Armistice honour for horses of war
ABOUT 1500 people gathered at Hamilton’s Memorial Park yesterday to honour horses of war as part of Armistice Day commemorations.
The unveiling of the statue – a 300kg life-size bronze horse created by sculptor Matt Gauldie – was preceded by the Armistice Day service, which culminated in a one-minute silence at the ‘‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’’ – marking exactly 99 years since the end of World War I.
The statue was gifted to the city by Waikato Equestrians and the TOTI Trust and honours the 18,000 horses deployed with New Zealand troops in the South African War of 1899-1902 and World War I, which spanned the years from 1914 to 1918.
The horses endured terrible suffering – wounds, thirst, hunger, weariness – such that only five came home.
New Zealand and Australia primarily mark Anzac Day on April 25, but the November 11 Armistice Day is the main war remembrance date in Europe.
Yesterday’s ceremony also featured six Clydesdales pulling a 1.5-tonne WWI artillery gun up Memorial Drive, followed by members of the Waikato Mounted Rifles and ‘‘War Horse March’’ riders.