Page 4 - Chiron Spring 2018
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 This edition really kicks off our Centenary Year, 100 years since we were granted the Royal prefix by King George V. There are some excellent contemporary articles by serving personnel, but also some very well researched historical articles which help us all to understand where we came from. These cover not only World War One, but also as recent as Kosovo in 2002.
We have much to be proud of, and the Centenary Dinner in St James's Palace in May and the Parade in Melton Mowbray on 27th July are key parts of our celebrations this year. It is interesting that the other two Corps awarded the Royal prefix at the same time as the AVC, the Army Service Corps
and the Army Ordnance Corps, no longer exist in their own right.
The RAVC have done well by adapting and continuing to show its value to military operations, switching from being predominately horse orientated to becoming the deliverers of world standard military working dog capability. Our unique mix of military animal capability with the embedded thread of veterinary care and leadership are envied by other veterinary corps around the world.
I hope you enjoy this edition of Chiron Calling, and appreciate the hard work that has gone into producing it.
Chief Veterinary Officer’s Foreword
By Colonel N C Smith QHVS BVetMed MSc MDA MA FRCVS
As the Corps celebrates the granting of a Royal Warrant, first published in Army Orders 27th November 1918, it is appropriate, in 2018, to briefly reflect on its evolution and maturity.1 It would be inappropriate to ignore the other “Horse Services” that worked closely with the Corps during its evolution. The Army Remount Department, which did not receive any honours for its work, and the Army Service Corps [ASC].
The Army Remount Department [ARD] was created in 1887, centralising the purchase of military animals. In 1891 responsibility for the personnel of remount depots was transferred to the ASC. The creation of centralised veterinary provision has a more complicated evolution from the late 1790s. An Army Veterinary Department [AVD] was created in 1859 for veterinary surgeons (officers) but subordinated to the Remount Department until 1913. A more unified Army Veterinary Service was created, in 1878, again only for veterinary surgeons. An Army Veterinary Corps [AVC] was created in 1903 for non-commissioned officers [NCOs] and other ranks. In 1906 the AVD (officers) and AVC (NCOs and men) were amalgamated, into one organisation, the Army Veterinary Corps [AVC]. A Special Reserve of Veterinary Officers was created in 1909, and the AVC Territorial Force [TF] in1910. So, on the outbreak of war in 1914 a central and unified system for the provision and care of military animals had only been in existence for some 30 years.
The Horse services were severely tested and found wanting during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. The ARD did not fail in its major role of providing the Army with a continuous supply of remounts. However, one would concur with the view
that the Department failed to listen to the advice and guidance of the Veterinary Service in restricting the freedom to use its professional skills to develop more humane and efficient practices in the field.2 The total lack of understanding about the use, care and management of horses in the field contributed to severe wastage, in excess of 380,000 animals of some 660,000 provided. The War highlighted that keeping a force mobile and well supplied was not simply about supplying large numbers of animals. The standard of horsemastership, availability of trained veterinary personnel, adequate veterinary stores and a level of co-operation and understanding between the Remount and Veterinary Services was crucial.
1907 saw the first attempt to create a separate veterinary directorate reporting directly to the Quartermaster-General [QMG]. Major-General Sir William Birkbeck,
The Horse services were severely tested and found wanting during the Anglo- Boer War of 1899-1902
Director of Remounts (1912-1920) wrote that the “Veterinary arrangement which put them under the Remount Director was quite wrong. The Veterinary College and the civilian side of the Veterinary profession felt keenly the subordinate position of the Army Vets.” When Major- General Pringle, DGAVS (1910-1917) put the whole case to Birkbeck asking for his support in putting the case to QMG, he “heartily agreed, and the Veterinary people
were put on their own.”3 A compromise was reached, placing the DGAVS in direct communication with the QMG on all matters connected with officers. In 1913 the Army Council sanctioned the DGAVS dealing directly with the QMG on matters of personnel and all questions of administration affecting the AVC. He was to collaborate with the Director of Remounts on all general horse questions affecting the practice of the Army, as distinct from technical and professional questions. The 1914 WO Listings show the AVC, for the first time, as not subordinate to Remounts.4
During the inter-war years the Corps kept abreast of scientific and technical advances, improving its organisation and administrative systems, so that on mobilisation and throughout the 1914-18 War, the Corps and its equipment was generally adequate in design and detail. Veterinary hospitals were sanctioned in 1904. The Mobile Veterinary Sections, created in 1913, were the most forward veterinary units for the evacuation of 250 sick and injured animals each from combat areas; linking field units and hospitals on the lines of communication. Every effort was made to obtain commitment from approved civilian veterinary practitioners to serve, in a civil capacity, with the AVC and ARD in the event of war. The Veterinary Field Manual (War) was prepared and ready for issue in August 1914, “every officer of our Service knew what his duties were in the Field”, so that the outbreak of war in 1914, “ found our Service prepared”.5
On mobilisation in 1914 the military horse establishment increased by 700%. The BEF had to be sustained in the field and resources expanded to ultimately
The Royal Army Veterinary Corps Evolution to Maturity – an Overview By Dr Graham Winton, PhD, FRGS, FRHistS, March 2018

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