Page 17 - Chiron Autumn 2018
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the road by 10.30 p.m. that evening, as the enemy were expected to shell it, and the roads leading to and from it, about that time.
I enjoyed myself so much that had it not been for Macaulay, I should have been like Cinderella, for he suddenly jumped up and said, “Jove! Steadman! It is nearly 10 o’clock, and we have to get off the road before 10.30.” We hastily said good-bye to our friends, and mounted our horses, and turned their heads towards home. It was ticklish work, getting away from the village in the dark, as the noise of the guns made the horses very restive, and on the stone cobbles of the village street, they could not get a proper foothold. Moreover, we half expected a shell over any moment.
Just as we were leaving, some guns came dashing through the village, making a tremendous noise, and scaring Redwing nearly out of this life. However, we got clear of the village safely, and rode back in the beautiful moonlight. This morning, we hear that a few minutes after we left, a gas attack was launched and came through the village.
After just four months on the Western Front it became apparent that Steadman’s unit would soon be leaving France. They were ordered to move, by a series of route marches, in a south-westerly direction and discovered that they were to set sail from Marseilles bound for Salonika. Once again Steadman rode alongside the marching soldiers and, in his letter dated 30th October 1916, he mentions how an unfortunate mishap occurred.
I was Medical Officer to the column both days, and had to ride up and down, up and down, all the time. The weather was rotten. Pouring all the time. I had an accident: I was riding up to the head of the column and tried to pass a huge A.S.C. lorry, between the lorry and one of our wagons, when Redwing shied badly, and forced me violently against our wagon.
My right foot was caught, and dragged the whole length of the wagon splash board. It hurt like fun! That was on Friday, and I have been limping ever since. It has not broken the bone I think, but it is so painful today that I am getting Preston to look at it tonight. The foot does not hurt to ride – only to walk.
Redwing evidently did not enjoy the sea journey from Marseilles to Salonika. He had to be left behind at Salonika when Steadman’s unit disembarked and travelled on into Macedonia. According to his letter dated 28th December 1916 Steadman was much relieved when Redwing recovered sufficiently to rejoin him.
Tonight an old friend has arrived from Salonika. Old Redwing! I was so pleased to see him. I had left him behind when I came away, as he had only just
come off the boat, and was very ill. He always knocks up on a journey. He hates travelling!
However the winter in Macedonia was severe and, according to Steadman’s letter dated 25th February 1917, his horse suffered badly from the harsh weather.
Redwing is ill, and has been for some time. The bitter weather has very nearly killed him, but since it has changed he has picked up a bit. I still hope to save him if we get no more bad weather.
According to a letter dated 6th May 1917 Redwing’s future now hung in the balance
Redwing took a long time to recover sufficiently for Steadman to ride him again and during this time he rode several other horses which he does not mention by name. According to a letter dated 6th May 1917 Redwing’s future now hung in the balance.
Poor old Redwing is still ill. While I was ill he lay down one day apparently to die, but was revived with half a pint of neat brandy; he liked this, so later he tried it on again, but this time had a big injection of strychnine, which he did not think so much of. The vet wanted to send him to the Base to have him shot two weeks ago, but I begged him off, and he has given him another fortnight in which to show some improvement. He is improving slowly.
It was not until June that Redwing had recovered sufficiently for Steadman to ride him and by that time the unit had moved on to Egypt.
I rode Redwing two days ago and again yesterday, for the first time since
Figure 3 – Steadman on Redwing in France 1916
January; he is very much better, but still very thin. He was quite chirpy yesterday, and shied at everything he saw. He hates Arabs, also camels. We see heaps of them both here.
However, Redwing had a fall in early July from which he did not recover.
I had a fall with Redwing today. I was riding at a fast trot on a good road when I suddenly came on to a piece of asphalt. Out here, with the dust and no rain, this stuff gets highly polished, and slippery as ice. I came on it so suddenly that I had no time to avoid it. I had just got on it when one of poor Redwing’s front legs spread out to the right, and the other to the left. I was trying to prevent his falling by pulling him up, when his near hind leg slipped too, and down we came together. He hit his poor nose very hard on the road and grazed his three legs which had slipped.
Five days later Steadman wrote that Redwing had been sent to hospital and was unlikely to return to duty.
Yesterday I was sad because I lost my old friend Redwing. He developed tendon trouble, probably as a result of his fall the other day, and we had to send him to the Base Sick Hospital for horses. He will not be fit for the heavy work we shall have in the near future for some months. I hate parting with old friends, like you do. He will not come back to this Unit again I expect.
Soon after Redwing’s hospitalisation Steadman’s unit crossed the Suez Canal and proceeded by rail across the Sinai Desert to join General Allenby’s forces in Palestine. In his letter dated 13th July 1917 he described how he had been allocated a new horse.
My new horse is called ‘Diana’. She is Redwing’s great rival. Sergeant Stimson of the Transport wants Diana, so when I asked him what he thought of her he told me long tales of how very dangerous she was to ride! I said ‘Good, that’s just the kind I like.’ He did look sick! I have ridden several times lately and as I thought, I found her quite all right.
On 28th July 1917 he described how he had ridden Diana to carry out a reconnaissance so that he could act as guide for a unit move which was to be undertaken at night.
This morning I was sent to carry out a long reconnaissance, as we move south eastwards to-morrow (Sunday) night. I rode altogether about twenty-four miles, and had to find my way entirely by map and compass. I found out where we are to bivouac the night, and the nature of the country, so that I can guide our unit there. It will be no easy matter in the darkness though to find the way.

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