for the last 2 years of the war. His officer bought him back to Britain and paid for his to remain at the Home of Rest for Horses for the Rest of his life.

Roger and San Toy were some of the lucky few who survived the war and made it home, but many were not so lucky.  Almost a million horses fought on the Western Front during the war, yet tragically only about 60,000 returned to Britain.

The Remembrance service was attended by horses and riders from the Household Cavalry, which was a fitting reminder that animals continue to serve today. 

Whilst we must never forget the many millions of human lives that have been lost in war, please help us remember also the millions of animals who through no choice of their own, served bravely alongside our servicemen and woman during military conflicts.