Warhorse to Horsepower

Warhorse to Horsepower examines how the British Army became increasingly mechanical during the First World War and how cavalry units eventually gave up their horses for tanks during the 1920s and 30s.

In pre-1914 Britain, society was already replacing horse with petrol driven vehicles and some life-size talking horses in the exhibition tell you their stories of this time and their later experiences in the war. Text panels and set-piece scenes provide information on how horses were fed and cared for and the close relationships that developed between soldiers and their horses.

It is often said that tanks replaced horses in the First World War, but they both had important roles and were on the same team. On the Western Front the horse may have struggled in its traditional role as fighting cavalry but the horse in general excelled as a beast of burden – keeping the modern army supplied with food and weapons in the front line.*

Warhorse to Horsepower

Warhorse to Horsepower

Warhorse to Horsepower

Warhorse to Horsepower

In 1928 the 11th Hussars and the 12th Lancers transferred to Armoured Car Companies, making them the first Cavalry Regiments in the British Army to be mechanised. With budget constraints and some continuing opposition to change, it took another decade for the remaining Cavalry Regiments to give up their horses for armoured vehicles. Eventually, by 1939, The Royal Armoured Corps was formed, taking under its banner the Royal Tank Regiment and 18 out of 20 Cavalry Regiments.

Warhorse to Horsepower

*From The Tank Story – guidebook of The Tank Museum

16 Comments CherryPie on Sep 3rd 2019

16 Responses to “Warhorse to Horsepower – Bovington Tank Museum”

  1. The tank was seen by some as a means of breaking the deadlock on the Western Front, by being able to overcome defences and get round behind enemy lines in numbers. It’s a fascinating story and Bovington is a brilliant museum. Great photos, CP. Did you get a chance to see any of the live displays?

    • CherryPie says:

      I enjoy the museum. It shows the history of what I worked with daily in my working life.

      We didn’t get a chance to see any live displays during our visit.

      I have however been in the back of an armoured vehicle where the squaddies (the driver) thought it was amusing to drive civilians over the ‘knife edge’ at speed ;-)

  2. The Yum List says:

    That looks like an interesting place.

  3. There’s even a museum dedicated to tanks?
    You know, what we really need a Brexit Museum now.
    I wonder who should we invite to the opening ceremony…
    Johnson or Corbyn?
    None! We have to invite the Queen, for it has be a neutral thing, right? ;)

    • CherryPie says:

      Whatever our flavour of politics or whether we chose to leave or remain. One of those people you mentioned tried to deliver what the British people voted for. That is what democracy means.

      The British public voted to leave and ever since then those that voted the other way have been throwing their teddies out of the cot and stamping their feet asking for a re-vote.

      To take on the EU (a selected rather than elected body) you would have to take a hard line. It is about who blinks first. If the EU really thought we were about to leave they would be very quick to negotiate an acceptable deal.

      Many politicians have shown their true colours during the everlasting debate (even those rising out of the old woodwork). They are in it for themselves, they have no respect for the people who voted for them.

      Is ‘Traitors’ to strong a word for me to think about the politicians that oppose the people and democracy?

      Do a little research and find out who finally got the UK merged into the EU (rather than common amiable trading agreements etc) in a way that the British people never asked or voted for. He has risen from the woodwork too…

      The battle and debate that is going on now is not about Brexit or Remain it is about Democracy as opposed to Autocracy.

  4. Ayush says:

    i like the horse straining under the buckled cart, CP – and i can only imagine the suffering and horrors of war that were thrust on those beautiful creatures. the hulking form of the tank really looks unstoppable.

  5. lowcarbdiabeticJan says:

    I can remember visiting this museum a few years back … it was very interesting and enjoyable.

    All the best Jan

  6. A really interesting post. I’ve only been to the museum once as a child so my memories are somewhat hazy!

    • CherryPie says:

      I found that the museum had changed a lot since my previous visit (which was perhaps 10 years ago…).

      The improvements enhance the visitor experience. I hope you get the chance to visit again :-)

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