Dorset-based Army Reservists from The Royal Wessex Yeomanry donned the battle dress of their Great War forebears this week to help launch a new ‘Warhorse to Horsepower’ exhibition at the nearby Tank Museum, Bovington.
Trooper Marcus Cribb and Trooper Kieran Sherring shared the limelight with Adam, a 23-year-old horse belonging to A Squadron’s clerk, Elizabeth Humphreys.
The new display examines the role of horses before, during and after the First World War, with the emphasis on the Army’s transition from horsed cavalry to armoured vehicles and the reasons behind this major shift in land warfare.
The story starts just before World War 1 and takes visitors all the way through to the start of the Second World War when armoured vehicles had largely replaced the horse at war.
With the original vehicles and model horses, a host of interactive displays and dramatic imagery, it is hoped ‘Warhorse to Horsepower’ will appeal to all ages and do justice to the experience of both men and horses from 1914 to 1939.
The exhibition was opened by TV military historian Dan Snow who said: “Warhorse to Horsepower tells one of the key stories of the First World War. It isn’t one of suffering and futility, but one of innovation. If you want to find out about the real stories behind the wonderful Warhorse fiction, come here to the best museum in the UK to hear them.”
Trooper Cribb, a student at Portsmouth University, is a relative newcomer to the Army Reserve but is hoping to be commissioned as an officer later this year. Trooper Sherring is self-employed and lives in Bridport.
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, which has other Squadrons in Devon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, is the only Armoured Reinforcement unit in Britain, working closely with the Army’s three Regular armoured units.
For the last 15 years, the Regiment’s role has been to supply the Regulars with individual gunners and loaders on the Challenger 2 tank. Under the new Future Reserves 2020 proposals, it will be providing full four-man crews, including the tank commander.
It means that it is one of only a handful of Reserve units to be part of the British Army Reactive Forces, which are held at a state of higher readiness, prepared to deploy anywhere around the world.
As part of the Government’s £1.2bn investment to revitalise the Army Reserve, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry also trains on a recently delivered fleet of Wolf Scout Land Rover vehicles.
A (Dorset Yeomanry) Squadron, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, continues to attract new recruits. For more information call 01929 402013, or to find out about opportunities as an Army Reservist visit www.army.mod.uk/join/20237.aspx
For more information about the exhibition and other displays at the Tank Museum, visit http://www.tankmuseum.org/