To mark the centenary of the First World War, for the third year running a local event horse, 12-year-old bay gelding Sambucca, will step up to the war memorial in Menheniot village tomorrow, for a wreath to be laid in memory of the pitiful sacrifice made by the ‘War Horses’ and other animals during the conflict.
Horses were taken from their owners, whether pets or working animals, by the Government of the day for war service and there was no say in the matter.
The animals were used for hauling ammunition, guns, food, water and all manner of other materials needed by the men on the front lines. Hundreds of thousands succumbed to bullets, bombshell or entanglement in barbed wire from which there was no recovery. Even when the war ended most of the survivors had to be destroyed to feed the starving French population. Very few returned.
When Mr William Coryton of Pentillie Castle, near Menheniot, got wind that the government was seizing horses, he had all his hunt horses shot rather than see them go off to war.
Sambucca will represent his fallen friends on Remembrance Day.
Out of concern for the weather for Sunday, yesterday, Sam was taken to Menheniot Primary School where a class of six- and seven-year-olds helped him with some ’umbrella training’.
The whole class stood in a line and then walked up and down past the horse several times before opening their umbrellas fully and repeating the exercise.
When it was all over, one of the time each child had the opportunity to stroke him.
And the weather can throw what it likes at Sam on Sunday now!