Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Horsing the British Army, 1875-1925


Steven Broomfield
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have just acquired a copy of this book. The full title is "Theirs Not To Reason Why" Horsing the British Army 1875-1925 but the first bit wouldn't attract attention, I suspect.

Written by Graham Winton, it is published by Helion at £37.50.

Having had it for about two hours I am not in position to review it, but at a first glance it looks superb: with six appendices it runs to 455 pages, with a copious bibliography, lots of tables and diagrams and quite a few pictures. It is obviously a book of learning and intellectual rigour. It is divided into three parts, with a total of 11 chapters, with one chapter given over to "Mechanisation and a New Transport System". By far the largest of the three sections covers the Great War, but a fascinating-looking section in Part Two is headed "Horse Breeding in the 19th Century", followed by "The 'Horse World' of London".

I fear it will be a while before I've read it fully, but so far it looks to have a place in anyone's extensive library.

(Note: Mr Winton is speaking at the Winchester Military Museums' site at Peninsula Barracks, Winchester, in October. I will advise details when I have them).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steven- is there anything on the Yeomanry and mobilisation - distinct lack of horses...?

Martin: I an'r give a definitive "yes" or "no" as I've not been able to look too thoroughly yet. However, Yeomanry regiments feature heavily in the Index and I would, to be honest, be somewhat surprised were they not to get a mention.

Mr Drill: steady on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seriously though - one has heard rather a lot about equine conscription of late, possibly as an upshot of that film. I have not heard any in-period references to Walers though, which were such a source of horsepower only 15 years earlier.

Was it simply that the source, whilst adequate to supply South African War requirements, was hopelessly insufficient in 1914, or were there other reasons ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to page 355, the majority of horses in the Desert Mounted Corps were Walers; other than that I'm afraid it will have to await more perusal of the book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was at the launch in Wolverhampton on 12 December, where it kicked off the Wolverhampton War Studies series along with the essay volume "Stemming The Tide" on 1914. Author a very nice guy, communicated the gist of the book very well (it is an adapted PhD thesis) and said how it kept taking him down wider avenues the more he researched what he thought would be a fairly close theme.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Martin: I an'r give a definitive "yes" or "no" as I've not been able to look too thoroughly yet. However, Yeomanry regiments feature heavily in the Index and I would, to be honest, be somewhat surprised were they not to get a mention.

Mr Drill: steady on.

Thank you. Book ordered. And thank you for flagging the book in the first place.

MG

I recall reading somewhere that only one Cavalry horse made it back to the UK after the South African Wars. It always sounded improbable to me given the number of Officers' horses that were probably valued by their owners. Can't recall the reference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was at the launch in Wolverhampton on 12 December, where it kicked off the Wolverhampton War Studies series along with the essay volume "Stemming The Tide" on 1914. Author a very nice guy, communicated the gist of the book very well (it is an adapted PhD thesis) and said how it kept taking him down wider avenues the more he researched what he thought would be a fairly close theme.

Mrs D was there too. Did she wave?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is she Mexican?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<{:-C

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Are the horses on page 142 really both the same size? And what on earth is going on with the map of the US on page 360?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obviously the ASC chap is of somewhat restricted height, whereas the RFA chap is somewhat strapping. Plus the horse at the top is 5 years younger, so has smaller hands. Obvious when you think about it.

And what's wrong with the map? Everything seems to be in the right place to me. (Though to be fair, US geography wasn't my specialised subject.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obviously the ASC chap is of somewhat restricted height, whereas the RFA chap is somewhat strapping. Plus the horse at the top is 5 years younger, so has smaller hands. Obvious when you think about it.

Of course. Damn those young hands.

And what's wrong with the map? Everything seems to be in the right place to me. (Though to be fair, US geography wasn't my specialised subject.)

In reality North Dakota does not border Wyoming. Kansas' eastern border is with Missouri, not Arkansas. Oklahoma does not border Louisiana. Montana does have a border with South Dakota. Iowa does have a border with Nebraska.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, if you're going to be picky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Picky today, sheer pedantry tomorrow?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I shall have to spend more time with my extensive library.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Centipedia?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I couldn't possibly comment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If Colonel D doesn't get there first, I'll have a look this evening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ian, looking at the Index (which seems pretty complete), I have to say (sadly) that the answer would appear to be "no" and "no".

Regarding the 19th, the book doesn't feature individual regiments other than if there is a specific reason (if you see what I mean), and drum horses may well feature but not in the Index.

That aside 9and the bizarre US geography, of course) it looks splendid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I got this book on inter-library loan and have just finished reading it and have decided to purchase a copy. I found it very stimulating and thought provoking and would reccommend to anybody looking at the subject and the work of both the Army Remounts Department and Army Vetinary Corps. It has helped to provide a framework towards looking at the various horse censuses between 1909 and 1917 and lets me concentrate on the civil side of events.

Bootneck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...