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(RAVC) ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS WW1
This page is dedicated to those that served in the (RAVC) British Royal Army Veterinary Corps in WW 1. If you would like to post your relative who served in the British Army Veterinary Corps please email me. You can post just a name or name and a picture or I can give you a page where you will be able to post pictures and write about your relative. Because I cannot cover the Veterinary Corps of all Nation on my website I am hoping that you will be able to help me to do this. I am open to anyone who would like to post information on the Royal British Army Veterinary Corps in WW 1 on this page.
ARMY MEDICAL SERVICE MUSEUM RAVC HISTORY
Keogh Barracks, Aldershot, GU12 5RQ
History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. Note: I very nice condensed history of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.
Click on the below link:
History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps
RESEARCHING RECORDS FOR THE ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS WW1 (RAVC)
Note: I receive requests all the time from people seeking military records for their love ones who were in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC). It always breaks my heart not to have a good answer for these questions. Working on the U.S. Army Veterinary Service has consumed most of my time and limits research of other nations. There is nothing more important to me that to help people learn about their relatives that were in the veterinary corps of all nations. At one time I was able to refer those seeking for information to an acquaintance, but that resource is no longer available. Looking through my notes mainly from Susan Wilson who has done extensive research on her great grandfather Walter Jarman who served at No.1 Convalescent Horse Depot, British Expeditionary Force, France during WW1.
Susan claims that the National Records Office at Kew is where they keep regimental records. She also told me she discovered the location of No.1 Convalescent Horse Depot where her great grandfather served at the Archives and the Commanding Officer's official War diary for the depot, which was a great source of information. She said it was interesting to learn that is was very clear horses were being moved in and out of the depot every day, some were killed, some sold at auction and some appear to have been sold to butchers! She had only read up to May 1916 and then skipped to see if the depot remained at the same place for the duration of the war but found that on 30/05/1918 it was evacuated so that the French army could move in and 1CHD then moved to Bellozanne which seems to be in Jersey.
The National Archives
Surrey TW9 4DU
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8876 3444
Click on the below link:
The National Archives Kew
Click on "menu" for records.
She also has learned that the British Remount Depots were actually run by the ASC (Army Service Corps) not by the AVC. The Remounts Service was responsible for the provisioning of horses and mules to all other army units. It was not a large part of the ASC, amounting to only four Remount Squadrons in 1914 that ran 4 Remount Depots in the United Kingdom. A Remount Squadron consisted of approximately 200 soldiers, who obtained and trained 500 horses. A Base Remount depot (with 2,600 animals) and two Advanced Remount Depots (300 each) went to France with the original British Expeditionary Force. As the campaign continued, two further Base Remount Depots opened at the base ports.
At the peak in December 1917, these facilities were training a total of 93,847 horses and 36,613 mules.
Animals were obtained by compulsory purchase in the United Kingdom and by purchasing from North and South America, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, India and China. As the army expanded, several more ASC Remount Squadrons were established. No ASC Remount personnel went to the Middle East theatres, all of the requirement being fulfilled by similar units of the Indian Army. I am doing more research the old fashioned way i.e. by looking at books written after the war.
I hope the above information will be inspiring and helpful in your search and research for information on those who served in the veterinary corps.
NOTE: We desperately need your help in providing information for those who are searching for military records. Please contact me – Greg Krenzelok – U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group
NOTE: Andy Smerdon comments on the ASC and AVC: The bit about the ASC and AVC running the remounts is a bit misleading Greg...it was mostly a joint effort with members of both units at depots and matching the skills of both... often the health care done by AVC with training by ASC..Graham Winton,s book " Theres Not to Reason Why" is the newest and best book on the subject..
THERES NOT TO REASON WHY: HORSING THE BRITISH ARMY 1875-1925
By Graham Winton
Click on the below link:
Theres Not to Reason Why by Graham Winton
SEARCH BRITISH ARMY SERVICE RECORDS 1760-1915
Click on the below link:
British Army Service Records 1760-1915
THE BRITISH ARMY VETERINARY CORPS IN THE GREAT WAR OF 1914-1918
List of units.
Click on the below link:
The British Army Veterinary Corps in the Great War of 1914-1918
ARMY SERVICE CORPS WW1
I have attached a postcard from my post card collection. Army Service Corps WW1.
Regards, Lynn Holmes
Thought you might like this. Bought this the same time as the ASC Postcard. So proud of this postcard. Regards Lynn.
Hi Greg, sharing this postcard with you. - Lynn
Thanks Lynn! - Greg
ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS (RAVC) VIDEO NEWSREEL WW1
Welcome to “British Pathé” Website The world's finest news and entertainment video film archive
Click on the below link:
Click on the below link for AVC Newsreel WW1:
WALTER JARMAN NO 1 CONVALESCENT HORSE DEPOT (RAVC) WW1
Walter Jarman served in British Army Veterinary Corps in WW 1. Walter was with the No 1 Convalescent Horse Depot in France during the war and is being posted by his great granddaughter Susan Wilson
Please Click on the below link
CALEB CHARLES BRITCHFORD (RAVC) WW1
My grandad Caleb & Aunt Joyce C 1918
Whilst searching for info on my Grandfathers history in WW1 I came across your site. Which I found very interesting, thankyou. My Grandfather, Caleb Charles Britchford enlisted in 1914 and was put into the AVC where he stayed until January 1918 when he was transferred into the East Kent Regiment (The Buffs), He was killed in action on Sept 19th 1918 at Fresnoy La Petite.
I have got plenty of info on his time in The Buffs, but very little on time served in the AVC, other than that he served time in 1/2 Mob Vet Section and at Number 2 Vet. Hospital.
Other than those facts I have no idea of where either of those locations were. Other than Caleb was drafted to France early in 1915 after finishing his training in the UK.
I was hoping you may have come across mention of either of these places in your research. If so I would be very grateful for any information. The photos in your collection were a pleasure to see. I have sent the only picture of my Grandad that I have. This was taken in January 1918 at the time of his transfer to the Buffs. The young girl with him is my late Aunt. My Mother was born two weeks after Caleb was killed.
Yours, Malcolm Poulton
WILLIAM RICHARD MOORE (RAVC) WW1
William Richard Moore, WW1
William Richard Moore sitting at the front on the left.
My husband’s grandfather was in the RAVC but in England!!! I have just noticed that you research the US army veterinary corps. Would you know anything about the British side?
His name is William Richard Moore b. 1874 in Cornwall. I have his service number, which is SE 8038, and we have his medals. I have written to the RCVS Trust here but they cant help me. I didn’t really think they would be able to but it was worth a try.
I have been told its possible that he could have served with another regiment other than the Veterinary corps but as i can't find his service records anywhere i really don’t know.
Can you help?
Note: If anyone can help Mary please contact her - Greg K.
JOHN NICHOLAS HALL, (RAVC), WW1
John Nicholas Hall, A.V.C. 207 July 1916
John Nicholas Hall, A.V.C. 207 and F. Wood AVC 194 July 1916.
I found your site just by chance, and hope you may be able to help me with information.
One of my Uncles served with the AVC during WW1, but I have not had any luck finding out any information about him or his service. My uncle was born in Newbrough, Northumberland, in 1898.
All I have is 2 photos, which I have scanned and forwarded.
The first one is my uncle John Nicholas Hall, and the only information I have is what is written on the back of the photo: J.N. Hall. A.V.C. 207 July 1916.
The second one is J.N. Hall AVC 207 and F. Wood AVC 194 July 1916.
If you are able to find anything about Uncle John, I would be so grateful.
Note: If anyone can help Beverley please contact me for Beverley's email address - Greg K.
CHARLES WILLIAM FREAKES (RAVC) WW1
I have started to research my maternal grandfather, Charles William Freakes, and have come upon a photo where the uniform seems out of character for a British soldier.I have his service medals (one with SE 44044 on the reverse side) and I understand he volunteered on the outbreak of war so he could enlist with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and work with horses. As a child I was told how he saved the life of a horse 'Polly' while serving in France. The horse had been injured with shafts from a gun carriage and he was allowed to keep Polly for the duration of the war. I also have two horse teeth which makes me think the horse did not return to its previous owner. Can you throw any light on the attached image, it has Mr Freakes, Keston Mark (Kent, England) on the reverse. He enlisted as a private and returned as a sergeant to a Mr H. B. Legge at Baston Manor, Hayes Kent. He worked with horses and also as a gardener. So far I have been unable to find out any of his service details.
Note: If anyone can help Marilyn please contact me - Greg K.
SGT. FREDERICK CHARLES CHILDS, BRITISH ARMY VETERINARY CORPS (RAVC) WW1
In the attached picture of the 3 Sgt's, my Grandfather, Sgt Frederick Charles Childs, on the left of the picture, served in Army Veterinary Corp, and sometime during 1916 -1917, he was awarded The Military Medal. I am not exactly sure what he did to earn the MM. as his records, along with many others were destroyed during the blitz in WW2. Family history passed down by word of mouth, was that he was awarded The MM for recovering horses whilst under shellfire. I do not know who the other 2 are by the way.
Of course, there is no way now? of confirming this, just wondered if any one had anything relevant?
David R Childs
RICHARD CHARLES GEORGE JONES (RAVC) WW1
Richard Jones on the right with colleagues in Italy probably around 1917 to 1918 when they were attached to the 23rd Battalion MGC
October 21, 2013
My grandfather was Richard Charles George Jones. He served in the Army Veterinary Corps number 8485 attached to the 23rd Machine Gun Battalion. Having fought through Belgium and France the division ended up in Italy at Veneto. The picture of my grandfather with his colleagues is actually taken in Italy. I would assume the spare horse is an extra amount. My grandfather had trained as a jockey before the war and was apprentice at Tom Cannons stables in Danebury and Stockbridge from the age of thirteen years and nine months. Tom Cannon was a renowned jockey and trainer during the late 1800s and early 1900s and is the great-grandfather of Lester Pigott.
After the conflict my grandfather became trainer to Sir William Waldron at Winkfield near Ascot and trained many winners. One of the pictures I have scanned and sent is him in more restful peaceful times gazing across the gallops at Winkfield. The picture of him with a colleague clearly shows his own Cap Badge and the Badge of the Machine Gun Corps on the adjacent soldier. My grandfather's brother William won the DCM at Hooge while serving with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. He was subsequently transferred into the Machine Gun Corps and was killed on 16 September 1916 aged 22. I am sending the scans separately as I seem unable to do so from my iPad. I hope this may be of interest and add a little more to the history of the AVC .My grandfather rarely spoke of the conflict but as he had a great love of horses (from the age of 13 ) he said the suffering he saw was terrible and the carnage horrendous.
If this is of interest please let me know how I can send a copy of the photo and additional details.
Richard Jones on the right with a colleague from MGC. Note the cap badges.
Richard Jones looking smart as a corporal.
Richard Jones on the gallops as a trainer after the war at Winkfield , Ascot. The old stables and grounds are now owned by the Royal Berkshire Polo Club.
PRIVATE SYDNEY CECIL COLLINS, ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS (RAVC) WW1
Pvt. Sydney Cecil Collins in uniform during WW1
Sydney Cecil Collins
October 8, 2014
I have come across your page by accident!
I actually did not know it was the Royal Arm Veterinary Corp!
My Father Sydney Cecil Collins was a Private in the Army Veterinary Corp. Details SE 20655 taken from his medals the card for which I have found online. What I cannot find is how long was he in the AVC and where was his regiment during the war? He told me and my step-sister that he was invalided out with flat feet!! I enclose two photos the second one according to my friend's Father is the uniform worn by someone who was an invalid?
If someone can provide any details I would really like to hear from them. I have searched Ancestry over and over again, I imagine like a lot of people and hit a lot of brick walls!
HARRY PLESTER ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS (RAVC) WW1
Harry Plester during the Great War is on the right.
August 18, 2014
I found your website while looking for information with regards to my Grandfather,
I have researched on Ancestry for information but only found a Medals Record Card and nothing to confirm address etc.
Not sure if you may be able to help in anyway? Or even direct me elsewhere?
I have a photograph that I found amongst my late fathers papers which I have attached. Harry is on the right as you look at the picture.
Harry Plester was born on 4th June 1894 and in 1911 he was residing at 74 Moat Road Walsall.
His Parents were Henry and Elizabeth Plester.
Harry died in 1961.
Perhaps someone might be able to identify his uniform or have any information that might be helpful please contact Greg.
Would like to find out as my daughter is now a vet!
Many thanks again.
Linda (Plester) Darby
HORACE WILD ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS (RAVC) WW1
Horace Wild, Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) WW1.
Gawin and Matilde circa 1918 (2)
January 19, 2015
I came across your website whilst doing some research on my grandfather, his name was Horace Wild and served with the RAVC during WW1. I have a couple of photographs of him in uniform which I am more than willing to share with you along with what little I have been able to find out about him is mentioned below.
With his two elder brother's having already enlisted in the 18th Tyneside Irish Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, Horace was eager to join them. On the 21st January 1915 he travelled from his home at Littletown, Hallgarth, Durham to the Gateshead Recruitment Office and enlisted with the 3rd Tynside Irish Battalion, 26th (Service) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusillers and was known as Pte. 26/1347 Horace Wild.
His parents were concerned about the disappearance of their younger son and contacted the local recruitment office to enquire if he had sign up for "King & Country". After several months they were informed that he had in fact enlisted and had stated that he was 16 years old. Unfortunately Horace was under age (15 years 5 Months) and was discharged on the 2nd July 1915 after several months training.
When he arrived home he was very angry and told his parents that as soon as he was old enough he was going to sign up again. On his 16th birthday, 5 July 1915 he made his way back to the recruitment office where he was enlisted into the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. He was chosen to join this unit as the result of his experience of working with ponies at Sherburn Colliery and was now known as Pte. TT/02534 Horace Wild.
I would like to find out where he did his training and did he serve abroad during WW 1 and would appreciate if you could point me in the right direction. I have tried on several occasions to log into the National Records Office with no success.
JOHN THOMAS METCALFE ROYAL ARMY VETERINARY CORPS (RAVC) WW1
A family photo in about 1915 John Thomas Metcafe (center) in military dress home on leave.
I have been looking on your Rootsweb page about the RAVC in WW1. My great grandfather was in the AVC although I know he didn’t go to France (too old) and he survived the war. I have several war photos of him but have not been able to find his records in the archives. (my suspicion is that they are in the burnt papers.) Never mind. I think these photos could be useful to others as they have an address which depot they were taken.
On the back of one of these postcard photos is written the words Pte Metcalfe 25672 AVC Depot, Woolwich and lower down, Pte Metcalfe 25672, Royal Army Vet. Corps, East lane Divi, vet hosp, Scarisbrick Hall, Ormskirk.
There is also one other photo that is not here of some Amateur Dramatics also written on the back are the words AVC Scarisbrick Hall.
Please see attached document for photos and details.
John Thomas Metcafe seated in the front. I have no information as to the other soldiers.
On parade! John Thomas Metcafe is 3rd from the left
John Thomas Metcafe with a warhorse.
A VETERINARY HISTORY OF THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA, 1899-1902
By Major General F. Smith, late Director General, British Army Veterinary Service. Originally published by H. & W. Brown, 20 Fulham Road, S. W. London.
A book review 1920.
Understanding the War in South Africa from an Army Veterinary prospective
Source: 1920 5-26 Vol.3 No.2 U.S. Veterinary Corps Bulletin
Note Boer Wars: The first when the Boers fought England in order to regain the independence they had given up to obtain British help against the Zulus (1880-1881); the second when the Orange Free State and Transvaal declared war on Britain (1899-1902)
The history is a single volume containing 310 pages and is, so far as we know, the most complete veterinary war history that has been written to date. The animal transportation and mounted troops played a most important part in this war and the handling and care of the animals contributed greatly to the success or failure of the various operations, as evidenced by the following statement taken from the Preface: The starvation of the horses on the Modder River probably prolonged the war by two years for had this appalling loss not occurred the campaign might have ended at Bloemfontein".
It is a common axiom that "history repeats itself". To read the Forward and Preface of this volume is only to see the same difficulties and obstructions that prevailed during the organization of our corps during the late World War. The conditions that confronted the British in South Africa and those that were confronted by our Veterinary Corps both in the United States and France are so similar that it reads more like a fairy tale than true history.
In view of these circumstances and as a matter of interest the "FOREWORD" written by Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood in 1914 and the "PREFACE" to the book are quoted almost in intact here:
"The interesting work by Major General F. Smith is a severe though just indictment of a nation which prides itself on its love of horses.
It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the study of this book by all army officers and especially by those of the mounted branches and staff officers, at the present day and in the future. Although the facts disclosed, quoted from official documents, make painful reading, there is, however, everything gained by the publication of avoidable failures in Army administration.
The author quotes cases of gross mismanagement during the Crimea War. In one instance 6000 pack horses were kept idle in Bulgaria, only one and a half day's sail from the Army, which was without transport, and with a purblind economy the pack horses were so insufficiently fed that when after great delay they were disembarked at Balaclava, they were in a moribund condition.
The author is writing on the ill-treatment of animals, so does not mention the fatal results to human life caused by this neglect of horses. There were supplies in Balaclava, both for man and beast, but there was no means of transporting them to the Front, a distance of eight miles. If the 6000 pack horses had been landed when in working condition, they would certainly have saved the lives of many of the 18,000 soldiers who died in hospital, for in the Crimea there were scarcely any medicines and no medical comforts.
I am satisfied that if our young officers, some of whom are possibly as ignorant of horses and their treatment as I am, would seek the professional advice of our brother officers in the Army Veterinary Department, the sufferings of animals and the appalling loss of equine life, such as occurred in South Africa, would in the future campaigns be greatly diminished".
The war in South Africa, 1899-1902, was, above all, remarkable for the loss of animal life. No detailed consideration of this has hitherto been attempted, yet the subject is one of vast economical and imperial importance. We suffered a dead loss of 326,000 horses, 51,000 mules and 195,000 oxen. This represents a money value of over sixteen and a quarter million sterling. These figures only apply to animals paid for out of the public purse; there were in addition tens of thousands of horses and other stock, the property of the enemy, which came into our hands and similarly perished. Moreover, the above figures relate only to the period ending 31st May, 1902. Some thousands more would have to be added if the loss incurred in freeing the country from diseases after the war were included.
There are three distinct branches of the Service involved in our inquiry:
1. That concerned in inflicting the loss.
2. The one whose duty it was to replace it.
3. That engaged for the purpose of repairing it.
Following this order a summary of this history may conveniently be expressed as follows:
The horse-disasters in the South African War are divided in two periods: the first extended from October, 1899, to December, 1900; the second, from January, 1901 to May, 1902.
In the first period the losses were brought about by our own actions. A ration scale for animals so low as to be opposed to all experience, had been approved by Sir Redvers Buller, and was relentlessly enforced in the face of every representation made by Commanding Officers and the Principal Veterinary Officer. On this scale the horses lost condition and were ill-prepared to face the actual starvation, to which they were exposed in the Orange Free State during the months of February to March, 1900. Owing to these two causes the trained horses of the cavalry and artillery under Lord Roberts disappeared in a month. The loss had to be made good by employing hopelessly unfit, unconditioned, untrained, leg-weary horses, taken straight off the ship, sent into the field and similarly underfed. With every successive forward rush between Bloemfontein and Koomati-Poort these were killed off by thousands, and their places taken by material equally unfit and unstable. The losses from starvation during the Paardeberg Campaign are the pivot on which all the subsequent wastage up to December, 1900, is centered. They rendered the Depots of the Remount Department bankrupt, and initiated a series of horse-disasters without parallel in war. The country was strewn with thousands of dead, dying, exhausted and sick horses, scattered far and wide, and with no one to collect and look after them. Week by week and month by month the number of dead and ineffectives showed no diminution, for there was no opportunity of retrieving the original error. The starvation of the horses on the Modder River probably prolonged the War by two years, for had this appalling loss not occurred the campaign might have ended at Bloemfontein."
"In the second or guerrilla stage of the war, the losses were due to the policy of employing untrained and unconditioned horses for the hardest work which army animals can be called upon to perform. This grave evil was accentuated by an insufficient ration, and by the employment of a large body of men for mounted duties who were untrained to the care of horses.
In the interests of the horses and humanity only one thing was possible during this stage of the campaign, and that was cessation of work until the animals in the Field and Remount Depots were conditioned, and sufficient food-stuffs collected to allow them a working ration. Only the practical horsemaster understands what is meant by the word "condition"; it is not identical in draught and riding animals, for the letter require a longer and different preparation to render them "fit". The basis of "condition" in both classes of horses is food and work; This was apparently not understood by the Staff, whose ignorance of animal management is frequently referred to in the pages of this history.
Whether such cessation of work was possible, and whether better results would not have been obtained by allowing columns a sufficient interval for rest and recuperation between operations, are questions of a political and military nature which do not fall to this history for discussion.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the Commander-in-Chief overestimated the available animal energy in unfit and underfed horses, and under-estimated the length of time necessary for conditioning them. There are few who realize that the troop horse carries a weight equivalent to that of two men.
We submit that in the Transvaal and free State operations, half the strength employed would have done the work in a shorter time, had the horses been fit and well fed. To bring the enemy to action it was essential to gallop them down. On no single occasion during the guerilla war was this accomplished on a large scale.
The Cape Colony operations appear to us to be on a different footing; political necessities demanded that a handful of men - - with everything in their favor - - should be chased by thousands over a vast area. If this had to be repeated it is doubtful whether the losses would be very much less than they were in 1901-02. Motor traction for conveying the needful forage supply might alter matters to some extent, but as yet we are practically ignorant of the employment of this class of transport over trackless wastes such as are found in the Karoo.
In both stages of the war the standard of horsemastership in the regular forces was indifferent or bad, excepting in the artillery, where it was of a high order.
With the sudden destruction of the trained horses of the cavalry and artillery in the early days of 1900, the first real trouble of the Remount Department began. It had taken the Field without organization, but charged with everything connected with the provision and replacement of Army horses and mules, and even the control of their veterinary treatment. The combined overwork and starvation in the Paardeberg campaign shook it to its foundation, and from this strain it never recovered, as no time was available for recuperation. We shall see that at its inception it started by importing horses instead of buying the acclimatized conditioned and hardy animals of the country. Further, that it actually employed its Remount Depots to receive the sick, lame and otherwise diseased animals from the Front, though warned beforehand by the Veterinary Service that such a step must result in infecting the remount horses.
Remounts and war-worn horses by thousands, freely affected with mange and glanders – the seriousness of which diseases was not recognized by the Remount authorities – were returned to Remount Depots and farms to recuperate. We shall see to what appalling disasters this policy led. The story reads like a romance, and is only equaled by the astonishing history of the "Protection Horses".
In order to save forage the Remount Department urged and carried out the destruction of the trained debilitated troop horse; it did not appear to realize that when restored to health this horse was worth a dozen soft, untrained remounts off shipboard.
One of the earliest complaints made by the Remount against the Veterinary Service – and now embodied in a Parliamentary Paper – was to the effect that the Veterinary Department would not destroy a sufficient number of wrecks of war.
The Remount Service did not possess the elements of an effective organization. The Staff consisted almost wholly of inexperienced, untrained, and sometimes unsatisfactory, officers. There was no hope of better results until some radical changes were made; this was carried out in the middle of 1900, by placing a veterinary officer in-charge of a Remount Depot. He brought into existence a new system, and thereby effected a revolution in management. The "Eassie system" of remount depot became the pattern for South Africa, and the future wars.
By force of circumstances the Remount Department took over generally the Farriery branch of the service; the regimental system of shoeing broke down in the early part of the war, although it was continued for a year. The Remount Department incidentally stepped into the breach; it shod every horse that was issued, and by the time the animal needed shoeing again, he was often back in their hands for debility. On being restored he was again shod and issued. We are, of course, only speaking broadly; some shoeing was done regimentally where farriers existed, but it was hopelessly inadequate.
We may now turn to the Department whose function it was to repair the animal wastage of the war. The Veterinary Service had been kept at such a low point that expansion on mobilization was impossible; its establishment did not even meet the requirements of peace conditions. Immediately after the war broke out no officers were left at home and there was no reserve. Fifty officers were required on mobilization in addition to the peace establishment; these had to be supplied by engaging young civilian practitioners with no training in military veterinary work, and no experience of military discipline. There were actually in the Field four distinct Veterinary Organizations, only two of which were coordinated; the utility of the other two was practically nil.
The organization laid down for the Veterinary Service in the Field was of a retrograde character. It placed the sick horses in Remount Depots, the Service itself under laymen, and the important advance depots of veterinary stores under a Farrier Sergeant. It is difficult to believe that, as an Army, we had had any experience of war.
For many months there were only two accredited administrative veterinary officers in the Field, and one of these being shut up in Ladysmith his service was lost to the Field Artillery. The authorities refused to create additional appointments, so that the Veterinary Service was left without organization, the executive officers without supervision or an experienced hand to direct their efforts, and commanders with no senior officer responsible for the veterinary duties of their command, or to whom they could look for technical advice.
There were no hospitals for the treatment of the sick until some were borrowed from the Government of India after hostilities began, and there was not a single subordinate belonging to the Veterinary Service.
The troops possessed a bare minimum of veterinary stores, calculated to last three months, and with no reserve. The absence of a reserve of medical and surgical material was at once felt. The medical stores provided a constant hand-to-mouth struggle. The surgical stores were at no time, while the war lasted, anything like sufficient, for they had to be manufactured after the campaign opened, and the time thus lost could never be made good owing to the heavy demands.
Is it any wonder then that the Veterinary Service, deficient of all the essentials of organization for war, was impotent for work? Its organization began in Africa, and was built up piece by piece in the face of the opposition. It had first to be separated from the Remount Service. Its civilian professional staff - - outnumbering the regular by four to one - - had, as far as possible, to be trained. Its subordinate personnel for hospitals had to be picked up anywhere and everywhere, and then trained. Hospital had to be created out of such materials as could be found, and frequently to be placed in the charge of civilians who had no knowledge of how to conduct them, and with no authority over the personnel.
The pages of this History set forth in detail an account of the difficulties and chaos resulting from disadvantages such as no other branch of the army experienced during the war. Every effort made to establish itself on a working basis was met by the reply that this was unnecessary, as the war might end tomorrow. We look in vain in the pages of this history for any serious indication on the part of the authorities that they recognized the function, duties and potential value of an efficient Veterinary Service. The means of organizing, administering and coordinating its efforts by a sufficiency of administrative officers was denied it. A definite conception of its technical duties was thus withhold, and with it the life and vitality which, under stress, only its own senior officers can impart. The misconception that anything is good enough for a horse lies at the root of this folly, and is as much wanting in farseeing self-interest as it is in humanity, considering the part that animals must always play in war.
It is satisfactory to record that since the campaign ended, recognition of the Veterinary Service has secured for it a hopeful future of utility.
Major General F. Smith, late Director General, British Army
London, July, 1914
Andy Smerdon has a very nice website called “HistoryHorse” that you need to checkout.
Click on the below is a link to his website:
A description of the website: History Horse is a small, unique display whose aim is to provide the public an insight into the role animals have played in history. We are a complete package with our own animals, transport, and equipment. The main periods of history we cover are from the 18th century, up to the Second World War. We can cover other periods, or topics out of our normal subjects with a little advance warning and discussion. We also cooperate with other groups and displays and can help provide additional performers and displays as the need arises. We are based in southeast England and can travel down to Cornwall, or as far north as the Scottish border. We also have traveled overseas to France and Belgium.
If you have questions Andy has told me that he will try to answer any question on the British Army Veterinary Corps.
Return to The Army Veterinary Service During the Great War, WW1 homepage:
THE ARMY VETERINARY SERVICE DURING THE GREAT WAR, WW1
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The Army Veterinary Service During the Great War, WW1
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SERGEANT LEONARD MURPHY VETERINARY HOSPITAL NO. 18, A.E.F., WW1
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Sergeant Leonard Murphy Veterinary Hospital No. 18, A.E.F., WW1
POLK COUNTY WISCONSIN THOSE THAT SERVED IN WW1
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Polk County Wisconsin in WW1
FORT ORD U.S. ARMY STATION VETERINARY HOSPITAL (HORSE) WW2
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Fort Ord U.S. Army Station Veterinary Hospital (Horse) WW2
11TH CAVALRY PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, 1919 TO 1940
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11th Cavalry Presidio of Monterey, 1919 to 1940
76TH FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, 1922 TO 1940
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76th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Battalion
U.S. ARMY VETERINARY CORPS HISTORICAL PRESERVATION GROUP
Motto: “Illic est Vires in Numerus” There is Strength in Numbers
“Working Hard to Preserve Our Country’s History wherever it is being lost”
U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group is a group of individuals that are concerned about the preservation of the History of the Veterinary Corps, Remount Service and Cavalry or wherever our country’s history is being lost in conjunction with our beloved “Horse and Mule”. There is no cost to join and membership is for life. We believe by uniting together in numbers we will be a more powerful force to be heard. Our membership list is private and only used to contact our members. Email us and become a member.
FACEBOOK: U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group
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