Remembering the horses of World War 1

This image of shire horse Hercules was released by Hurst Green Shires on the 100th anniversary of the declaration of World War 1.
This image of shire horse Hercules was released by Hurst Green Shires on the 100th anniversary of the declaration of World War 1.

The stallions from Hurst Green Shires – famous for their annual race day at Lingfield in July – have been participating in World War 1 commemorative events throughout Britain’s South East in recent days.

Premium stallion Hercules is directly descended from a pair of Shire brothers who were taken from the land in Tandridge in 1914 and sent to France. They never came back.

Julie Reilly from Hurst Green Shires said more than a million horses were taken to the battlefields of WW1, and it is estimated that 65 to 75 percent did not return. “There were more horses lost at Passchendaele than men”.

“We’re spreading the message about the policy of requisition of horses from the land, here in the UK and also in the USA, Canada and Australia. These animals were shipped in large numbers to remount centres before heading off to France where they did everything from pulling supply wagons and ambulances, to hauling the heavy guns right in the thick of battle,” she said.

“Their manes, tails and coats were clipped to keep down disease and they were on food rations like the men. They served shoulder to shoulder with the men.

“So for those who had no choice … we remember them.”

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