Monday, August 18, 2014

Hooves@War: 100 Years Ago Today, a Farrier Enlisted in Western Australia


Welcome to the first in a series of articles to bring to life some of the lost names and faces of real people who served the hoofcare needs of horses during World War I, which began 100 years ago this month.

The Australian government has been documenting the service of farriers during that war, and made a few biographical statistics available, as have sources in the United States and Great Britain.  The Hoof Blog will share common people and heroes and track down whatever photos and additional information can be found about these people.

Suggestions of people, family members, names on graves and monuments are welcome. Not everyone will be recorded, but the few who are should make it clear the important role that horses played in the war, and that farriers and veterinarians were hard at work to keep them shod and healthy. Whenever possible, the stories will be paired to important dates in the person's service.

A note about the painting in the header image: "Bringing Up the Guns" by Harold Septimus Power is one of the most powerful and realistic paintings of horses in contemporary war. Its subtitle is "Guns of the 101st Australian Battery moving up at the Battle of Passchendaele" (Belgium). Power, though born in New Zealand, studied painting in Paris and when the war began, was perfectly situated to take a job as official war artist for Australia. His most popular paintings portray horses. The Australian government has kindly waived the copyright on this beautiful image.

Meet the first hero: George Fardell, an Australian farrier veteran of the Boer War in Africa, who took 12 years off and re-enlisted 100 years ago today to do it all again.

George Fardell enlisted to shoe horses in the Great War on August 18, 1914, at Blackboy Hill in Western Australia.

It wasn't his first rodeo.

George Fardell, World War I farrier
George Fardell, farrier
for Australia in World War I
Twelve years had passed since George had been a farrier with the unit known as Kitchener's Horse, a conglomerate of multi-nationals fighting in the Second Boer War in South Africa on behalf of Queen Victoria.

And now, at 38 years old, he was heading out again.

He listed his employment as a carpenter and teamster, not a farrier, yet entered the military with the senior rank of a Sergeant Farrier attached to the 3rd Field Ambulance Reinforcements.

Before long, George was serving in the terrible battle of Gallipoli in Turkey, and then the rest of his three years' service in Egypt and in France.

The war wasn't quite over, but George headed home in advance, leaving England on July 22, 1917, and reaching Fremantle in Western Australia on September 13--that was over two months at sea.

World War II farriers from Australia
The Australian War Memorial archives has this photo of farriers shoeing a horse in World War II. Notice the fellow holding the horse, driver Ted Ortan. Like George Fardell, he served in the Boer War and World War I. But he signed up to serve in World War II, as well.

There's no record of George Fardell shoeing horses after that. World War II came and went but perhaps there weren't enough horses in that war to get him to enlist a third time, although some Australians did.

He lived to be 89.

And so it began, with one who had already been to war to shoe horses before stepping forward to go and do it all again.

George Fardell is all but forgotten. He's remembered here.


This short video features the horses of the famous Australian Light Horse (Cavalry), which was stationed in Egypt after Gallipoli, in order to defend the Suez Canal. They then embarked on various patrols and missions in what is today Gaza and Israel, the former Palestine.  While their exploits have been romanticized, they certainly were among the last great cavalries in history and the fate of the war was influenced by their amazing heroics and all-enduring Waler horses.

To learn more:
100 Years of Anzac: The Spirit Lives
History of the Waler Horse

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is the news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a headlines-link email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
Read this blog's headlines on the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page
Disclosure of Material Connection: The Hoof Blog (Hoofcare Publishing) has not received any direct compensation for writing this post. Hoofcare Publishing has no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned, other than products and services of Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.