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Today someone was commenting about an article referring to the number of horses killed in the US Civil War. He stated somewhere around 175,000.

I casually said, "That's nothing compared to WWII".

Another fella said "WWII, I doubt it".

I think there is a misconception about the number of horses, pack animals, etc. that were utilized in WWII.

Does anyone have rough numbers about how many horses were actually killed in WWII? I said at the time it was in the millions, but would like to have a firm source for numbers.

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dunno about WW2, but I read somewhere in the last few days that there weer several million horses killed in WW1, and veternerian sevfices in France treated some 2.5 million, of which 2 million could be returned to service!

Germany had about 750,000 horses in service when they invaded Russia.

[ November 20, 2006, 07:42 PM: Message edited by: Stalin's Organist ]

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Lone Sentry -

"the numerical strength of German Army horses maintained during the entire war period averaged around 1,100,000."

"Of the 322 German Army and SS divisions extant in November 1943, only 52 were armored or motorized. Of the November 1944 total of 264 combat divisions, only 42 were armored or motorized.

"The great bulk of the German combat strength—the old-type infantry divisions—marched into battle on foot, with their weapons and supply trains propelled almost entirely by four-legged horsepower. The light and mountain divisions had an even greater proportion of animals, and the cavalry divisions were naturally mainly dependent on the horse.

"The old-type German infantry division had approximately 5,300 horses, 1,100 horse-drawn vehicles, 950 motor vehicles, and 430 motorcycles.

"In 1943, due to the great difficulties in supply and upkeep of motor vehicles in the wide stretches of the Eastern Front, the allotment to divisions in that theater was reduced to approximately 400 motor vehicles and 400 motorcycles, and the number of horses was increased to some 6,300.

"The 1944-type divisions had about 4,600 horses, 1,400 horse-drawn vehicles, 600 motor vehicles, and 150 motorcycles.

"The only fully motorized unit in the old-type infantry division was the antitank battalion. Most of the divisional supply trains were horse drawn, motor vehicles being used chiefly to transport fuel and for the workshop company."

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As for the Russians, they fielded 20 cavalry corps and at one time or another over 100 cavalry divisions. There were only a handful of cavalry divisions in the German army, each somewhat larger though, and a few more in the Axis minors and Russian units serving for the Germans.

US use of animals for transport was small, but still included 14000 mules for mountain pack trains and such.

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James F. Dunnigan, the wargame designer and author, in "dirty little secrets of WW II", estimates total horse losses in the German army alone at 2.7 million, nearly double German service horse losses in WW I (1.4 million). He says the loss rate averaged 1000 horses a day. He says the total number used remains unknown.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

Lone Sentry -

"the numerical strength of German Army horses maintained during the entire war period averaged around 1,100,000."

Doesn't Lone Sentry rely on wartime Allied publications for their figues? Most are probably ok, one or two might be suspect. Alex Büchner talks about them in GERMAN INFANTRY HANDBOOK. According to budgeting stats, the German Army started the war with 573,000 horses, by 1940 had 771,000.

The 1st winter in Russia saw 179,600 horses lost (and only 20,000 replaced) from 1 Dec 1941 to 15 Mar 1942.

He estimates 3 million horses in service during the war, with 1.7 million losses. "The unofficial figures cannot be determined but they were surely much higher."

He cites on division as a case study: Infanterie Division 198 alone had a complement of 4600 horses in Russia; by November 1941 only 3100 were alive "and fully 1200 of them could scarcely stand up and were completely out of the question as draft horses." They were later restored to health by the Veterinary service officers and NCOs - and supplemented by 1600 Panjes (smaller Russian ponies).

Do the German figures take into account these Russian ponies? Panjes were quite common also.

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Dunnigan also gives figures for horses in the German army at various days, and it is rising - 750k at the time of Barbarossa, 1.1 million in mid 1944, 1.2 million peak.

The operative issue is ability to feed them at the front, not ability to find them. Horses are notoriously inefficient supply animals. Out of 5 horses used in a supply system, 2 are just feeding the horses themselves etc. You can get the same kind of things with trucks when they have a ~500 mile supply line, but it is par for horses.

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I have heard an estimate of 5 million horses killed during WW2 on all sides.

What is suprising is the very small number of memorials to their loss. I know of only one statue in Britain at the Animal Defence Centre (?) and a stained glass window in a church in Norfolk. Again I know of only one in Germany in Hannover - the main horse bredding area.

Anyone know of any others?

cheers

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Don't forget to add in the horses lost in the Pacific threater. The Japanese Army in China and Burma relied a great deal on horse power.

Both sides used horses and mules in the Burma campaign.

Somewhere there was a Kiwi site that talked about the amount of horses that were used up and who never came back.

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Originally posted by SlapHappy:

Today someone was commenting about an article referring to the number of horses killed in the US Civil War. He stated somewhere around 175,000.

I casually said, "That's nothing compared to WWII".

Another fella said "WWII, I doubt it".

I think there is a misconception about the number of horses, pack animals, etc. that were utilized in WWII.

Does anyone have rough numbers about how many horses were actually killed in WWII? I said at the time it was in the millions, but would like to have a firm source for numbers.

I think his figure on the US Civil War is way too low as well.
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I wonder what proportion of the European horse population that works out to. In 1905 (to pick a random date) Europe was basically horse-powered, they were corralled behind every middle-class home. Forty years later?

I recall a story that during the Boer war the Brits were so low on horse transport due to attrition that they commandeered horses used in public transport to ship to the front. Soldiers were obliged to ring a trolley bell behind them In order to get these horses to move on command!

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On the subject:

HORSES OF THE GERMAN ARMY IN WORLD WAR II

Paul Louis Johnson ( Available June 2006 )

Horses made up 80% of the German army in WWII and this unique study covers their uses, logistics, performance, and tactics under many circumstances. More than 500 color and black and white photographs. 2006: 240 pages, 8 1/2"" x 11"". (Schiffer)

ISBN:0764324217

5F8B Price: $59.95

Scholar's Bookshelf

500 pictures in 240 pages? Very few words because horses can't read.

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