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Remembering the war horses from Norfolk that were killed in the First World War

PUBLISHED: 16:35 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:35 09 November 2018

The North Burlingham stables which was used as a horse hospital during the First World War. Picture: Valerie Knights/Nick Butcher

The North Burlingham stables which was used as a horse hospital during the First World War. Picture: Valerie Knights/Nick Butcher

Archant © 2012

A century on from the end of the First World War, animals continue to be innocent victims of conflict around the world.

That is the message from animal charity SPANA, as it urges those to remember the forgotten victims this Remembrance Sunday of the many millions of animals that lost their lives in the Great War.

Used by all sides in the conflict, around 16m animals were put into service including one million mules and horses employed by Britain alone.

Some of those horses were cared for in Norfolk - at The White House in North Burlingham, which was then called Beighton House.

Around 20 horses were looked after at a time at The White House, most of whom were sent straight back to the front as soon as they were fit.

Many of the horses were requisitioned from the area which had a profound effect on farming, and prices of horses shot up after the war as so little would return home.

Valerie Knights MBE lived with her family on and off in the house since 1940. Her father was a cavalryman and captain with the Royal Norfolk Regiment and experienced first-hand the close partnership between a man and his horse.

Speaking to the EDP in 2012, she said: “It was called a hospital for sick horses.

“They were brought here from France to recover and be looked after. Still, one had to be put down and died and was buried in the meadow.”

Even as military forces have increasingly mechanised, animals have continued to serve in great numbers.

In the Second World War, Britain had 200,000 animals in service, while the German army lost more than 179,000 horses on the Eastern Front alone in just two months.

A SPANA spokesman said: “It is a sad reality that animals suffer appallingly during times of war.

“It is also a reality that many communities impacted by war are heavily reliant on working animals and struggle with the loss of these animals in the aftermath of conflict as they rebuild infrastructure and lives.

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