Horses in WW1 - Key facts

11 April 2019

Shows around the First World War have become very popular in recent days. World War One was a war which had many technological advances; it had aircrafts, tanks, bombs and poison gas that were used for the first time in battle. However, if you look behind all the modern machinery you will see stood a humble horse which was providing the backbone to vast logistical operations for both sides.  

During World War One, the British Army deployed more than a million horses and mules. When the war was going on there weren’t enough horses in Britain to meet the demand. A thousand horses were brought in from North America where there was a plentiful supply of wild horses on the open plains. Horses were proven essential in the war, but they were used for many different ways as the war progressed.

Different ways horses were used in WW1

The British Army in 1918 used horses for many different ways such as:

  • Supply horses
  • Supply mules
  • Riding Horses
  • Gun Horses
  • Cavalry

In November 1918, half of the British Army’s horses were located in France. The others were spread across the Middle East, Italy and Egypt. Supply horses and mules were used to move ammunition, general supplies and ambulances. The riding horses were used on the frontline and ridden by the soldiers. Teams of gun horses pulled artillery that most likely weighed more than a car.

The British Army provided 2,978,301 tons of oats and 2,460,301 tons of hay during the conflict. By November 1918, there were nearly 19,000 men serving in the remount department of the British army, preparing horses to be sent to war across three continents.

During the war, horses were so important that over 1,300 officers served as veterinary surgeons across all theatres of war. There were also more than 27,000 men serving in the army veterinary corps who supported the medical treatment of horses.

On average the British Army lost 15% of its horses every year. It was surprising that just a quarter of horse deaths were caused by enemy action. The biggest killer of the horses was a condition caused by exposure to the elements, hunger and illness.

Come and see the story of a War Horse!

War horse London theatre performance is being played at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre.  The performance is based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo. The war horse London theatre tickets are available on at KX tickets.

Looking for a moving and imaginative drama show in London? Come and join us to watch War Horse in London theatre. Book your tickets now!