Demobilization of the War Horses: Vast Number Now in France to be Returned and Sold for Use in Peaceful Pursuits, Daily Racing Form, 1919-01-14


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DEMOBILIZATION OF THE WAR HORSES Vast Number Now in France to Be Returned and Sold for Use- in Peaceful Pursuits. It appears to be a general idea in the mind of civilians that horses in warfare consist only or cavalry horses. This is altogether erroneous. Cavalry horses in modern warfare form proportionately only a small section. The main value of horses lies in their transport and artillery work. It was believed bv many eminent soldiers that owing to the arrival of motor engines the day of the horse in this direction was over, and this belief was not confmed to one country. It was held by individual leaders in Great Britain, in the colonies, in France, in Belgium and in America more especially in America. lou might as well use horses for the fire brigade, instead or motors, as use horses for guns and lorries, was their standpoint. The theory was sound enough, hut like manv theories, practical experience knocked it on the head. Motor traction demands roads to drive on. So long as you have roads motor transport will beat horse-drawn transport. I lie trouble is that in modern warfare, with modern guns, you frequently find yourself without roads. Aliat was a road yesterday has disappeared, leaving a collection of shell holes. Then what is to be done The guns have to be moved, so have .munitions, equipment, and, not least important, food. It is here that the horses come in. They are not dependent on roads. They can get across country and -across ground which no motor could get over. Not in the recent campaign once but a thousand times horses have saved a situation, and there is no general who has served in any army at the front during the last four years who does not enthusiastically take his hat off to the horse. SOME BIG FIGURES. Something of this could surely have been explained bv the authorities, so that credit might be given where credit was so unmistakably due: but the past is past, and the war office has at length thought fit to lift the veil not, bein en-tendu, for the purpose of imparting any touch of romance to the war or in any spirit of. chivalry or desire to offer belated praise, but solely for hard, commercial, business reasons. The time has come, with the end of the war, to begin the work of demobilization of the horses, and this bids fair to prove a gigantic task. It is only when one goes into figures that any idea of its magnitude can be formed. The total number of horses and mules mobilized was 1,552,067. In June, 1917, there were in France alone 4G0.000. The loss in that month from all causes was twenty-eight per cent, tins being the highest average of any month during the war. The average wastage per annum lias been twelve per cent. The scheme for disposing of the surplus animals now in England and in France and Belgium is to grade them into four classes, a those which are sound and between five years and eight years, making twenty-seven per cent of the total; "b those which are sound and are between nine years and twelve years, of which there are forty-four per cent; c those which are sound and are over twelve years, and d those which . are not sound, the two latter classes combined making nineteen per cent of the total. Onlv those which come under the head of a and b will be offered for sale. A considerable number will be wanted for the Army of Occupation and will come home eventually. At present plans have been made to repatriate and distribute for sale all over Great Britain a great many more. The Belgian government is being provided with 50.000 animals to assist in reconstruction. The devastated districts of France will no doubt take an even larger number. As regards sales in the immediate future, there are 25 000 good horses to be put on the market between now and the end of January. I.y that date others will be freed, and sales all over Great Britain will be kept up as required by the public. In the last four years there have been taken from Great Britain seventeen per cent of its w-orking horses, and the war office is ready to put that number back if required. It is estimated that the number of horses imported from other countries and sent to France which will now be brought back reaches 150,000 at least, London Sportsman.

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