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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Horse Blankets


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First of all thanks for letting me in.  Just a brief intro.  My late Grandfather was a professional soldier at the start of WW1.  He was a trooper in the 4th Irish Dragoons.  He went to France with the first troops despite being slightly underage and was part of the patrol that fired the first shots at Casteau and when he died in 1990 was the last witness to those shots.  He went on to serve the whole of the war on the western front and in Germany in 1919.

He ended up as horse Orderly to General Adrian Carton de Wiart VC and herein lies the nub of my question.

I inherited a horse blanket when my mum died that she inherited from Grandad.  The family story is that it was gifted to him by the general although as it spent most of its life under a mattress I'm not sure gifted is entirely true!  As it has no identifying marks on it I was hoping that someone could at least give me some confirmation that this is possible.  I suspect its not standard issue as it is quite a fine piece of work edged in red ribbon.

I am looking at donating it to either the IWM or the regimental museum so it can be preserved.

Any info appreciated.






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Out of curiosity, does the blanket have any straps or fittings to enable it to be kept in place on the horse? If not, it is possibly a horse saddle blanket. It would be interesting to know what the blanket is made from and whether wool to keep the horse warm or made from a waterproof material?  

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No straps but it is shaped at the neck, it's a saddle blanket so held on by the girth and saddle.  It's lined and quite fine fabric so I suspect a private purchase rather than an issue item.  Carton de Wiart VC was Britain's most decorated soldier and Irish aristocracy so could have afforded it.  He fought in the Boer, first and second World wars I'm guessing the red edging denotes a staff officer.

You can read more about my grandfather Iin the book "Tickled to death to go" (re-issued as "Teenage Tommy"  for the centenary)  by Richard Van Emden.  Richard spent a lot of time with my grandfather just before his death drawing out his memories. 

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I guess this must be either a horse exercise cover or a show cover. Normally, exercise covers or rugs are intended to either keep the horse warm or dry during exercise but I'm not sure the material described fits into either of these two categories. That might therefore make it a show cover but it is very plain in design and it is very hard to see this being used for any military ceremonial purposes.


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The issue British saddle blanket was a brown or grey wool blanket, very similar in appearance to a bed blanket. It was folded to fit under the saddle. Yours is a private purchase saddle cloth. What are the dimensions?

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