Researched by Jenny Mukerji
Horse Census HO45/10840/333647/20 (National Archives, Kew)
This is a large folder which included papers on cattle, poultry and other livestock information as well as horses. However, most intriguing is the correspondence between the Deputy Assistant Director of Remounts at Command Headquarters and local constabularies regarding Army Service Corps (ASC) Remount horses that had been boarded out to local farmers and had gone missing! The earliest date of this section was 9 February 1918.
Apparently some of the military had been boarding out their horses with local farmers and had not been properly recording the details. When the soldiers moved on, they had not been taking all of the horses with them. The horses then ‘disappeared’. The Remount Service officials were asking the local police to look into it. There is a letter from the Surrey Constabulary at Guildford asking for clarification as to what to do. However, the police maintained that they had more important things to do and that it should be a matter for the Remount Service to track down these horses. Local chief constables stated that their men would report any suspicions they had about a horse to the Remounts for them to further investigate.
Bearing in mind that all Remounts were tattooed, anyone with one of these horses illegally, couldn’t really get away with it! I do feel that this scenario would make a good comedy drama television programme!
Most of these horses had, however, been located by the end of the war.
Here is a transcription of a War Office Memo relating to the subject which is also part of HO45/10840/333647/20:
(Typed) War Office 9/2/18 (stamped received by the Home Office)
Tracing Army Horses boarded out with farmers etc and lost sight of by the local military.
Forward Copy of instructions they propose to issue to Remount Officers as to the co-operation of the police.
Originally (./18 the W.O. Suggested to Remount Officers that they should ask the police to go the round of stables and farms etc and find out if any horses there were army horses which had been boarded out, lost sight of by the units
concerned and left in civilian hands without proper record having been kept. It seemed to be impracticable for the police to do whilst Colonel Sanders now agrees that the police should only be expected to report to the Remount Officer for inquiry any case in which they suspect that an army horse may be in wrong hands, and be concurs in the terms of the draft circular within.
? Issue circular as in draft (someone’s initials)
(Handwritten) (initials) 27/2/18
(more initials) 28/2/18
Circular issued to (more initials) 1/3/18
copies to Comm. Of Police
(more unreadable writing)
In the margin: Memo within as to possibility of proceeding against persons retaining army horses Lt Bond (WO) called (initials)