Spe­cial com­mem­o­ra­tion for war horse Song­ster

Loughborough Echo - - LETTERS - MEL GOULD

IN A quiet field close to Wood­house Eaves lies the grave of Lough­bor­ough’s most fa­mous war horse, Song­ster, a grave that has re­mained un­marked for many years un­til now.

Song­ster pa­raded with the men and horses of the Le­ices­ter­shire Yeo­manry in Lough­bor­ough’s Mar­ket Place in Au­gust 1914 at the out­break of WW1. Through­out the war Song­ster and his rider, Trooper Bert Main, en­dured to­gether the hor­rors and hard­ship of that war.

By the end of WW1 it is es­ti­mated that some eight mil­lion horses and mules had died and, of those that sur­vived, only the youngest and fittest were brought home. Song­ster was one of the lucky ones; brought back to be sold at auction.

But the bond be­tween horse and rider was still strong.

Bert Main trav­elled to London and bought Song­ster at auction along with a sec­ond horse, Fe­nian, the war horse of Squadron Sergeant Ma­jor Harry Poole. Af­ter a short time sta­bled at Garen­don, Song­ster joined Fe­nian at the farm man­aged by Harry. It was there that the two horses who had en­dured so much in the war set­tled down for a peace­ful re­tire­ment.

Song­ster’s only job was to pull a milk cart once a week to Lough­bor­ough Mar­ket. Whilst there he would en­joy a drink with the old com­rades of the Yeo­manry in the club room above the Old Boot Ho­tel. The bat­tered stair rods bore tes­ti­mony to Songsters vis­its: as Bert said, “that horse is as fond of a glass of beer as I am”

Song­ster rode with the Quorn Hunt and at­tended the an­nual camps with the Le­ices­ter­shire Yeo­manry till 1936. He never lost his lust for life but sadly, at the grand old age of 40, that life came to an end in Jan­uary 1940. Song­ster was buried with full mil­i­tary hon­ours along with the medals earned in WW1; buried in the field in which he had grazed for so many years.

A few years ago the present owner of the land gifted the marker on Song­ster’s grave to the Lough­bor­ough Car­il­lon Mu­seum but last year it was sug­gested that a replica be made and placed on the grave.

On Sun­day, June 3, a ser­vice was held at the grave at­tended by the fam­i­lies of Bert Main and Harry Poole, mem­bers of the Le­ices­ter­shire Yeo­manry As­so­ci­a­tion, sol­diers of ‘E’ (Le­ices­ter­shire & Der­byshire Yeo­manry) Squadron, Royal Yeo­manry per­son­nel and other in­vited guests. An ex­act replica of the orig­i­nal grave marker was un­veiled.

Scouts from the Thorpe Acre Troop camped out over the week­end at the farm and pro­vided the re­fresh­ments at the re­cep­tion that fol­lowed the ser­vice. They also had the treat of be­ing able to climb all over the ar­moured ve­hi­cle brought to the ser­vice by the mod­ern day Yeo­manry men: a ve­hi­cle that car­ries the name ‘Song­ster’.

Mrs Mary Baird, a vol­un­teer with the Car­il­lon Mu­seum and who or­gan­ised the event said: “That Song­ster sur­vived so long was down to his in­domitable spirit, the care and love he had, both in France and back again in Eng­land, and I imag­ine a per­verse streak that kept him go­ing!

“It was an hon­our and a priv­i­lege to com­mem­o­rate the life of a truly re­mark­able horse and to re­mem­ber the sac­ri­fices made by both men and horses in de­fence of our coun­try.”


Trooper Bert Main is pic­tured with Song­ster, Lough­bor­ough’s very own war horse.

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