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The Value of Horses

Heroes Remember

Our drivers were well trained, very well trained. And they really felt in place when it came to open warfare, but we lost an awful lot of horses. We, at the time, were all mated up one way or another. At the end of the war we had mules, horses, and all mates of all type. We lost an awful lot of horses. See, they couldn’t duck. And then, at various times when we were advancing and where a horse had been killed, we saw where the Germans were cutting steaks out of them. We saw that quite often. Horse meat is eaten a lot in those countries, and we saw alot of horses cut open that were killed. And, of course, we saw our own horses get killed. I felt more for a horse than I did for a man for some strange reason, at the time, just at the time. I thought, these poor things are being dragged here. We know what we’re doing, they don’t.

Mr. Pitcairn describes the value of horses, both as work animals and as a food source for the Germans.

James Pitcairn

James Pitcairn was born in Kirkintilloch, Scotland on May 3, 1897. The second of four children, he moved to Vancouver with his widowed mother in 1911. At the age of thirteen, he was working as an elevator boy when a truancy officer sent him back to school, which he attended for five years. In Vancouver, Mr. Pitcairn was twice denied enlistment because of his small size; however, he joined friends in Kingston, Ontario and was accepted there as a member of the 50th Battery, Queens Artillery on March 7, 1916. He trained as a horse artilleryman at Petawawa. Mr. Pitcairn sailed for England aboard the SS Olympia in August, 1916. He had further training at Camp Whitley and was finally sent to France as a member of the 52nd Field Artillery, 5th Division. Mr. Pitcairn’s service saw him in action at Lens, Vimy, Hill 70, Amiens, Drocourt-Queant and Valenciennes as the layer on an 18-Pound artillery gun. One hundred and two at the time of his interview, Mr. Pitcairn’s clear voice and photographic memory offer some very informative descriptions of the Artillery’s role in the First World War.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
James Pitcairn
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
50th Battery

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