Ar­mistice hon­our for horses of war

Sunday News - - NEWS - MIKE MATHER

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.

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