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CAVC Officer and horse with gas mask
CAVC Officer and horse with gas mask

Shorncliffe, England Courtesy of Library Archives Canada's Digitized Collection

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Transporting wounded horse
Transporting wounded horse

Shorncliffe, England Courtesy of Library Archives Canada's Digitized Collection

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CAVC Officer's Hat
CAVC Officer's Hat

Courtesy of Library Archives Canada's Digitized Collection

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CAVC Officer and horse with gas mask
CAVC Officer and horse with gas mask

Shorncliffe, England Courtesy of Library Archives Canada's Digitized Collection

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The Canadian Army Veterinary Corps was responsible for the prevention and treatment of injury and disease. Following the outbreak of disease, veterinarians followed specific quarantine measures. However, following an injury, veterinarians were often forced to rely on "COMMON SENSE " to treat animals.[i] Horses were vital to the war effort. It was the job of veterinarians to maintain the integrity of this war effort in extreme conditions. 

[i] Prepared in the Veterinary Department, ANIMAL MANAGEMENT (London: His Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1908): 311.

 The highly decorated Captain Tamblyn, recorded the importance of horses to the war effort in his book dedicated to the famous horses of World War One. Tamblyn stated that Lieutenant General Sir A.C. Macdonnell argued “NO SHOE, NO FOOT; NO FOOT, NO HORSE; NO HORSE, NO TRANSPORT; NO TRANSPORT, NO BATTALION!”[ii] This simple statement allows one to understand the extent of the horse’s role in war and the necessary nature of preventative veterinary medicine.  

ii] D.S TAMBLYN, The Horse in War, and Famous Canadian Horses, 24.

As Tamblyn recognizes the importance of horses for mobilization, Blenkinsop and Rainey recognize a need for modernized forms of transport. Blenkinsop and Rainey include excerpts from Unit Diaries pleading for the use of a small car. An Assistant Director of Veterinary Services argues in March of 1915, that a light car is a “NECESSITY”[iii] He further acknowledges that Veterinary Services encounters disease “almost daily” and therefore the author further stresses, “THE LOSS IN EFFICIENCY AND THE COST OF A COMPARATIVELY SMALL BREAKOUT OF MANGE WOULD [WARRANT] THE COST OF A CAR AND ITS UPKEEP.”[iv] A light car would reduce the amount of time spent travelling an average of forty miles a day.[v] This would allow Officer’s more time to treat the horses.

[iii] - [v] BLENKINSOP & RAINEY, History of the Great War Based on Official Documents: Veterinary Services, 657.

The urgency illustrated above was substantiated in February of 1916 when The Globe and Mail proudly wrote of the “LOYALTY” of Horse Breeders and the Blue Cross in Canada to raise the $7000-$8000 needed to supply a small horse ambulance and several horses.[vi] One must recognize that the Canadian Government had many other expenditures to consider. However, as technologies modernized throughout the War, the horse remained an extremely important and yet fragile component. Reducing the time it took for veterinarians to reach and treat injured or sick horses would strengthen the Allied efforts and reduce wastage. 

[vi] “Canadian Breeders Give Horse Ambulance”, GLOBE & MAIL, February 14, 1916.

          This website acts as a resource to explore the remarkable efficiency of the CAVC in Worl War One. It recognizes the resources allocated to the CAVC and the state of veterinary science throughout the Great War.  Please navigate this page as you see fit and enjoy this historical account of the CAVC in World War One.

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