Horse Saddlebag, 1914-1918

German Cavalry Saddlebag (Gold Museum collection, 75.0175)

German Cavalry Saddlebag (Gold Museum collection, 75.0175)

World War One marked a transitional period in the use of the horse in warfare.

Cavalry had limited use after 1914 on the Western Front, where entrenched positions, and extensive barbed wire and machine gun emplacements, prevented their traditional function of breaking up enemy infantry concentrations.

After the Boer War (1899-1902) British cavalry units were increasingly trained in the use of rifles and dismounted manoeuvres, which made them more adaptable to the changed conditions.

German cavalry units maintained traditional weapons and tactics and, after 1914, were primarily used on the more mobile Eastern Front.

Horses were used for reconnaissance, messenger duties and, overwhelmingly, to haul supplies, ammunition, artillery, and ambulances, across ground that defeated mechanised transport.

It is estimated that as many as eight million horses, and countless mules and donkeys, died during World War One.

This saddlebag is on display at the Gold Museum as part of the Shrine of Remembrance’s exhibition Australia Will Be There, on show until September 18, 2016.

Written by Katrina Nicholson, Centenary Exhibition Research Officer, Shrine of Remembrance

 

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