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Remount Service - standalone unit or part of the ASC?


Tom P-C
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Hi All,

Was there a standalone Remount Service during the Great War or only a Remounts Branch of the Army Service Corps?

There are two WWI-era remounts cap badges: one bearing the title "Army Remount Service" and another "Remounts" (pics attached).  In 'Military Badge Collecting' by John Gaylor, he describes the badges as belonging to the "Remounts Service" under the Chapter on "War Raised Units" along with the likes of the Household Battalion and Machine Gun Corps. The March 1918 Army List shows a Remount Service in the same way that it would any other unit, except that it appears that officers serving with it are on attachment. 

A Remount Department was formed in 1887 but was absorbed into the ASC in 1891.  The ASC certainly had a remounts branch during the war (see poster attached) but I would imagine those personnel wore the cap badge of the ASC - in which case, who wore the Remounts cap badge? The LongLongTrail has a page for the "Army Service Corps Remounts Service" but doesn't mention anything about any other standalone unit. 

Hopefully forum members can enlighten me!

Thanks and best wishes,

Tom

asc remounts.png

ARS1.jpg

ARS2.jpg

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9 hours ago, Tom P-C said:

Hi All,

Was there a standalone Remount Service during the Great War or only a Remounts Branch of the Army Service Corps?

There are two WWI-era remounts cap badges: one bearing the title "Army Remount Service" and another "Remounts" (pics attached).  In 'Military Badge Collecting' by John Gaylor, he describes the badges as belonging to the "Remounts Service" under the Chapter on "War Raised Units" along with the likes of the Household Battalion and Machine Gun Corps. The March 1918 Army List shows a Remount Service in the same way that it would any other unit, except that it appears that officers serving with it are on attachment. 

A Remount Department was formed in 1887 but was absorbed into the ASC in 1891.  The ASC certainly had a remounts branch during the war (see poster attached) but I would imagine those personnel wore the cap badge of the ASC - in which case, who wore the Remounts cap badge? The LongLongTrail has a page for the "Army Service Corps Remounts Service" but doesn't mention anything about any other standalone unit. 

Hopefully forum members can enlighten me!

Thanks and best wishes,

Tom

asc remounts.png

ARS1.jpg

ARS2.jpg

It wasn’t stand alone Tom, but a sub branch of the ASC permitted its own discrete cap badge.  My impression is that it was a tiny branch initially, which grew rapidly when the demands of the war became apparent, but still remained a small organisation proportionate to the size of the Army (the largest Britain and its satellites ever put into the field).  There are some useful links here:

1. https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/281923-army-service-corp-remount-unit/?tab=comments#comment-2892973
 

2. https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/making-horses-war-army-remount-service/
(there’s an interesting sub-link here about the depot at Romsey in Hampshire and the memorial to it created there).

NB.  I think that Remount Service (delivered by a ‘Director’) was just the staff nomenclature used, as ‘branch’ wasn’t really a term that ever appeared on insignia.

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks for your prompt and informative reply, Frogsmile! :D

The two links you provided, both within this forum and at the National Archives, discuss the ASC Remount Service (whose existence I acknowledge).  Of course, if a separate war-raised unit did not exist there's no reason why they should talk about anything else!

The conflicting issues I now have are:

  1. John Gaylor ('Military Badge Collecting') referring to the Remount Service as a war-raised unit wearing the badges discussed.
  2. The entry for the Remount Service in the March 1918 Army List (section 311, actual page 509) which doesn't look to be affiliated to the ASC.
  3. Somewhat less importantly or convincingly, their inclusion in the famous cap badge collection at the Naval & Military Club, London. If they were a component part of the ASC their precedence (if one is even deserved for a component part!) would surely have been after the ASC under the principle of inheritance (like the RE>RFC or MGC>Tank Corps).  Instead it is displayed after the 21st Lancers, in the same position it occupies in the Army Lists (presumably elevated as a "mounted" service).

           versus

  1. Your comment that it was "a sub branch of the ASC permitted its own discrete cap badge" (which will put this whole thing to bed if we can find some evidence for it).

It would be immensely helpful if you can share with me some source that shows the ASC Remounts Service wore one or both of the two badges, rather than the ASC badge,

Many thanks for sharing your great knowledge with me!

With best wishes,

Tom

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3 hours ago, Tom P-C said:

Thanks for your prompt and informative reply, Frogsmile! :D

The two links you provided, both within this forum and at the National Archives, discuss the ASC Remount Service (whose existence I acknowledge).  Of course, if a separate war-raised unit did not exist there's no reason why they should talk about anything else!

The conflicting issues I now have are:

  1. John Gaylor ('Military Badge Collecting') referring to the Remount Service as a war-raised unit wearing the badges discussed.
  2. The entry for the Remount Service in the March 1918 Army List (section 311, actual page 509) which doesn't look to be affiliated to the ASC.
  3. Somewhat less importantly or convincingly, their inclusion in the famous cap badge collection at the Naval & Military Club, London. If they were a component part of the ASC their precedence (if one is even deserved for a component part!) would surely have been after the ASC under the principle of inheritance (like the RE>RFC or MGC>Tank Corps).  Instead it is displayed after the 21st Lancers, in the same position it occupies in the Army Lists (presumably elevated as a "mounted" service).

           versus

  1. Your comment that it was "a sub branch of the ASC permitted its own discrete cap badge" (which will put this whole thing to bed if we can find some evidence for it).

It would be immensely helpful if you can share with me some source that shows the ASC Remounts Service wore one or both of the two badges, rather than the ASC badge,

Many thanks for sharing your great knowledge with me!

With best wishes,

Tom

You raise some good points Tom, I’ll see what I can find.  I know for sure that the discrete remounts badge was worn by some soldiers, as I’ve seen an actual photo of it in wear.  Indeed it was posted in this forum not that long ago. The remount depots were all joint efforts and not run exclusively by the Army Remounts Service.  Most were commanded by old ‘dug out’ Officers with prior service in cavalry, artillery, ASC, or Yeomanry, many of whom had been masters of hunts or polo players.  The key requirements were an understanding of the Army (commanding a unit or establishment) and meaningful experience of horseflesh/equestrianism.  They were supported by a quarter-master and an adjutant to run the infrastructure.  Under their command were veterinary officers and veterinary assistants (the latter ORs) for obvious purposes, supported by a team of smiths and farriers under a farrier major (often ex cavalry and still wearing their insignia).  The ASC provided “strappers” (trained army grooms and ostlers), and the Roughriders on each establishment appear to be the only ones who might’ve been badged Remount Service (this is also implied in the design of the badge with its prancing horse and or training whip design).  They were often older men.  In addition there were civilian stable hands on the staff employed as what we would later call civil servants of industrial grade.  Of the men employed in army uniform, as the war developed and attrition set in, the regular trawls for fitter, younger men hit the remount depots, just as it did other rear area units and this denuding of manpower led to the idea that women (who had already played a part on the civilian side) might take up a significant degree of the burden by being formally attached from the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (‘Queen Mary’s’ later added on in front) and, increasingly, these women replaced men in various roles at the remount depots.  I believe that some might even have been involved in rough riding, but I don’t think I’ve seen any evidence of them wearing Remount Service insignia.  There were also, increasingly, the ex wounded who had been downgraded, but deemed capable of working in stables.

All the above information I’ve seen (photos) read (books and personal accounts) and committed to memory over past years.  I shall dig around and see if I can find any formal written references to meet your understandable desire for academic rigour.

Afternote: There is a suggestion at the following link that the Remount Service had been a stand alone (departmental corps) with its own insignia until 1910, when it was absorbed as a branch by the ASC, at which point ASC insignia was adopted.  This makes complete sense to me as the same thing had occurred previously with the corps of armourers and the corps of army staff clerks (both absorbed as ‘branches’).  This leaves the photo of a soldier wearing Remount Service insignia in SD uniform that I mentioned earlier, but that might have been from before the change in 1910, or simply retention by an old soldier able to get away with it in wartime conditions.  See: https://www.lbmhs.co.uk/remount-history/  However, King George V came to the throne in 1910 so it would be odd unless the badge with crown was introduced fractionally before the department was absorbed by the ASC and discontinued almost immediately.

For interest also see this link regarding the Swathling Remount Depot: http://www.swaythling.org.uk

And similarly, Arborfield: http://www.arborfieldhistory.org.uk/WW1/WW1_Army_Remount_Service.htm

1DA7D76D-A34C-4114-AE0F-948F60BBE5AD.jpeg

 

BDF9F851-C826-4E9C-9697-E19B9BB163AB.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Here is a "REMOUNTS" badge (i.e. without crown) in use - mentioned in my second post above - courtesy of forum member and prolific poster, GWF1967.  It is clearly early in the war as he wears a simplified pattern emergency jacket without upper pocket pleats or shoulder patches, a type that were issued between early Autumn 1914 and late Summer 1915.  It shows that the badge continued in use, whether approved, or not.  In the middle photo two men on the right side of the frame are wearing the Remount Service badge with crown.  Notice that they are also the only ones without ASC titles, thus suggesting that they considered themselves a separate entity even if associated.  In the lowermost photo the three men on the centre of the frame are all wearing the REMOUNTS badge.  The photo of two men from the 53rd Remounts Sqn MEF was taken in Constantinople and shows the Remount Service badge with crown (in this case they appear to have ASC shoulder titles).

ArmyRemounts.jpg

Army Remounts Service ii.jpg

Army Remounts Service iii.jpg

Army Remounts - Constantinople MEF.jpg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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5 hours ago, Tom P-C said:

 

  1. Your comment that it was "a sub branch of the ASC permitted its own discrete cap badge" (which will put this whole thing to bed if we can find some evidence for it).

 

Ernest George Barton R/258405 has surviving service papers listing his Regiment as Army Service Corps, his unit is listed as 1st Base Remounts Depot.  His Medal Index Card and medal roll show A.S.C. with no mention of Remounts.

Herbert William Duxson. R/393789.  64th Remount Squadron.  Regiment on M.I.C. - A.S.C.

George Kennett. R/4/063558. 4th Base Remounts.  Regiment on M.I.C. - A.S.C.

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Thanks GWF1967.  

I am not suggesting that the ASC did not have a remounts branch/service.  I am hunting for evidence that ASC Remounts personnel wore the "Army Remount Service" and "Remounts" cap badges (see post 1) rather than ASC badges.  If that can be shown then we can finally be sure that there was not a separate war-raised Remount Service (as suggested by John Gaylor in 'Military Badge Collecting' (1983) and the Army List March 1918).

Edited by Tom P-C
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5 minutes ago, Tom P-C said:

Thanks GWF1967.  

I am not suggesting that the ASC did not have a remounts branch/service.  I am hunting for evidence that ASC Remounts personnel wore the "Army Remount Service" and "Remounts" cap badges (see post 1) rather than ASC badges.  If that can be shown then we can finally be sure that there was not a separate war-raised Remount Service (as suggested by John Gaylor in 'Military Badge Collecting' (1983) and the Army List March 1918).

Tom isn’t that what I’ve just shown with the photos above?

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3 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

Here is a "REMOUNTS" badge (i.e. without crown) in use - mentioned in my second post above - courtesy of forum member and prolific poster, GWF1967.  It is clearly early in the war as he wears a simplified pattern emergency jacket without upper pocket pleats or shoulder patches, a type that were issued between early Autumn 1914 and late Summer 1915.  It shows that the badge continued in use, whether approved, or not.  In the middle photo two men on the right side of the frame are wearing the Remount Service badge with crown.  Notice that they are also the only ones without ASC titles, thus suggesting that they considered themselves a separate entity even if associated.  In the lowermost photo the three men on the centre of the frame are all wearing the REMOUNTS badge.  The photo of two men from the 53rd Remounts MEF was taken in Constantinople and shows the Remount Service badge with crown (in this case they appear to have ASC shoulder titles).

ArmyRemounts.jpg

Army Remounts Service ii.jpg

Army Remounts Service iii.jpg

Army Remounts - Constantinople MEF.jpg

Thank you very much for those photos, Frogsmile (and thank you, GWF1967 for providing them in the first place).

These show the badges were in use, but do not necessarily help us determine what unit the men belonged to.  The photo where half of the men are wearing ASC badges and the other half Remount badges is compelling, but then I would imagine if my theoretical unit existed, both units would have worked together.

If we knew that these photos were definitely of ASC personnel then that might clinch it.

Nonetheless, the Army List lists a unit called the Remount Service and states that it is "under the control of the Director of Remounts, War Office, Whitehall" which still makes it sound like a standalone unit to me.  The ASC 

I'm going to become unpopular in a minute, aren't I? :D

Edited by Tom P-C
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13 minutes ago, Tom P-C said:

Thank you very much for those photos, Frogsmile (and thank you, GWF1967 for providing them in the first place).

These show the badges were in use, but do not necessarily help us determine what unit the men belonged to.  The photo were half of the men are wearing ASC badges and the other half Remount badges is compelling, but then I would imagine if my theoretical unit existed, both units would have worked together.

I found mention of units for all except the solitary man posted by GWF1967.  All were numbered ASC Remount Squadrons.  I can find no other types of Remount units (other than the depots - also ASC) whatsoever.  It’s clear that the deployable squadrons contained men of at least three types, ASC, AVC and Remount/Remounts.  I can’t find substantive evidence ‘why’ there were remounts badges, but it seems telling that both types of Remount badge existed concurrently.  It’s also significant that the crowned badge is marked GvR making it a post 1911 design.  My perception is that the strappers were badged ASC and the roughriders badged Remounts, but that’s just my logical speculation.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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This may open up some new avenues for us to look into.  I'm going to see if I can find their MICs.

Firstly three CWGC casualties whose unit is "Army Remount Service".

Secondly, some more support from this forum (from 2004) for a standalone unit.

Remount Deaths.jpg

Remounts evidence.jpg

Edited by Tom P-C
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Here's one of them:

Remount death2.jpg

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3 minutes ago, Tom P-C said:

This may open up some new avenues for us to look into.  I'm going to see if I can find their MICs.

Firstly three CWGC casualties whose unit is "Army Remount Service".

Secondly, some more support from this forum (from 2004) for a standalone unit.

Remount Deaths.jpg

Remounts evidence.jpg

Yes it will be interesting to see what you dig up.  So far all the evidence points to the Remounts being entirely a ‘branch’ of the ASC, with no other competing organisation.  Unfortunately the use of other terms like Service and Department are causing confusion.

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Tom, they’re all officers and that’s significant.  During WW1 nearly all the service support functions were divided between two organisations, one for officers and one for other ranks.  For example the Ordnance Department was officers and the Ordnance Corps other ranks.  The Pay Department officers and the Pay Corps other ranks.  There were others.  I suspect that the Remounts Service was the designation for commissioned officers and the ASC Remounts branch for other ranks.  It will confirm this if you cannot find say a Private or a Corporal under that same Remount Service category as the officers.

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Just now, FROGSMILE said:

Yes it will be interesting to see what you dig up.  So far all the evidence points to the Remounts being entirely a ‘branch’ of the ASC, with no other competing organisation.  Unfortunately the use of other terms like Service and Department are causing confusion.

I'm not sure I completely agree with you that "So far all the evidence points to the Remounts being entirely a ‘branch’ of the ASC, with no other competing organisation."  

  • Two MICs/3 CWGC casualties who are members of the Remount Service but not the ASC
  • John Gaylor's book suggesting the Remount Service was a war-raised unit
  • The Army List suggesting the Remount Service was a unit in its own right reporting directly to the War Office

I'm not fighting for its cause in any way.  Hopefully this is just an investigative journalistic exercise.  I've been trying to get to the bottom of this for a few weeks now!

Thanks for all your help so far and I do hope I'm not being a pest!

Best wishes,

Tom

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1 minute ago, FROGSMILE said:

Tom, they’re all officers and that’s significant.  During WW1 nearly all the service support functions were divided between two organisations, one for officers and one for other ranks.  For example the Ordnance Department was officers and the Ordnance Corps other ranks.  The Pay Department officers and the Pay Corps other ranks.  There were others.  I suspect that the Remounts Service was the designation for commissioned officers and the ASC Remounts branch for other ranks.  It will confirm this if you cannot find say a Private or a Corporal under that same Remount Service category as the officers.

One of them is a C/Sgt but I take your point.  Only the ACD, AOD and APD were still in existence in 1914 and the Dept/Corps model was already out of vogue after the creation of the three "new" amalgamated administrative corps (ASC, RAMC, AVC) and the RAOC following shortly after in 1918.

It's a good theory though and a string I will pull! :D

Thanks,

Tom

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44 minutes ago, Tom P-C said:

One of them is a C/Sgt but I take your point.  Only the ACD, AOD and APD were still in existence in 1914 and the Dept/Corps model was already out of vogue after the creation of the three "new" amalgamated administrative corps (ASC, RAMC, AVC) and the RAOC following shortly after in 1918.

It's a good theory though and a string I will pull! :D

Thanks,

Tom

Yes I’m aware that the change to unified corps was already underway, I’ve been doing this a long time Tom.  I’m not convinced yet that my theory is correct, but it seems a logical solution.  It doesn’t surprise me that there was a colour sergeant, as the Departments generally had a small number of staff sergeants (in the collective HQ ranking sense) and warrant officers.   They were all highly specialised and often professionally qualified.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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53 minutes ago, Tom P-C said:

I'm not sure I completely agree with you that "So far all the evidence points to the Remounts being entirely a ‘branch’ of the ASC, with no other competing organisation."  

  • Two MICs/3 CWGC casualties who are members of the Remount Service but not the ASC
  • John Gaylor's book suggesting the Remount Service was a war-raised unit
  • The Army List suggesting the Remount Service was a unit in its own right reporting directly to the War Office

I'm not fighting for its cause in any way.  Hopefully this is just an investigative journalistic exercise.  I've been trying to get to the bottom of this for a few weeks now!

Thanks for all your help so far and I do hope I'm not being a pest!

Best wishes,

Tom

In answer to this.

point 1.  I’ve already answered in my penultimate post.

point 2.  John Gaylor’s book, excellent though it was, has like Kipling and King been proven to contain a number of errors.

point 3.  The same as the answer to point 1.  The Army list relates to named officers.  Surely it’s referring to a staff branch under the Director Remounts (of which there was also one at each higher formation level HQ).

NB.  I agree that it’s messy and not as clear as it should be.  All three of your subjects were home service only and the kind of dug outs commonly employed at the remount depots.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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See https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.284463/page/n171/mode/2up?q=Remounts page  118 The Royal Army Service Corps: A History of Transport and Supply in the British Army, Volume II by Colonel R H Beadon 1931. Archive.org, Public Library of India Collection.

 

https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2010/01/army-number-prefixes.html Army number prefixes

includes

R - Army Service Corps. Remounts

RS & R/TS - Army Service Corps. Remount Specials

RX - Army Service Corps Army Remount Section

Maureen

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17 hours ago, MaureenE said:

See https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.284463/page/n171/mode/2up?q=Remounts page  118 The Royal Army Service Corps: A History of Transport and Supply in the British Army, Volume II by Colonel R H Beadon 1931. Archive.org, Public Library of India Collection.

 

https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2010/01/army-number-prefixes.html Army number prefixes

includes

R - Army Service Corps. Remounts

RS & R/TS - Army Service Corps. Remount Specials

RX - Army Service Corps Army Remount Section

Maureen

That’s very helpful Maureene and a new line of inquiry.  At the moment it seems as if the Army Remount Service (ARS) might have been a discrete ‘Departmental Corps’ (a la e.g. chaplains) for officers and specially qualified SNCO/WO, who were perhaps engaged on special contracts (i.e. not for general service) and who generally had prior service in other corps.  

Supporting them seems to have been the Remounts ‘Branch’ of the ASC who were the general duties men who’d existed since the 1890s and been the day-to-day men ever since.

Together they seem to have made up the War Office “Remounts Department” under a “Director of Remounts”.

There is insignia for both, but beyond the crown topped Army Remount Service badge being GvR, and thus post 1911, it’s entirely unclear what the discriminations for wear were.  In evidential terms it appears significant that there are cap badges designed specifically for Remounts, but no shoulder titles, an omission that seems unprecedented.  There are CWGC headstones with both, crowned Remount, and ASC badges, and the deceased ARS are all veteran officers and SNCOs re-employed in the way described.

Investigation is ongoing, but stuttering.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Earlier this year there was a thread about the death and commemoration etc. of a Civilian Superintendent [also described as Superintendent of Remounts (Officers' Chargers)] at Sysonby Remount Depot in 1918 - Mr Edward Dennis O'RORKE, a New Zealander.

Mr O'Rorke seems to have been treated as a civilian contractor [so far as I/CWGC were concerned], but likely of some standing at the depot and in elevated society [including with the King's horses and in New Zealand]

Just wondering how he might have fitted into the military remount situation during the war. ???

:-) M

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As an employed civilian not in uniform.  That was not unusual, there were a number of landowners that got involved including one who started a scheme utilising female workers (grooms and riders) to replace men obliged to depart on active service.  He did so on his own initiative and it was so successful that it became official policy, but it would be helpful not to send this thread down a rabbit hole given the intent of the OP.  Perhaps we could discuss it in that original thread if you would like to pursue it?

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1 minute ago, FROGSMILE said:

As an employed civilian not in uniform.  That was not unusual, there were a number of landowners that got involved including one who started a scheme utilising female workers (grooms and riders) to replace men obliged to depart on active service.  He did so on his own initiative and it was so successful that it became official policy, but it would be helpful not to send this thread down a rabbit hole given the intent of the OP.

Thank you for your reply. 

Rabbit hole not intended, and certainly not looking for specific info on the chap here [would be much better in the other thread], just mentioning/looking for some small insight of the sort of organisation that, and how, integrated with the Army as surely to a degree relevant here - the Remounts did not stand wholly alone - just goes to show the flexibility that became absorbed to get the horses out.  Of course not badged as the OP enquiry so I am not intending to further pursue here.  But should the OP care to comment I won't object.

:-) M

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40 minutes ago, Matlock1418 said:

Thank you for your reply. 

Rabbit hole not intended, and certainly not looking for specific info on the chap here [would be much better in the other thread], just mentioning/looking for some small insight of the sort of organisation that, and how, integrated with the Army as surely to a degree relevant here - the Remounts did not stand wholly alone - just goes to show the flexibility that became absorbed to get the horses out.  Of course not badged as the OP enquiry so I am not intending to further pursue here.  But should the OP care to comment I won't object.

:-) M

There are reams of information on the organisation of the Remount horses and the depots through which they moved, some links to which I posted above.  Many of the former locations seem to have done historical pieces to commemorate the part played by their home areas.  You can also find information on the participation of women and landowners involved, a simple google search pulls it up.  What isn’t apparent and what this thread is attempting to find out is the organisational relationship between the Army Remount Service officers and SNCOs on wartime contracts, and those other ranks and functionaries of the regular ASC Remounts Branch.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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