First Word War Army Remount Depots - Request for Information

Photo:Sopwell Remount Depot

Sopwell Remount Depot

Copyright: Jacqui Banfield-Taylor

Remount Depots at Sopwell & St Albans

By Jacqui Banfield-Taylor

Part of the research I did for my book on the River Ver* included trying to find information on the above photo taken at Sopwell House during the First World War which became a Remount Depot for Army horses. The War Office, on behalf of the regular artillery, requisitioned horses from their owners – around £30 for a troop horse and £70 for an officer’s charger. These animals played a vital role in the victory of the allied armed forces. A total of 8 million horses, mules and donkeys died during the War, around 2 million from Britain, many as horrifically as the soldiers whose life often depended on them.

Royal Engineer shoeing staff were trained locally by the Park Street blacksmith Herbert Martin during the war. Upset by the rough way the horses were sometimes treated by the soldiers he chose to join the navy. These soldiers would have been farriers to the horses of the Remount Depot at Sopwell, just down the river as well as using their newly taught skills on the battle field.

At this time, the stables behind the Red Lion Inn near the river at Park Street were used by the Army to accommodate their horses and mules and would have been connected to the blacksmiths and remount depot at Sopwell. It was a short journey along the river for the horses from Sopwell to the blacksmiths in Burydell Lane and the Red Lion.

I am looking for more information and photos of the local Remount Depots, especially Sopwell and St Albans (there may have been more in the area as the requisition of horses was country wide), also any information on the River Ver and its surroundings during the two world wars.

I can be contacted by email at riverver [at]

* The River Ver, a Meander through Time, by Jacqui Banfield-Taylor (2012). Signed copies of this book with a free bookmark are available by contacting the author at the btinternet address above and can be delivered free locally.

This page was added by Jonathan Mein on 28/04/2013.
Comments about this page

Hands off our horses I'm involved in the SAHAAS First World War Project and, in searching through letters sent by the Town Clerk of St Albans in 1915, found the following gem relating to the requisition of horses. It was sent to the Officer Commanding No 3 Company, ASC, 176th Brigade, 59th (NOrth Mid.) Division: Earmarking Horses I have submitted your Memorandum S. 2174 to the Town Council of this City who instruct me to inform you in reply that the exigencies of maintaining the city in a sanitary condition will not admit of their placing at the disposal of your Unit, the 6 horses referred to in your letter and they must therefore request you to make other arrangements. The total number of Horses belonging to the Corporation is only 11 and the Corporation are themselves having to hire horses at the present time to enable the essential work of the City to be carried out. Sue Mann

By Sue Mann
On 09/05/2013

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