Photograph of 'Bill', British Artillery Horse, served 1914 - 1919
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|Title||Photograph of 'Bill', British Artillery Horse, served 1914 - 1919|
|Notes||One of the Best Bill 47th Bty 2nd Div 1914, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 - WWI British Artillery Horse'.|
This poignant photograph is of Bill, a veteran British artillery horse who served faithfully with the 47th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery, 2nd Division from 1914-1919. Presumably, he was one of the few horses to survive the entire campaign.
His back is covered with the characteristic scars of harness galls where his hide was rubbed raw from hours spent in sweaty, ill-fitting harness, and the hair has grown back in white. Also, his left hind ankle appears to have sustained a severe injury and as result, his leg is unable to bear his weight.
This picture of Bill might have been taken somewhere in France or Germany after the Armistice was signed. One hopes that someone took pity on him and took him home after demobilization.
It is estimated that on the Western Front alone over 256,000 horses and mules lost their lives while in the service of the British military, and untold MILLIONS perished on all sides during The War to End All Wars.
When the war was over the standard and poor quality British animals were either auctioned off at rock-bottom prices to spend the rest of their lives in slavery or were sold to French butchers, a terrible fate given the services these brave animals had performed.
There were, however, some happy endings. Four officers clubbed together funds to purchase and then ensure a peaceful retirement for a horse called David. This extraordinary animal had served when a youngster in the Boer War. As a veteran on the Western Front, David served every day without fail except for the one occasion he was wounded.
|Creation place||Probably France or Germany|
|Item medium||Photographic paper|
|Copyright||The Great War Archive, University of Oxford / Primary Contributor|
|Digital repository||The Great War Archive, University of Oxford|
|Contributor Name||Rebecca Libby|