War Horse: The Real Story
Steven Spielberg’s ‘War Horse’ made a lot of people think and a lot of horse lovers cry. I enjoyed it, but for me it was a tad sentimental. No surprise there. In reality, the truth, of course, about the extraordinary role of horses in our First World War effort is both shocking and mind-blowing.
In all, over a million horses went to the front line during the First World War. Without them, many believe the end result of the conflict would have been very different. Sadly, only 60,000 made it back. Six of them pulled the body of the unknown warrior to its final resting place at Westminster Abbey – one of many exceptional pieces of archive featured in this documentary ‘War Horse: the real story’. I didn’t see this sequence until the film aired on TV. And it brought me to tears.
I was asked to co-present the film because of my veterinary interest in horses. But, I am shamed to say that I had no idea of the scale of the operation put in place by the newly formed Royal Army Veterinary Corps, not only to mobilise enough horses from the UK and overseas, but to provide mobile first aid clinics, ambulances and equine hospitals to look after them.
On Park Lane in London there is a memorial to all the war animals that have lost their lives serving us on military campaigns. We should never forget their sacrifice. For the soldiers they lived and died alongside, they weren’t just work-horses. They were friends and companions in a lonely, war torn field far from home.
War Horse: The Real Story won a Royal Television Society award for best specialist factual programme in 2013
Channel 4, Prime Time
1 x 60′ doc