PRINCES RISBOROUGH, England, October 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Many myths had grown up regarding the fate of the British army horses at the end of the Great War and the welfare of the horses throughout the conflict. The Horse Trust commissioned renowned military historian Dr. David Kenyon to research the role of British horses throughout the war years.
Dr. Kenyon's fascinating study dispelled some myths about the fate of our horses after the Armistice and provided new insight into the overall effect the war had on Britain's horse population between 1914 - 1918. The study provided the basis to create a unique exhibit opened on August 14th 2014 as part of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of war.
Since the exhibition was opened to the public the Trust has been searching far and wide for genuine artefacts of the period. It has been difficult, but persistence pays, and recently Horse Trust Chief Executive Jeannette Allen tracked down a pair of heavy horse-lifting boxes that appeared to have been used in the monumental mobilisation and de-mobilisation.
Thankfully the vendor was able to authenticate their provenance. As Anthony Reeve of LASSCO
(London Architectural Salvage and Supply Company) explains "the boxes had come from the Museum of London where LASSCO had helped the Museum of London clear vast stores of non-accessioned collections from the Royal Docks, London. Amongst the anchors, gang-planks and cannon were two large crates - like heavy duty carts without wheels. These were "horse-lifting boxes", rare survivors, originally from the London dockyards. With a door at each end, lifting points at each corner, remains of a padded interior and iron hoops over the top - to prevent a horse rearing."
These sort of boxes offered a much kinder way of lifting horses that would otherwise be hoisted with slings when tides or unsuitable wharves made gang-planks impossible. It was, by any measure, a herculean task. As they set sail for France in 1914 the British Expeditionary Force in France took 165,000 horses, the vast majority of them requisitioned and collected in just twelve days. It was truly a miracle of organisation and co-operation, but one of the greatest challenges of that mobilisation was the ongoing transportation of the horse to the battlefields in France.
The horse lifting boxes were fundamental to getting the horses to France through east London's dockyards. Unlike soldiers horses don't walk up steep gangplanks very easily, this sort of lifting box would be hoisted over the gunwales of a ship by crane and lowered into the hold where horses were stabled. Those same boxes were used in 1918 to bring over 60,000 healthy horses back home through those same docks.
The Horse Trust and LASSCO are both delighted with the acquisition. Jeanette Allen said "There can be no more suitable home for this fascinating piece of history than the Horse Trust's Home of Rest for Horses. This is the charity whose subscribers commissioned the world's first motorised horse Ambulance and presented it to the war office for the use of sick and wounded animals at the front. It is a wonderful addition to our WW1 exhibit and is sure to be appreciated by our many visitors."
Notes to Editors
1. For more information on the press release, please contact Jeanette Allen on +44-(0)1494-488464
2. The Horse Trust, founded in 1886, is the oldest horse charity in the world. Based at Speen, Buckinghamshire, it provides a place of retreat for working horses that have served their country or community and nurtures them throughout their final years. The charity also gives sanctuary to horses, ponies and donkeys that have suffered and need special treatment. The Horse Trust funds non-invasive research that advances knowledge of equine diseases, improving diagnosis and treatment and reducing suffering among equines worldwide. The charity also offers training for professionals and owners, with a focus on equine welfare and quality of life assessment.
3. The Horse Trust depends on the support of the public to look after the horses in their care. It is funded entirely by public donations. It costs the charity an average of GBP 12 per day to look after each horse at the sanctuary. To donate to The Horse Trust, please visit http://www.horsetrust.org.uk or contact the charity on +44-(0)1494-488-464 or email@example.com
4. The exhibition will be on permanent display at The Horse Trust's Home of Rest for Horses in Speen free to view during normal visiting hours as part of the Trust's museum of the history of Britain's Working Horses.
SOURCE The Horse Trust