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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


Whoops - we must have both been typing at the same time. Thank you for your reply Rob - The thing I have found the most rewarding in my research is the people I meet who also have a common interest in exploring of our war history,it has really only been - should I say - oh what the heck - the RSL men I have had trouble with. But I guess in everything we do there will always be knockers - the trick is to be true to yourself.
Thanks for your kind words
Kate
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


I just found this in the Ian Jones The Light Horse - probably nothing you haven't seen - but just in case!!

"Then an order was issued that all walers were to be classified A,B,C,and D. All C and D horses were to be shot. They were first to have their shoes removed and their manes and tails cut off. Iron and horsehair were saleable. Worse, the horses were to be skinned after being shot. Seven pounds of salt was allowed for the salting of each hide, to be sold as leather.
Horrible as these orders seemed, many men thought that this would be better than leaving their horses to be cruelly treated. Some tried to have their walers included in the C and D group. Others asked permission to take their horse for a last ride and returned carrying saddle and bridle, with the explanation ; "He put his foot in a hole and I had to shot him."
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


That last little bit in Ian Jones' piece is one of the major problems. The other information I have from other primary sources agrees with this up to the bit about taking their horses out for a ride and coming back without them. The AWM site refers to 250 unathorised destruction of horses, which is a fairly insignificant number in itself, however, neither I nor others I have discussed it with have ever found a primary source that gives clear evidence of this happening,,, its usually hearsay. If we could prove that it did happen and that it was 250 out of 13000 we would be going a long way to destroying the myths that surround this subject.
How did I get involved? WelL, in 2000-2001 I put together the Australian Stock Horse Society Federation Gallery in Scone. My research showed that the facts contradicted the common story and as I was at the time a director of the ALHA I attempted to promote the true story. However, the current President, Mr Bob Gunning, pops up promoting the Waler memorial in Tamworth with statements about horses being shot, and figures of "10s of thousands" keep appearing in the media.
As an historian, I find this shoddy research and slack journalism reprhensible and have set out to fix the problem.

In January, my blood started to boil when a guide at the AWM repeated the story to a tour group, and then articles appear in RM WIlliams Outback magazine with the same mis-information repeated.
Rob
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


Kate, don't be put off by any negative commnets about your interest in WWI. What you are doing with your website is terrific and you can be very proud of what you have achieved and will do in the future. Lyn McDonald was one of the first authors I read and I thought she showed an approach to her subject matter which was perhaps slightly different to what a man would have done, and her books were the better for it!
Graeme
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


You are so right Graeme, Lyn McDonald did set a new standard, a much more readable style with a slight shift in perspective, I actually thought of that when I wrote my previous comment!
Rob
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


Rob,
Have you checked any of the private Light Horse records collection at AWM for info contained in diaries regarding Disposal of horses . If you haven't and there is something you want checked - I will be going to Canberra before to long so just let me know
Kate

Last edited by anzac research, 6/2/2003, 10:27 pm
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


There are a lot of myths concerning events (or in this case, non-events) in the Great War. The problem is, as Rob has pointed out, that a lot of people like the myths just the way they are, and don't appreciate when it's pointed out that evidence disproves them, and that the fact that many people may believe them doesn't in itself make them true. There was a time, for example, when everyone believed the world was flat. Didn't make it true.

There really is a culture which resists the debunking - even, in fact, the very questioning - of long-held and cherished beliefs. Many of us saw this in action over on the Light Horse forum. It's argued by some that no effort should be made to change these beliefs, as 'some people won't change.' This isn't a very convincing argument for not bringing commonly-held misconceptions or mistakes to public notice.

That's not to say that, just because it IS a commonly-held belief, that it's wrong. I don't agree with that at all, and there are some ideas, 'untrendy' at the moment, which I believe have not been disproved. This isn't one of them.

My own personal 'hate' is the slack use of the term 'Anzac', especially the use of the fully-capitalised form, which means - ONLY - The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, an army formation of two divisions that disappeared forever with the end of the Gallipoli campaign. The fully-capitalised form - 'ANZAC' - seems to be bandied about to stand for anything people want it to mean, yet it has a very specific meaning. Point that out, though, and you get the same kind of resistance as Rob has got to his questioning of the standard story regarding the shooting of horses.

Anyway Rob, no amount of emotive hysteria (such as has appeared on another forum), designed to cloud the issue which is -only- that the dissemination of false 'information' is wrong - should divert you from your quest to prove that the myth of wholesale shooting of horses by Light Horsemen is just that; a myth; a falsehood. Stick with it!

Bryn

Last edited by Bryn, 6/3/2003, 8:23 am
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


Bryn,
I don't know how much you hear our Australian politicians talk whilst you are overseas, but the word "Anzac" is thrown about in many places it shouldn't be. I don't know if others think the same and I stand to be corrected - but in times of tragedy - such as some of the awful events in the past two years "The Anzac Spirit" has been used often in politicians speeches especially at times their own popularity is at stake - a "Rah Rah" to pep us all up. Really what we see in times of tragedy is the Human Spirit which is something I am sure is universal and what indeeds makes us human. .
I suppose a topic such as Disposal of the Horses is something that had been ingrained into people through family stories etc, and is always so difficult to let go of something we have always believed. Not so long ago I had a really heated debate over Ned Kelly with my NZdr brother in law. (Sorrry I know Ned is right off topic just using as an example of long held beliefs)I have grown up in the same district as Ned and never doubted for a minute he wasn't just a good bloke who was driven to be a criminal by corrupt police - because this is what I have learnt/heard since [sign in to see URL] B-I-L really challenged me about this and it took all my strength to even consider what he was saying. In hindsight I realised he saw the story completely differently to me as he had not grown up in this country and had formed no emotional attachment to it. I imagine it is the same with many of the Anzac legends - it is what we have believed and it will take some education to change that. I wish Rob well with his quest and would like to help in anyway I can.
Kate

Last edited by anzac research, 6/3/2003, 8:34 am
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


Rob,

Do you have a copy of 'An Elephant in my Garden' by Geoff Fethers. Mr Feathers was a veterinarian with the Australian Light Horse in the Middle East during the concluding phase of WW1.

There is a 2 page description on the authors experience with the destruction of the horses. Confirming that not all horses were destroyed!

Let me know if you want it & I will post ir over this site.
(I cannot remember if I gave you this info already?)

Anyway,I have read enough to confirm that not all the horses were destroyed, but unfortunately it consist mainly of a few sentences in a few sources. Not the kind of exact detail that may suffice the most ardent sceptic

Anyway next time you are down my way you are welcome to go through my references, but I do not think it will be easy to get definitive statistics on the exact numbers of horses destroyed.

For mine the only real possibility would be the AWM!
Good luck!

Cheers
Geoff S

Last edited by Madras19, 6/3/2003, 12:02 am
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Re: Disposal of Horses at the end of WWI


The detail of the disposal of horses is pretty well documented, it is the stories about their destruction that is the BIG question. Why did so many repeat the story that they were all destroyed? What was the point of the lie?

The horses were categorised by veterinary officers by age and condition, into A B C & D. Those of no further use and those over 14 years were destroyed (although BOurne records in 2nd LH History that those over 8 were destroyed, this is contradicted by the regimental war diary) Some smaller horses were sold locally or in some cases given away (100 horses were presented to the King of the Hejaz)

Generally the horses that were destroyed were destroyed at the Remounts with Brigade shooting parties making it unlikely that men shot their own horses. They were then skinned and buried. The AWM reports a figure of 250 unauthorised detructions. This figure is an interesting one, and I look forward to finding out more about it. Who calculated it and what evidence there is. If there were 250 shot by their riders without authority, what actions were taken and why has the figure grown to "tens of thousands"?

Certainly a subject for further research.
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