All those horses …

As the autumn continued, guns and horses arrived, the former from Vickers and Sons, the latter from “their native fields.” (1)

A brigade of field artillery (three six-gun batteries) required 198 riding horses and 550 draught horses, we are told. (2) How does that break down?

18e Horse team and wagon December 1916 no caption.jpg
A battery of four guns like Percy’s 48th (now 81st) had six horses to pull each gun, and each gun had two ammunition wagons, which were also drawn by six-horse teams.  A pair of horses was required to pull the battery’s water cart, and its two general supply wagons. That’s 78 draught horses, if my arithmetic is correct, plus eight spare horses (a factor of 10% was used).

Then there were riding horses: every officer had two riding horses; trumpeters and shoeing-smith-corporals were assigned one each. Signallers, scouts, range-takers, and coverers also had a riding horse. (A coverer is the corporal who looks after the ammunition wagons for a particular gun.) Add in 10% in spares … It’s a lot of horses. No wonder mules were taken on to make up the necessary numbers.

(1) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. Toronto: Longhurst, 1919. 7.
(2)  Clifton, Ronald. “What is an Artillery Brigade?” Stand To!The Journal of the Western Front Association 31 (Spring 1991): 32. Mr. Clifton’s figures apply to six-gun batteries; I have adjusted where I could.

The photograph (“A horse team and wagon”) is from Percy’s large album. :

Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”
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