I went to watch War Horse at Bradford's Alhambra Theatre last night. The production as expected was amazing but I thought I would share some thoughts on how the story related to the purchasing of horses in Bradford at the outbreak of war.
The 2nd West Riding Royal Field Artillery (Territorials) were one of the battalions based in Bradford just off Manningham Lane. At the outbreak of war they needed lots of heavy draught horses to pull the guns and carts as well as horses for officers. Some farmers had taken grants from the War Office of between 10s and £4 per annum depending on the quality of the horse and in return they guaranteed to provide these horses if needed by the Government. Bradford had 200 guaranteed horses.
The Army Act (section 115) also stated that if the King declares an emergency the military can issue a “Requisition of Emergency” requiring local “Justices of the Peace to issue warrants for the provision, for the purposes mentioned in the Requisition, of carriages, animals, vessels, and aircraft, as prescribed by the said Act”.
The battalion was ordered to mobilise 4th Aug 1914 at 7.15pm.On the 4th day of mobilisation 137 Heavy draught horses and 17 Officers chargers were brought in by the battalions Horse Purchasing Officer and 54 by a civilian purchaser. However, this was only a third of the amount of horses that were needed by the 13 August, the ninth day of mobilisation.
The story of how these horses were gathered and what happened to them prior to their departure from Bradford is revealed in my book Great War Britain: Bradford available in November or I am available to give talks on this and other subjects locally.