Wednesday, August 08, 2012
World War 1 Wednesday
Recently the movie War Horse brought to the forefront the history of the horse during the First World War. One estimate puts the number of horses who served in World War 1 at six MILLION. In an era when the world was moving from agrarian to industrial, from mounted cavalry to mechanized infantry, the horses who were sent to war were up against the worst conditions possible. Thoroughbreds are no match for machine guns. Just as the tools of war were changing during the American Civil War and it took the techniques and strategies of warfare needed to catch up (no standing ten feet from each other and blasting away with inaccurate weapons as in the Revolutionary War) the weapons of the First World War were rapidly changing and becoming more and more deadly, to man and animal alike.
Of the six million horses utilized in World War One, it quickly became apparent that a mounted charge into the mouth of a machine gun nest resulted only in massive casualties, so most of the horses were used to haul equipment, as mounts for couriers, and in the use of pulling ambulances. Even used in these capacities, more than 25% of all the military horses in World War One died during the war. Chemical warfare, exhaustion, starvation, drowning, falling into bomb craters, bullets and disease. The ravaging effects of war were not confined just to the men and women who served but the horses, mules, oxen and yes, even camels who also served.
Question for you. Have you seen the movie War Horse or read the book?