- Contributed by
- CSV Solent
- People in story:
- Joyce Kemp
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- 11 July 2005
Julie Andrews and John riding Trixie
MEMORIES OF WAR TIME — HORSES
By Joyce Kemp
Before the war broke out I used to earn to ride at a riding school at Wrecclesham, and with several other young people, we used to help look after the horses. Of course we had lots of extra rides bringing in horses from the fields riding bare back — not to mention having fun with hose pipes etc in the yard!
We had great fun working and playing together so it was a sad day at the beginning of the War when horses were requisitioned for the Army as they had been in World War 1. We were still looking after those horses that now belonged to the Army.
So one day we rode them to Guilford Railway Station. I was riding Mike and leading Simon. I remember cantering along a grass verge. I think it was somewhere along the Hogs Back. The station echoed to the clatter of horse’s hooves. The place was full of horses!
The soldiers who took our horses seemed very caring and our horses had labels on their head collar giving their names, what their likes and dislikes were and our address.
When we got back to the yard it seemed very empty and quiet. I was glad to see one of my favourites, Winkle (a grey), was still there - he was too old for the Army. Winkle loved jumping but sometimes had no brakes!
Later on we read in the papers that the Army had taken more horses than they needed. They were in outdoor lines in Scotland in bad weather. Some had been sent there with strangles and were in a bad way. Then we heard that it was not compulsory that people had to sell them which must have been heart breaking for many people.
We did have letters from some of the solders who had some of our riding school horses, somewhere in the Middle East. We do not know what happened to them. One hopes that they were not left there when the troops returned home.
Although there was a war on people still came to ride when they had time off. Later on when the Canadian solders were here they enjoyed galloping across Frensham Common. It was difficult to get food for horses unless you grew it yourself. Good haymaking weather was very welcome.
Children still came to ride the ponies. One little girl who rode the ponies became well known later on and that was Julie Andrews. Recently I wrote to her and had a letter back again and yes she did remember riding the grey pony, Trixie. Julie and her brother John, stayed at the riding school with their mother who was in ENSA which entertained the troops. We could see that she was a good little actress when she and John played a game of bringing the horses in, when they pretended to be us bringing horses in from the fields!
It was very amusing. Later on in the war we ran gymkhanas in Wrecclesham and some in Whitedown Lane in Alton to make funds for Mrs Churchill’s Aid to Russia — the Russians were having a bad time.
We made rosettes because of course the factories couldn’t make them in those days. We painted the hammer and sickle Russian symbol on them. People with horses hacked to these gymkhanas — no petrol for horse boxes of course.
The horse population must have gone down in this country during the War. Some lost to bombs no doubt and lack of breeding. However once the war was over riding was very popular. There were still few cars on the roads — petrol still rationed so we could hack about safely, not like it is today!
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