For detailed Account on the horse purchase scandle 1914-1915: Canada’s First Contingent C.E.F., First World War, Horse Purchase Scandal. http://wp.me/p55eja-ii
‘I believe that every soldier who has anything to do with horse or mule has come to love them for what they are and the grand work they have done and are doing in and out of the death zones.’ Captain Sidney Galtrey, autumn 1918.
DHH OH 1938: HORSES p.80.
In August 1912 a Remount Committee had been constituted; the personnel, at first two honorary colonels, supplemented eight months later by two more, was to act as a staff for consultation by the Minister of Militia. In the Mobilization Regulations of 1913, provision was made for obtaining horses partly by units and partly by Districts; in any case responsibility for inspection, purchase, collection and issue would rest, in each District, with a committee of three officers—one Army Service Corps, one Army Veterinary Corps and one other—appointed by the D.O.C. These committees did not, on account of changes in procedure already described, participate in the purchase of horses for the First Contingent. Responsibility was removed from Districts on 11th August, when the new Director of Veterinary Services at Militia Headquarters (Lieut.-Colonel W. J. Neill) was designated Remount Officer and entrusted by the Minister with the procuring of all horses required. Between that date and 26th September instructions as to selection and purchase, were issued direct from Ottawa to fifty officers of the Militia and five civilians, who were authorized to issue cheques on a credit established for that purpose; in every case a veterinary surgeon would pass upon the horse and countersign the cheque.
The horse establishment of a division was 5,030; the addition of other units increased this to 7,264 riding, artillery and draught horses, “sound in wind and limb and free from all blemishes.” Their colour might be bay, brown, black, chestnut, blue roan or red roan; ages must be between five and eight years and heights from 15 to 16 hands, weight 1,000 to 1,400 lbs., dependent upon category. The price must average $175, and that sum was paid to any officer who wished to bring his own charger, provided it met the above requirements. Only artillery units which mobilized at local headquarters purchased their own horses and took them to Valcartier. On 29th August the number of horses in camp was 1,822; by 2nd September, owing to the advent of artillery units, it was 3,767. The horses required for other units, purchased chiefly in the areas about Halifax, Quebec, Sherbrooke, Montreal, Toronto, London and Winnipeg, were shipped to Valcartier from 4th September onwards, and during the following week 3,000 horses were taken on the strength of an inadequate and hurriedly improvised remount depot for issue to units, commencing 9th September.
Where regimental purchase was in force, farmers were for sale were inspected for physical fitness by the veterinary officer and for suitability by the purchasing officer; when passed, a cheque was handed to the vendor whose endorsement was accepted as a receipt; a regimental officer then attended to the branding and to the entry of the description of each horse in the ledger, after which the horses, now in the army, were brought to the local mobilization centre. When purchases were made non-regimentally, procedure was similar, but the special agent appointed by the A.D.V.S. might be a civilian – although in all cases a Veterinary Officer, or a civil veterinary surgeon paid at the rate of $10 per day, was required to pass upon fitness and to countersign the cheque.
The purchasing agents quickly secured a number of horses and began shipping them as early as 20th August to Valcartier, where no unit had as yet been detailed to look after them on arrival, and investigations prompted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals disclosed that two carloads had been left for a time on the sidings without proper attention. On 1st September Valcartier Camp Orders announced the formation of a remount depot at the northern end of the camp, the personnel to be temporarily provided by No. 5 Company, C.A.S.C. Horses were arriving from all parts before this date and accommodation and picketing gear were both lacking; the situation was met by the erection of a system of open corrals fenced with stakes cut from the bush on the camp site. On two occasions, both at night, horses broke from these corrals and stampeded through the camp.
Horses on arrival in camp were inspected for contagious disease and affected animals were isolated; provision was made for inoculation of every horse with a prophylactic streptococcus and particular attention was paid to the detection of influenza. The Militia veterinary section from Winnipeg arrived at Valcartier with a strength of twenty-six on 26th August and immediately set up a veterinary hospital; open air sick lines were laid out by the veterinary officer of informed by advertisement that horses would be purchased at a certain time and place. At that place the horses brought each unit and a sick report of horses rendered daily to the Principal Veterinary Officer. The total number of horses purchased for the Contingent was 8,150 at an average price of $172.45. By mid-September it was apparent that all were not fit for active service and a Board of Officers decided that 291 were unfit; these, and others which had received injuries, or which had deteriorated, to a total of 481, were sold by auction at Quebec at an average price of $54.
Each animal has a pair of cloth panniers, loaded with eight rounds of what appears to be 18-pound (8 kilos) shells for a field gun. There appears to be one man for every pair of mules, the two animals being tethered together. Mules were better able to cope than many of the horses in the extremely muddy conditions which can be seen in this photograph. The poet Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918) described them as, ‘The quivering-bellied mules’, a reminder of how difficult it must have been to control animals in these conditions.The mules were also equipped with wooden panniers loaded with ammunition.
Canadian National Archives. War diaries – Royal Canadian Horse Artillery = Journal de guerre – Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. 17th Oct. To 31st Oct 1914. Link to War Diary. http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_a…540&back_url=()