< Horses in the War


14 January 2020

Horses in the War banner on display at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary (Photo: Jane Sharp)

Our ‘Horses in the War’ banner has now completed its successful tour of various locations in the South West of England. During November the banner and associated display panels were hosted by the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary in Devon, where many visitors were able to enjoy it and read about the lesser known role that equines played in the First World War. We were delighted by the feedback we received – a selection of those comments are below:

  • We were very impressed with the banner that the ladies have quilted so brilliantly! We were the first two people to see it here at the Donkey Sanctuary. How privileged were we!  Well done ladies a fantastic piece of work which will be appreciated by many.  It’s a lovely way to show and tell the full story and the facts of: Horses in the War (Mr and Mrs B, Frampton on Severn, Glos.) 
  • What a fabulous piece of work, very touching. (C and N, Swansea)
  • Brilliant work and really informative, well done. (H, S and V, Watchet)
  • Very talented ladies. Amazing way of showing the valuable contribution equines made to the war effort. (L B, Devon)
  • Amazing piece of work depicting the plight of the animals that were used in the war effort. ( D, Dorset)
  • Fantastic display, very enjoyable thank you. (N B)
  • Very interesting material, thanks very much. (M, Bristol)
  • A very interesting read. ( J, Worthing)
  • A fascinating exhibition and really highlights how animals were part of the war effort. (G, Somerset)
  • Such an inspiring exhibition. Wonderful way to remember the place played by the horses in the war.  The embroidery is amazing. (S H, Lyme Regis) 
  • A really well done display. It made me realise the effect horses had in the conflict and I didn’t realise how many animals were involved. (J P, Sheffield) 
  • What a beautiful piece of work and very informative. It was a very enlightening story – how amazing were those equines (camels too).  Lovely to see it during my holiday. (D, Portugal)
  • A well selected range of relative subjects artistically and movingly developed and created. ( J, Oxford)
  • A really good display, very interesting and informative, well done. (Z, Exmouth)
  • A really interesting display. I love the idea of each square being researched and all the information.  Well done everyone involved. (R, Gloucester) 

3 November 2019

Our ‘Horses in the War’, banner has now left the Axbridge Museum in Somerset and is back in Devon on display at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary until the end of November. We are delighted that the project continues to have an impact and raise awareness of equines during the First World War. Do please visit if you can.

A few comments left in our visitors’ book at Axbridge Museum:

  • Very interesting display, lovely banner! (W H )
  • Thank you – very interesting. (W C)
  • Beautiful display, very informative. ( J & E P)
  • A fascinating snapshot in time. (P & J)
  • Interesting historical research and wonderful needlework, well done ladies, another work of female inspired art to sit alongside the Bayeux and others. (D F)        
  • Beautiful needlework that tells a very interesting story, enjoyed doing the Semaphore (yes, we worked it out, but will let others do so for themselves). (J & A P)
  • Beautifully made quilting, attractive and informative, well done.
  • Really Interesting, an area of war you don’t often think about. (R & S T)
  • Very impressive, also a history lesson.
  • Well researched and well made. (A S)
  • Beautifully made, informative and very impressive. Interesting and thought provoking. (A E)
  • A sad time for animals. Norman and Timbuc, a lovely challenge and tapestry.
  • Most interesting. (P & J M)
  • Excellent history and detail. (A & T P)
  • Beautiful! Well done quilters – but a very sad theme. (H H)

9 August 2019

Horses in the War banner on display at War Horse Valley (Photo: Jane Sharp)

As planned, our ‘Horses in the War’, banner is now on tour in the South West of England. It was displayed in the museum at War Horse Valley in Devon from Easter to the end of July, where the owners of the museum kindly built a glass fronted cabinet to protect it during its stay. It was positioned near the museum’s entrance so was immediately visible and is estimated to have been accessible to approximately 400 visitors.  Although the funding for our projects has ended we are very grateful to Jane Sharp for arranging this schedule for the banner.  As can be seen from comments in our visitors’ book the project continues to have an impact and raise awareness of equines during the First World War:

  • Beautiful, delicate work, depicting an interesting history of World War One, well done the Minehead Quilters. (S B, Newton St Cyres)
  • Beautiful display, very informative. (Mr and Mrs T, Bideford)
  • Very nice needlework, Well Done, Very interesting subjects. (Mr and Mrs M, Sherborne, Devon)
  • The craftwork of this banner is amazing in itself, added to the information of each panel. It’s amazing. (P, Kent)
  • A fascinating quilt, beautifully done. (Mr and Mrs H, London)
  • So enjoyed looking closely at this beautiful quilt – the centre panel so clearly showing the terror experienced by the horse. Such Skill. (Mr and Mrs B, Whitford, East Devon)
  • Lovely depiction of what happened. Beautiful Workmanship. (V W, Plymouth)
  • The banner forcefully reminds us of the tremendous importance horses played in World War One. Beautifully executed and imaginatively conceived! (Mr and Mrs V, The Netherlands)
  • Wonderful to see such a lovely piece of work. (Mr and Mrs D)
  • Very impressive, well done. (K W)
  • Lovely handicraft! (L D)
  • Very thoughtfully crafted. (C M)
  • Beautifully worked and very interesting. (A C)
  • A lovely quilt, a nice way to remember the sacrifices of others. ( J W, Devon)
  • A beautiful quilt with lots of dedicated work, bringing back sad memories of the First World War. (P O, Okehampton, Devon)
  • What a lovely banner! Must have taken a lot of time and skill to make, well done!  (T F)
  • An amazing tribute and workmanship. We have been privileged to have displayed this banner in our museum. (Rose and Graham Ward, War Horse Valley)

Horses in the War banner on display in Axbridge Museum, Somerset (Photo: Jane Sharp)

The banner is now displayed in Axbridge Museum in Somerset and will be there until 30 October, 2019. The museum is housed in King John’s Hunting Lodge, a property owned by the National Trust which can be found in the centre of Axbridge.



6 April 2019

‘Horses in the War’ banner on display at ‘Lest We Forget’ event Somerset (Photo: Jane Sharp)

The ‘Horses in the War’ banner was displayed at a ‘Lest We Forget’ digital collection day organised by the West Somerset Family History Group on behalf of a project being run by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission/Foundation and Oxford University. This event was held at Williton Pavilion, Williton, Somerset and is one of a series being held across the UK to enable members of the public to bring along their First World War objects and stories. The stories are recorded and the objects either scanned or photographed for inclusion in a digital archive. The ‘Horses in the War’ banner and its accompanying panels formed part of a small exhibition for visitors to the event and it was very well received.  Other items were brought along by a West Somerset group of WW1 re-enactors including a First World War saddle which was a perfect addition to the banner.

16 March 2019

The completed banner and pop up panels (Photo: Jane Sharp)

Plans are underway to take our ‘Horses in the War’ banner on tour this year, so that we can continue to share stories of the role that equines played in the First World War and raise awareness of the lesser known campaigns in the Middle East. It is hoped that it will be displayed at War Horse Valley Country Farm Park, Iddesleigh, Devon, from Easter until the end of July. From August until mid-October, it will be displayed at Axbridge Museum in Somerset and in November it will be back in Devon at The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth.  More details will be posted here once dates have been confirmed.

5 December 2018

The completed ‘Horses in the War’ banner has been displayed at events over the last few weeks. After its first outing at the ‘Away from the Western Front’ conference in Bristol on 30 October it visited Chepstow (13 November) and Minehead (17 November). Further visits are planned over the coming weeks. There have been some excellent feedback from people who have seen it:

  • Beautiful and emotive, with much to think about.
  • Beautiful work and moving story.  Thank you.
  • My great-grandfather, George Ayres, fought in WWI in the Royal Horse Artillery.  He loved his horses and it broke his heart when they were hurt.  He survived every major battle, and came home, gassed, to his 5 year old son Bert, my grandad, who was so proud of him.  God bless you for this fantastic piece of important history!
  • A beautiful and moving tribute, congratulations to all who took part.
  • The banner is amazing, such beautiful detailed work telling the story of horses in the war so well.  The pop ups give great detail too, and enhance the story.  An amazing piece of work, thank you.


10 September 2018

The Minehead Quilting group started again after a summer break, on 5 September. The members had worked hard over the summer to finish their squares.  There are still two more to be finished completely but by seeing the squares all together it gave a good idea of how the final banner would look.

Historian Rita Tremain joined the meeting. She lives in Minehead and is involved with the Brooke charity for equine welfare.  Rita gave the group a very interesting insight into how the animals were sourced, where they were brought for rest and training before being sent to war, and how they were transported. She talked about Remount Stations 11 and 12 which were at Bratton Farm in Minehead, and even brought along a mule shoe, found at Bratton, to compare with a pony shoe. Everyone learned a lot from her talk and said how much they enjoyed it.

21 August 2018

The Minehead Quilting group has been working hard over the summer months, making stitched and appliqued squares for our banner project.  We arranged a ‘drop in’ day in July,  where they discussed their work and asked for advice from the other group members.  One quilter, Mary, took her square on holiday with her, and completed it on a cruise ship!

At our next meeting, at the start of September, the group will be joined by local historian Rita Tremain, who will speak about ‘Remount Stations’, where horses and mules were brought before being sent to war, re-training them for new types of work, and ensuring their health and condition.  Remount stations 11 and 12 were situated just outside Minehead, so very local for the Quilters’ group.

19 July 2018

Designs for the banner panels are beginning to come in thick and fast now, and the story is taking shape. These photos were taken at the Minehead Quilters’ meeting on 16 July.

8 July 2018

Jane Sharp with two completed panels, 8 July 2018 (Photo: AFTWF)

We enjoyed meeting Jane for an update on the project’s progress. It was lovely to be able to handle two of the completed panels which look even better than they do in the photos. We discussed the various equine topics which will form the basis of the interpretative banner and shared ideas for the possible inclusion of others. Jane explained how the individual panels will be sewn together and separated by sashing. The group is still considering whether the banner could be double-sided and will update us as the work progresses.


4 July 2018

Work is well under way, and several members of the quilting group have started putting needle to fabric (see below – click on any photo for a slide show containing larger versions). Here are some of their comments about the project:

  • Really interesting to tell someone’s story in a different medium that will hopefully appeal to a wide audience.  Alma
  • It has made me more aware of the terrible conditions the men were subjected to.  Barbara
  • Having personally visited Gallipoli it has made me aware of the difficulties of the terrain the soldiers encountered.  Rosemary
  • If I had known the horse was shot at the end I wouldn’t have done it!  I would have cried.  Avril

18 April 2018

The project got off to a good start when members of the Minehead Quilting Group met Susan Burnett who introduced the theme of the project, with particular reference to the story of her grandfather Norman Woodcock.