Ever since I read Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling book War Horse, watched the movie and saw the brilliant stage version brought vividly to life, I have become fascinated by the role horses played in the two world wars.
My uncle Maurice, who served in the war and was taken prisoner and incarcerated in Colditz, tended some of those brave horses during the conflict. He fed and groomed them and nursed their injuries. He is the only member of my family who had a passion for equines other than me and I guess that’s where my interest comes from.
The army’s remount service in the Hampshire area was established back in 1887 to provide horses for military service, firstly in the Boer War and then in 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War.
Throughout the wars more than 140,000 animals, including mules, were handled by the Romsey Remount depot at Pauncefoot Hill on the outskirts of the town.
So it is fantastic news that the Romsey war horse project plans to honour these gallant and brave creatures with a statue by local sculptor Amy Goodman which is to be put up in the town’s memorial park in 2015 – 100 years after the camp opened.
Closer to home here in Portsmouth, did you know we have our own memorial to some horses?
If you have not come across it yet, it is at the back of the Garrison church in Old Portsmouth.
It took me by surprise the other afternoon when I discovered it tucked away on a wall down a walkway from Pembroke Road that leads to the seafront.
It remembers two much-loved steeds that were buried at that spot in 1851 – Comus, a favourite pony presented to Lord Fred FitzClarence by King William IV and Chief, an old hunter, also given by King William to the lord.
Also interesting was my visit to the Garrison Church which is the oldest its kind in the world and dates back to an 1212. The staff there gave me a lovely welcome and impressive insight into the history of the building.
If you are passing that way do go and stop by the delightful memorial to the ponies. It really is worth a look especially if, like me, you have a love of horses.