UK unaware of the contribution of horses and donkeys in WW1

A recent survey has found that the public are largely unaware of how many horses died in the First World War.

Mules on their way to war in Minehead

Mules on their way to war in Minehead

The survey, which was conducted across the UK for Brooke Action for Working Horses and donkeys by nfpSynergy, found that only 12% of the public knew that between 1914 and 1918, eight million of these animals died on all sides.

Brooke has today launched Every Horse Remembered, a new campaign to highlight the contribution of working horses and donkeys past and present.

One million horses, donkeys and mules from were conscripted in the UK and used in WW1, and only 62,000 returned after the conflict ended.

75% of the horses and mules died in the War because of the intense environments they had to work in, rather than shell fire.

75% of the horses and mules died in the War because of the intense environments they had to work in, rather than shell fire.

Almost half (48%) of those surveyed were surprised to learn that many of the equines that survived were sold or abandoned.

Brooke’s founder, Dorothy Brooke, later found thousands of Britain’s war horses, walking skeletons labouring on the hot and dusty streets of Cairo.

She wrote a letter to the Morning Post (now the Telegraph) appealing for help, and the British people helped her buy back 5,000 of the animals.

She established the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in 1934, which later became Brooke.  

The charity now helps working horses, donkeys and mules around the world.

Following the launch of their Every Horse Remembered campaign, Brooke's chief executive, Petra Ingram, said: “Brooke has launched this campaign to highlight the struggle of working horses, donkeys and mules of the past and present.

"We’ve found that even though many people know horses were used in the First World War, there’s little understanding of what happened to them afterwards, and even less realise that these working animals are making a valuable contribution today.

 “75% of the horses and mules died in the War because of the intense environments they had to work in, rather than shell fire.

"The sad reality is that these animals are still working in punishing conditions, and with the help of the British public, Every Horse Remembered will continue Dorothy Brooke’s legacy and improve the welfare of even more horses, donkey and mules around the world.”

Celebrities and well-known equestrians have already lent their support for the campaign, including Jennifer Saunders, Clare Balding, Olympic gold medallists Charlotte Dujardin and Victoria Pendleton, Jan Leeming and Wendy Turner-Webster.

Deborah Meaden is also supporting and giving a speech for Brooke at the Animals in War remembrance service, organised by Petplan Charitable Trust and Dogs Trust on Friday 10 November.

To find out more and support the campaign, go to www.thebrooke.org/everyhorse

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