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War Horses
 By Winniefield Park   •   18th Nov 2015   •   4,118 views   •   1 comments
War Horses

Remembrance Day and Memorial Day are celebrated in many countries during the month of November. Itís a time to thank veterans and remember fallen heros. Along with the human heros, many of us also give some thought to the thousands of four-legged heros that endured the horrors of battle alongside their human counterparts. When World War One broke out, the western world was experiencing a transition from real horsepower to engine power. It was the last war in which horses played a major role.

Motorcars were becoming popular and tractors and fuel driven machinery was taking over agricultural work formerly done by teams of horses. When WWI began Cavalry still existed and horses played a major part in battles, but it was quickly apparent that the role of horses changed drastically in the face of mechanized war machines. Cavalry had the advantage over foot soldiers carrying weapons like swords, but machine guns, and modern artillery defeated that advantage, with often devastating results. Even with the disadvantage, horses were often more valued than men, which were more easily replaceable. Horses still pulled loads through terrain trucks could not handle, artillery and supply wagons, and ironically, first-aid ambulances.

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Related: FRemembering the Horses of World War I

Even with new technology, horses still played a major role. Sadly, few returned home and their names are not inscribed on the many cenotaphs and monuments erected in honor of fallen heros. When WWII began in 1939, horses took a much lesser role. Britain had mechanized its military and the U.S. had only one mounted cavalry unit, stationed in the Philippines.

But still, over six million horses were used by Nazi Germany and the U.S.S.R. for hauling cargo, such as troop transport, artillery and supplies, largely because these countries did not have access to the raw materials for building vehicles and fueling them. But, the use of horses was ineffectual against the faster, more durable motorized transports of the allies. And, the cost of maintaining horsepower was very high. Horsepower also limited the distance that supplies and weaponry could be moved. A truck can run 24X7 with repair and refueling. A horse must be rested and fed. Poor food, housing and care and the logistics of providing it all was a major challenge.

As WWII progressed, fewer and fewer horses were used. France started out with 500,000 horses that included light cavalry and horse-drawn artillery. By the end of the war, only a few cavalry units remained. Few countries used them for drawing supplies, as trucks proved far more efficient. The last British mounted cavalry charge occurred on March 21, 1942 in Burma.

Now, most horses play a ceremonial role when it comes to the military, with units kept specifically for parades and demonstrations. But in Afghanistan in 2001, Special Operations soldiers rode horses into combat with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. Cavalry type units still train because small horseback mounted units can move around a battlefield quietly and don't require the gasoline and supplies that constrain motorized forces. Oddly, this sounds exactly why horses fell out of favor in battle.

So while the somber celebrations take place around the world, many of us will be giving thanks to the unsung four-legged heroes that fell and share in the sentiment, Ďnever againí.



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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/22/horses-marines-afghanistan/10744395/
https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/the-soldiers-kiss/
http://www.animalsinwar.org.uk/index.cfm?asset_id=1422
Horse News More PB Articles About:  Military,
Horse News More In This Category:  Equine History and Culture      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
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Australia loves their war horses. The Australian Light Horse was a very popular brigade during WWI. They fought unhorsed at Gallipoli (due to the treacherous heights above Anzac Cove) but regained their mounts after the withdrawal from the peninsula in January 1916. Thereafter they were used in Palestine in the desert. There are some fascinating stories that came about from the New Zealand and Australian mounted troops there. After the war ended a lot of them put down their faithful mounts rather than see them sold into hard labour in Egypt. Only a handful of horses returned to their home countries. Bess is a famous New Zealand mare who did.

Some of the Australian horses that took part in that war are the famous Waler breed from New South Wales. They are tough, hardy horses used a lot of the time by stockmen. One of the more famous Walers from the war was called "Bill" (his full name is a bit inappropriate to post, see the link I'll attach). He was notorious for bucking people off.
  Nov 18, 2015  •  5,324 views
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