The second installment the Military History Podcast Series features a presentation by University of Calgary PhD Candidate Andrew McEwen, entitled “’On the go all the time’: The Canadian Army Veterinary Corps in 1918.”
McEwen’s presentation focuses on draught animals during 1918, especially during the Hundred Days Campaign. He stresses that while WWI is often viewed as having a boom in technology – with new weapons being invented and utilized – many soldiers still depended heavily on horses and mules for both logistics and combat. He highlights efforts by military veterinarians, and emphasized how small their numbers were compared to the amount of horses that were being utilized by the Canadian Army in Europe. Because these animals were “on the go all the time” they suffered from various injuries, which required constant attention. This period also saw a spike in physical wounds from battle compared to previous sickness and disease. McEwen emphasizes that the animal treatment process was integrated throughout the British Expeditionary Force, with wounded animals being sent to whichever hospital was nearby. Between August and November of 1918, roughly 42% of horses were treated on the field rather than in hospitals, which allowed for such horses to stay with their units. McEwen concludes by conveying that the animal strengths of the fighting divisions were not seriously compromised by the heavy fighting of the Hundred Days Campaign.