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A foal named Vimy

Vimy the foal with its mother and a friendly Canadian soldier.
Photo: Library and Archives Canada PA-001690

Life for Canadian soldiers in the First World War was tough. They often had to march for hours carrying a rifle, ammunition, a heavy sack, a gas mask, shovels and more. They were strong young men, but they needed help to get much needed supplies to the front lines. In fact, tonnes of ammunition and rations had to be hauled each day—about the weight of several elephants like Ellie! Thankfully hard-working pack horses helped ease the load.

Horses like me were the backbone of the army, and 50,000 were shipped from Canada overseas to carry supplies and pull artillery guns. With so many horses around, sometimes there were even baby animals born on the battlefield. One little horse was born on Vimy Ridge, and soldiers named the cute foal Vimy. It is neat to be named after something so important as this iconic Canadian battle of April 1917. For our soldiers, many of whom grew up on farms, looking after Vimy must have been a welcome break from the harsh life in the trenches. Having a young animal to care for helped keep their minds off their worries, even if it was just for a moment.

I like stories like this. After all, I am named in honour of my ancestor Bonfire who was the horse of John McCrae, the Canadian First World War army doctor who wrote the famous poem In Flanders Fields.

Bonfire Jr. the horse
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