How many horses died in WW2?

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  • Post last modified:June 1, 2023
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Little discussed among the many tragedies that came along with world war II was the massive killing of pets. 

While thousands of human beings lost their lives in this great event, we often overlook the many animals that sacrificed their lives too. Especially, during the world war, not many are aware of how many horses died in WW2. 

That said, this article is about all these brave soldiers on fours and wings who, along with our soldiers on foot, gave up their lives for World War II. 

How Many Horses Died In WW1?

How many horses died in ww2? Brown and White Stallions Running in a Field.

According to sources, World War I saw the death of over 1,00,000 horses. The war used millions of horses, with soldiers charging on horseback.

Thousands of them were shipped to Europe each day. Millions of horses were brought in from the US, and some of them from Canada too. 

Horses had to work in extreme conditions, and several died due to exhaustion and disease. 

Shipping fever was common even with all the regular checks during the voyage. 

And then, there were the remaining wounded and injured from serving amidst all the fighting vessels and submarines. 

It was a sad sight, with horses found dead with gas, gunshots, and other weapons. 

How Many Horses Died In WW2?

About two to five billion horses died in World War II.  The good news is that World War II, and the advancements in technology that arrived by then, saw a reduction in the use of horses that were no longer needed in leading the attack.

Sadly, horses were still in use to carry guns and other ammunition. 

Horses were now made to wear masks and carry much heavier weapons. A lot of them were found dead along the way. 

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How Many Animals Died In WW2?

Homeless cat fighting with dog on street

Although it’s hard to estimate the exact number of animals that died during World War II, it’s known that countless animals lost their lives.

The people couldn’t care for and feed their pets, so they had to euthanize them – 750,000 in Great Britain alone. 

Farm animals were slaughtered beyond sustainable limits in plunder and scorched earth. Wild animals died as collateral damage in battle, but we have no reliable numbers for how many.

Owners were asked to destroy their pets in the wake of the upcoming emergency, where food would soon be scarce and insufficient to feed cats and dogs. 

A notice was sent to all animal owners, and while this was met with a good amount of opposition, there was only so much that vets and animal charities could do. 

This brought many pets to hospitals and dispensaries to be destroyed as pet owners believed that this could save their pets from all the violence they would soon have to face. 

What Were The Horses Used For During The First Battle?

In the first battle, the horses were used for moving supplies and equipment like guns and ammunition, which were considered crucial among the nations. 

The army was known to have purchased over 4,60,000 horses, which increased as horses were added overseas.

Owners at home had to surrender their horses which meant they could no longer use them for their own transport and agricultural needs.  

How Were War Horses Treated?

Brown Horse

For one, the horses were all kept under a census, and then they were treated severely. There were people to monitor how much they ate and the kind of work they were suited for.

Horses, in other words, were treated as another piece of equipment, with everything about them listed, from their nearest station to little details like the forms, labels, and money that was included in purchasing them. 

Physically, the horses suffered, too, with many of them facing injuries that came with the battle. Some suffered severe skin disorders that often went unattended.

And then there was poison gas, artillery fire, and all those things that World War I that the poor horses had to put up with and which further injured and overwhelmed too.

And that is how the horses were treated. Rest assured that it was not a very pretty sight for the horses and now for us humans too. 

Who Is The Most Famous War Horse?

The most famous war horse was Sergeant Reckless from America. She was made to march at the frontline, carrying all the ammunition needed during the Korean War.

And that is the kind of arduous task that our horses were meant to carry out when they were sent out in battle. 

Sergeant Reckless died in May of 1968, and with that, she has left a legacy so great that you have an entire movie that tells all about her today. 

This was a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and tells the fantastic story of the stressful conditions that the horse had been through, surviving bombs and bullets with incredible courage as she served as a mascot to her troops. 

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What Was The Last War With Horses?

White Horse On A Field

Thanks to the introduction of trench warfare and machine guns, the era of horses in war almost ended. 

However, the horses still carried guns and other weapons, with masks to protect themselves from the poison gas. 

They were no longer used at the forefront to carry fighting soldiers into battle.

However, the recent war in Afghanistan still made use of horses that the US forces rode on them due to a lack of automobiles. 

How Many German Horses Died In WW2?

Horses always played an essential part in the lives of Germans, and this is more so in World War II, where the nation had to use about three million horses to fight against a massive troop of tanks and other armored vehicles. 

Some horses were also made to haul, while the rest carried their soldiers on horseback. 

Of these, 7,50,000 were estimated to have been killed, becoming soldiers that had to sacrifice their lives for the cause of world war II. 

Closing Thoughts

All this brings one central question to mind. Does a horse feel happy about going out to war? Did any of the horses feel satisfied with entering the two wars?

War is not a source of excitement to any horse, which is happy at home with its owner, in its stable, or perhaps even out galloping on the racing course, anywhere but out of the battlefield, so why not be more merciful to them? 

We will not send them back there again, will we?  

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have seen almost everything that you didn’t know about horses being killed in World Wars 1 and 2 let’s end with a few FAQs. 

Q1. How many horses survived in WW1?

Ans: 2.5 million horses survived World War I. These horses were taken to vets and treated. Horse hospitals took up nearly 2000 wounded animals at a time and healed them. However, most of them were returned to resume work on the battlefield. 

Q2. What happened to the horses after WWI?

Ans: Some died in the course of the war. The ones that survived were sent for work abroad. Many were sold for labor. However, on a good note, buyers were well investigated to ensure the proper treatment of these horses. So, for the ones that survived, things ended well.

Q3. What was the famous World War 1 horse?

Ans: Her name was Warrior, and she was famous because the Germans just couldn’t kill. Quite a hero this one emerged to be. Warrior hailed from the Isle of Wight and fought bravely on the front lines of World War I till her return to the UK in December of 1918. 

Q4. What war was the most brutal?

Ans: There are only two world wars; the second was much more brutal than the first for horses and humans. The war killed 70 million people and two to five billion horses. Now that speaks for itself. 

Q5. How many horses lost their lives in the civil war?

Ans: Till the era when vehicles replaced horses, wars have always killed these poor animals that served as innocent victims giving up their lives for us in battle. And that said, over a million horses died in the civil war.

Q6. Does the Russian Military Have Horses?

Ans: According to one of the latest censuses, Russia has about 1.3 million horses. However, these horses are all found in households. In other words, Russia is no longer a country that uses horses to go out to battle. Some countries that still use horses to protect their borders are India, China, Jordan, and even some first-world countries like Germany, Chile, and the US. The UN, too, makes use of horses to carry out its peacekeeping forces.