I have a copy of Michael Morpurgo's book if you want to take a peek.
From the Mail link :
And out of all of this I concluded that there was only one way to tell my story of this war.
It would be the story of a farm horse sold to the British cavalry and taken off to France.
The horse would be captured in the first cavalry charge of the war, and then used by the Germans to pull ambulances and guns, and he would winter on a French farm.
So this horse (I called him Joey after a foal we had on the farm) would witness the war on all sides, get to know Tommy and Fritz, and a French farming family, all of them enduring the horror of it, the pity of it.
It would be the horse's-eye view of the war, and best told by the horse himself.
Here was my greatest anxiety. For this to work, the reader would have to suspend disbelief instantly.
Get it wrong and it simply wouldn't work.
I had to believe not in the notion that horses could talk or write, of course, but that there could be real empathy between horse and man.
I remembered from Captain Budgett how attached the soldiers had become to their horses, how they had confided in them and would talk to them as best friends.
Is it suitable for Arrse ? It is written from the horse's perspective. You might ask one of our tame Battlefield Guides who has knowledge of the last use of cavalry in 1914 to give a view.
The sheer number of horses shipped to France to feed the war machine was astonishing...and as the book faithfully relates the vast majority were auctioned off after 1918....many to feed the local population.
Sort of a family connection....my grandfather's brother (Jack Owen) was RHA though I don't know which battalion . A high proportion of the artillery in use at the time was horse-drawn, not just the light guns.
I think Spielberg's film will cause people to look at that memorial in Park Lane with a little more appraising eyes than before.
Incidentally, his latest called 'Shadow' is about an explosive search dog in AFG.....surprised it hasn't been picked for a review here already.
( and I'm in the scene in the snow at the auction once all the shooting has died down...)
Sir Briggs, horse of Lord Tredegar, 17th Lancers, ridden at Balaclava, 1854, in camp in the Crimea, 1854. Oil on canvas by Alfred Frank de Prades (fl. 1844-83), 1856
While little is known about Sir Briggs beyond the evidence of this painting, it is certain that he was a survivor of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854. His owner, Captain the Honourable Godfrey Charles Morgan (later Viscount Tredegar, 1831-1913), commanded a squadron of the 17th Regiment of Light Dragoons (Lancers) in the famous charge, during the Crimean War (1854-56).
Due to a misinterpretation of orders, the British Light Cavalry Brigade charged Russian artillery stationed at the end of a long valley, while exposed to Russian fire on both sides. On reaching the Russian guns, they rode through them to charge Russian cavalry beyond. After some fighting, the remnants of the force returned along the Valley of Death (as described in Tennysons poem), under continued fire.
The number of horses killed was far higher than the 113 human lives lost in the charge. Of the 643 animals paraded that morning, over 370 were killed in action and another 85 returned, wounded.
A prominent Welsh landowner, Morgan sold his commission in January 1855 but continued to serve in the Royal Gloucestershire Yeomanry until 1875. He was Honorary Colonel of the Royal Monmouth Engineer Militia from 1885 and Member of Parliament for Breckonshire from 1858 to 1875.
As a young 'un I read the book and cried, alot, as an adult I recently reread it and still found it a great read - yes it's simple, but it is a childrens book at the end of the day. I want to see it on stage but at the moment time/money are against me. maybe one day Mr Scuba will take me (or not).
During filming they used a number of different horses to play the part of Joey - there was even an equine make-up artist to ensure they all looked the same (socks etc). Here's a pic of the back of one of them...