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WWI "Shave and a Haircut" #2

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posted by Sunny Brook alias sunnybrook100 on Sunday 25th of January 2009 04:30:25 AM

This photograph of a WWI mounted British soldier (sorry, but I couldn't make out his cap badge) was taken by (letters cut off) -d C. Palmer, Tower Studio, Sea Front, Herne Bay in England. The soldier is wearing a nine-pocket cavalryman's bandoleer and is sitting astride a horse with a somewhat strange-looking appearance owing to the fact that its winter coat has been clipped. Under the battlefield conditions of WWI, accommodation for horses and mules was, on the whole, a rudimentary affair. In many cases a simple picket line sufficed, which in fine weather conditions was not a problem. In the winter, however, it was a serious and potentially lethal situation, and the British Army compounded the danger with its confused stance on the clipping of the horse and mule's winter hair, a shaggy coat, which keeps them warm and protects them from the elements but can also aggravate and disguise various skin disorders and parasitical activity (lice, mange), all of which can become seriously debilitating. Army vets and those caring for the animals were therefore told to clip the coats, a measure that would have been fine in peacetime when horses and mules could be stabled or, if in winter paddocks, have rugs thrown over them and then replaced at regular intervals. But winter coats where there is rudimentary shelter, and where exposed animals given sodden rugs are at risk of developing fatal pneumonia, are vital to the horse and mule's survival. Thus the decision to clip meant that many of the animals were lost to exposure in that first winter of the War because of a short-sighted order that, on paper, looked like the sensible thing to do. In the years to come, those in charge of horses and mules left most of the winter coat unshorn. By 1918 the clipping of only the legs and bellies had became standard British Army practise. The following website is recommended reading:

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  • Published 01.24.22
  • Resolution 1024x643
  • Image type jpg
  • File Size 136780 byte.

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