Living Pictures – Vet History Podcast

This year, RCVS Knowledge were very pleased to participate in an internship scheme organised by the Kings College London History department. MA student Abbie Latham spent a few months with us, reading and transcribing Fred Smith’s Boer War letters. She also recorded the following podcast, in which she explores aspects of the letters relating to […]

Smith's sketch of the new hospital

South African War Diaries

In  1900, Frederick Smith was serving as a veterinary officer in the South African War.  The entries in his official war diary for August of that year show that the focus of his attention at that time was on finding a new site for the veterinary hospital which he had responsibility for. The hospital was […]

Smith - skeleton of a horse shoing back bone and ribs

Horses and the problem of sore backs

“Sore backs appear inseparable from mounted service, they have existed as long as the horse has been used in war … it was reasonable to suppose … as knowledge advanced, a reduction in this class of injury should have been possible.” So says Frederick Smith in his book A veterinary history of the war in […]

Prioritisation Project

Warrior – one of the real war horses

In an introductory note to Sidney Galtray’s  The horse and the war Field-Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces, states: “I hope that this account … will bring home to the peoples of the British Empire …  the wisdom of breeding animals for the two military virtues of hardiness and activity.” Last night’s Channel 4 […]

Burying a horse at sea

All aboard the SS Templemore

‘We embarked on Friday 10th November, but owing to bad weather did not leave L/pool [Liverpool] until 12.30 noon on 12th November’ so reads an entry in a small notebook which is part of one of the treasures of our archives – the Sir Frederick Smith Collection. Smith sailed for South Africa  on the 12 November 1899 with […]

Entry for July 1916 from The story of Romsey Remount Depot

Your horse belongs to the army now – part two

In the second instalment of our two part post on army horses in the First World War we will take a look at the scale of the operations of the Army Remount Service and in particular the work of the Romsey Remount Depot. The  acquisition of horses for the war effort was an enormous operation.  In his […]

Paintings on display as part of the war horse exhibition

Your horse belongs to the army now – part one

The popularity of Michael Morpurgo’s book War Horse, the success of the stage adaptation and now the release of Steven Spielberg’s film has brought the role horses played in the First World War to the public’s attention. Joey, the main ‘character’ of War Horse, belongs to Albert, the young son of a farmer.  He is […]