Steeds and shellfire on the Western Front
The horses that were sent to the Western Front during the First World War faced many of the same difficulties as the soldiers that they served. Horses were used to transport officers, heavy artillery and other equipment to the front lines. The artillery conveyed by these horses was an essential element of the military strategies that developed on the battlefront. The Battle of the Somme in 1916 in particular saw the first widespread use of the ‘creeping barrage’, a strategy designed to provide cover for an advancing line of infantry.
Leonard Leary was a law student in Wellington who first served in Samoa after joining up in 1914 and then joined the British Royal Artillery and fought at the Battle of the Somme. In this 'Spectrum' radio documentary from 1982 he recalls both the trials of controlling horses amid the confusion of a battlefield and the use of the creeping barrage at the Somme.
The rush to enlist
Leonard Leary was a law student at Victoria College (now Victoria University) when war was declared in August 1914. Fiercely patriotic, he was among the men who rushed to sign up to fight at the earliest opportunity. In this extract from a 1982 radio documentary, Leary recalls the heady days when war broke out. He headed down to the Wellington wharves with a group of fellow pro-Empire students to express his support for the war effort, and to enlist in the NZEF.