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Homage to WW1 horses in epic Sea to Somme trip

Andy Smerdon and his horse Mack are leading the Sea to the Somme ride.

Andy Smerdon and his horse Mack are leading the Sea to the Somme ride.

A British man is leading a 125 mile horseback trip to commemorate the Great War and raise money for charities Blue Cross and Royal British Legion. 

Andy Smerdon with Mac and Meg. The trip is raising funds for charities The Blue Cross and the Royal British Legion.

Andy Smerdon with Mac and Meg. The trip is raising funds for charities Blue Cross and the Royal British Legion.

Organiser and amateur historian Andy Smerdon, from Chelmsford in Essex, is leading nine other riders on the “Sea to the Somme” journey.

They will depart on August 14, travelling from Dover to Nieuwpoort, Belgium and proceeding on horseback in period WW1 uniforms along the Western Front, ending at the river Somme in northern France, recreating the journey from which thousands of men and horses did not return.

Smerdon is taking his horse Mack and mules, Meg and Buddy, on the trip.

“Horses played such a vital role during WW1 and we really want this trip to highlight the animals who lost their lives, as well as recognise those men who fought alongside them.

“During our trip we will be visiting key sights along the front lines including Ypres, Hell Fire Corner and the battlefield of the Somme whilst raising money for two great charities, Blue Cross and Royal British Legion,” Smerdon said.

Andy Smerdon and Mack.

Andy Smerdon and Mack.

Blue Cross, which was founded in 1897, played a pivotal role during World War One in helping war horses through its hospitals in France, Belgium and Italy and sending veterinary packs and care manuals to British soldiers charged with caring for horses. Today the charity still helps rehabilitate and rehome around 400 horses and ponies every year.

Steven Broomfield, Manager at Blue Cross Victoria animal hospital adds: “Blue Cross was founded to care for horses on the streets of London and went on to treat over 50,000 sick and injured horses during the First World War.

“It’s wonderful that Andy and the team – including the horses – will be making such an epic trip to remember the important role animals played in the war. We wish them all the best for their journey.”

 

A horse-drawn team passes a tank that seems to have broken down on the side of the road. Over 100,000 British horses were estimated to have been killed in the Somme offensive.

A horse-drawn team passes a tank that seems to have broken down on the side of the road. Over 100,000 British horses were estimated to have been killed in the Somme offensive. © J.R. Byrne, New Zealand artillery in the field, Whitcombe & Tombs, 1922 Ministry for Culture and Heritage

To make a donation, visit this page or visit the group’s website to learn more.

www.bluecross.org.uk

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