Michael Morpurgo’s moving tale War Horse has highlighted the plight of the horses on the battlefield. Our Singlegate “old boy” William H Barret rode his horse, Jim, throughout the war.
At the end of hostilities, when William went to India still as part of the Royal Horse Artillery, we know that, sadly, Jim didn’t go with him.
Over eight million horses from all sides died at the Western Front during the fighting. There are no records about the fate of William’s horse, Jim. But the National Army Museum now holds his hoof set in silver.
The hoof is referenced in the museum’s collection as follows:
”JIM’/ HORSE RIDDEN BY/ TRUMPETER W H BARRETT MM/ ‘H’ BATTERY RHA/ THROUGHOUT THE GREAT WAR’; ”JIM’ WAS PRESENTED TO/ QUEEN ALEXANDRA/ BY/ FIELD MARSHAL EARL HAIG/ 1919′; relating to Trumpeter W H Barrett, MM, Queen Alexandra and FM Earl Haig; associated with H Bty, Royal Horse Artillery; associated with World War One (1914-1918).”
With thanks to Diane Holmes of Colliers Wood for her research into the impact of World War One on the area.