Dora Spencer letter, 1916

Dora Spencer letter

Letter from Dora Spencer to Minister of Defence James Allen, 19 March 1916, regarding her favourite riding mare.

Dora Spencer of Tolaga Bay wrote to the authorities several times from early 1916 asking for the return of her ‘favourite riding mare’ from Egypt. They responded that ‘no horse’ could be repatriated from Egypt because of the risk of introducing diseases. But they also reassured her that her horse would not be cast aside at the end of the war:

There is little danger of your mare being ill-used, as, when the war is over, all horses will go into a Remount Depot, and will be issued again to the Army, where she will most likely end her days in peace.

This advice proved to be overly optimistic. At the end of the war the horses serving with the New Zealanders in Egypt were pooled with other British army horses in the Imperial Remount Depot. The fittest were initially kept by the Depot. Others fit for work were sold locally, while those deemed unfit were killed. The number of horses retained by the Depot greatly exceeded the requirements of the army of occupation in Egypt. And the British government faced the same circumstances that prevented the New Zealand government bringing horses home – an acute shortage of transport and quarantine restrictions. Many of the horses that were retained initially were subsequently killed or sold locally.

See also New Zealand Society for the Protection of Women and Children and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals letter expressing concern about the fate of horses.


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