Horses of WWI and the Blue Cross

212Marion put this picture into her photo album of WWI with her caption “French troops coming down from Pont-à-Mousson”. We love the corners that she used to mount the photos in the album and we have preserved them. Her journal doesn’t include information about the horses of WWI, probably because she was so busy taking care of the vehicle that she was driving.

We do know now that in 1914 the British had 25,000 horses ‘serving’ on the battlefields. TheWWI horsey were needed to pull the wagons loaded with supplies, artillery, wounded and dying men as well as mounts for their cavalry charges. The War Office tasked the military units to send 500,000 more horses to help with the war effort. From 1914-17 the US sent 1,000 horses on each ship heading to England from the harbors. It is estimated that 6 million horses were used in WWI.

The soldiers considered these horses part of the military and they did the best they could to take care of them. However, the majority of them were either killed in battle or died of disease and starvation. The Blue Cross stepped in to help. They began in 1897 in Britain as an animal charity. By Armistice in 1918 they had raised £170,000 to care for the sick and injured animals of WWI. Over 50,000 horses were treated in hospitals in France. The charity organization still exists and in 2012 put together the War Horse Collection of photos from both world wars.

Blue Cross postersThis may have been done in part by the 2012 release of the movie War Horse.