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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Horses and dogs killed in action

fiona dowson

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A few years ago one of the animal charities were selling blue poppies in memory of horses and dogs killed in war. Does anyone know anything about the numbers of horses killed? I imagine it was quite high. Also, what were dogs doing? Were they rescuing people St Bernard style? 

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I don't know if you are aware, but there is a lovely memorial to the animals in war at Hyde Park in London.




Kev Loughnane19298705_Animals2Cropped.jpg.1c4ad93012fecda60cb627e3179c55d9.jpg1979682371_Animals3Cropped.jpg.ccfb58f30f3eadf46fbef516eafb9feb.jpg


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1 hour ago, fiona dowson said:

 Also, what were dogs doing? Were they rescuing people St Bernard style? 


Anyone with Primary School kids may be interested in these books by Megan Rix which are based 'True Stories' of dogs in WW1 and WW2.


My kids loved them - suitable for the under 12s.


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The following are indicative figures purely for the British effort.


For horses and mules, up to 1st October 1917, 226,000 are recorded as died, destroyed, killed and missing in the British Army in France and England. Extrapolating, somewhere in the region of 50,000-80,000 were probably lost in the final year of the war in France and England. Significant casualties would have been incurred in other theatres such as Palestine, Iraq, East Africa, etc.


Approximately 14,000 were recorded as sunk (lost at sea in transit from North America).


From 11th November 1918 to 31st March 1920, around 62,000 were sold for meat in the UK, France, and all other theatres.









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Extracts from "The Army Veterinary Service in War" by MajGen Sir John Moore, 1921.

"...the important fact that the Allies during the war had the command of the majority of the useful animals of the world, particularly of those that were essential for the draught purposes of Artillery and Transport, so greatly in demand."


He also supplies these stats:

Global Population of Horses
Europe           40.0 *
Asia               11.0
Africa              1.0
N America      19.0
S Amerca        6,0
Anzac             2.0
 Global total   79.0


        Russia       22.0
        UK               3.0
        France        3.0
        Italy             1.0
     total Allies    29.0

        Germany     4.0
AustriaHungary   4,0
Turkey inEurope  0.3
 total CenPwrs     8.3


        others         2.7

 Total Europe    40.0

The total numbers can be misleading . It is the type of horse that is of concern. By far the greatest need was for the 'Light Draft'. 20 of this type were purchased for every 1 of all the other classes combined.



In Aug 1914 0.05m on strength. By 1918 some 0.5m had been bought in UK and 0.7m from US and Canada. Death, destruction and missing accounted for 0.3m (ie 25%)       [ this matches 265's post above]


In Aug 1914 0.2m on strength but 0.8m needed ; by Nov 1917 1.8m had been bought from Spain and S.America to supply wastage.




PS the term 'Wastage' is not mine!


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Addressed to some extent (for horses) as point 4 in this blog post https://ohwhataladylikewar.com/2020/11/04/straight-from-the-horses-mouth/

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