8 Million Horses Died For Us

It's difficult to think of how many innocent horses died during the first world war.  My heart breaks for them and the families that lost beloved horses and ponies when they were requisitioned for the war.

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Biblio Archives

It is said that, the U.S. supported the Allies by delivering approximately 1,000 horses by ship a day between the years of 1914-1917.

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State Library of WA

An Estimated 8 Million horses died in 4 years of war.

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(National Library of Scotland)

Most horses didn't live through the war but there is a wonderful story of a little mare that survived the war and lived out her last days peacefully.  Sikh was bred in Australia and raised in India and then sent to North China with the 36th Sikh regiment. Lieutenant Alexander Craven Vicary who became  commander of the Second Battalion in Ypres, Belgium was granted special permission to take Sikh with him when he was called to the front in 1914.  She had a terrible 8 week sea voyage from China to the Continent stabled in a makeshift open box on the boat deck and was only able to get out to stretch during stops at 4 ports.

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The Sikh and Lieutenant Alexander Craven Vicary, courtesy of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.

Through Serbia and Bulgaria they traveled bringing supplies to troops on the front lines.

 Many of the men believed she was an omen of good luck. She traveled with the Lieutenant to Flanders and France then southern Russia.

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The Sikh in Singapore, courtesy of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.

Once they reached Europe, The Sikh traveled with Vicary’s regiment on their victorious march through Serbia and Bulgaria, delivering supplies to troops on the front lines through the thunder of grenades and shellfire. Chatterton says The Sikh was viewed by many of the men she encountered as an omen of good luck. The mare and Vicary also spent time in the trenches of Flanders and France before moving on to southern Russia. Then incredibly when the war ended The Sikh and the Lieutenant walked all the way home from Russia to England through Turkey, Greece, Italy and France. She lived the rest of her days in peaceful retirement with the Lieutenant.

Plans are underway to honor The Sikh’s legacy at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.

 

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