YP Letters: Please remember the horses and animals that served in Great War

From: Petra Ingram, Chief Executive, Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys.

A bugler sounds the Last Post next to a wooden sculpture of a First World War horse in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral in Kent following a service of dedication for their Field of Remembrance. Films lie War Horse have highlighted the sacrifices that animals made during the Great War.

THIS week, people up and down the UK will remember the soldiers from the British Armed Forces that served in the First World War, honouring the service they gave and the lives tragically lost. This year is particularly poignant, as it marks 100 years since the end of the conflict. What many people don’t realise is that alongside the six million soldiers who left the UK to fight in the war were a million horses, donkeys and mules, conscripted from hundreds of thousands of British families. As some of the biggest and strongest animals that took part, chosen for their courage, strength and loyalty, they carried our cavalry, munitions, supplies and of course, our wounded. 

One of our supporters, Anna who now lives in Spain, told us about her great uncle, Joseph Carling from Pateley Bridge, who served as a private in the 1st/5th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. One day he was sent out with a fellow soldier and two mules to find food supplies. Suddenly, the mules stopped walking and began to dig their hooves into the ground. A military vehicle drove down the road ahead of them and exploded. Joseph thanked those mules for saving his life as he would have walked over the bomb himself had they not stopped.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Brooke is a legacy of the First World War, originally set up to help the war horses that were sold into hard labour in Egypt after the war. We have now grown to become a global working equine welfare charity, improving the lives of horses, donkeys and mules all over the world. 

At Brooke, we’re inviting animal lovers to join us for Every Horse Remembered Month, to remember the equine heroes that gave service and sacrifice. You can hold your own remembrance moment for horses at home, at a place important to you or even at your local cenotaph if you have permission. Through November you can also wear an Every Horse Remembered pin badge alongside your remembrance poppy, as horses, donkeys and mules were alongside soldiers on the battlefield. Join us at thebrooke.org/everyhorse and use #EveryHorseRemembered on social media to share your messages and photos. 

In total, eight million horses, donkeys and mules died during WW1, many from the harsh environments they worked in. 100 million of these animals still work around the world today, supporting people’s livelihoods. By joining us to highlight the struggle of horses of the past, we can create better lives for those living and working now and in the future.