Devon

Royal Navy holds 'first' memorial service for horses

Horses Image copyright Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Image caption The service honoured not just the eight million horses which died in World War I, but the many others used in battles since.

The Royal Navy has held "the first of its kind" memorial service to reflect on horses lost and injured in conflict.

The service was held at the Royal Marines Riding Stables at Bickleigh Barracks in Devon.

Five horses wore poppy garlands for the ceremony, including a horse named Rocky with the rank of sergeant major.

The service honoured not just the eight million horses which died in World War Ome, but the many others used in battles since.

A horse named Anoushka represented horses used in the Battle of the Somme, cobs horses were represented by a horse named Bob, a horse named Zabor represented Russian horses and a horse named Tango represented the officers' horses.

Image copyright Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Image caption Royal Navy Lieutenants Deni Milner, left, and Gary Smith fit poppies on to the bridle of Zabor at the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Riding Stables
Image copyright Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Image caption A poppy garland is worn by Sergeant Major Rocky as he is led on to parade by Eleanor Goodsell, 17, from Plymouth

Stables chairwoman Cathie Gillespie said: "The service is one of a kind and it is the first time that anything like this has been held in the Royal Navy.

"Eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys died in the First World War.

"They were used to transport ammunition and supplies to the front and many died, not only from the horrors of shellfire but also in terrible weather and appalling conditions.

"We thought it only fitting that in this month of remembrance we remember the animals too and what better place to hold a memorial service but at the Royal Navy Stables."

Image copyright Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Image caption Lord Mayor of Plymouth Pauline Murphy laughs as she passes a horse named Zabor at the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Riding Stables
Image copyright Ben Birchall
Image caption HMS Drake chaplain Reverend Mike Pons delivered a reading during the first memorial service dedicated to horses killed or injured in conflict
Image copyright Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Image caption Young members of the Junior Saddle Club held wooden crosses at the service

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