Mary Baird, a client of Chesterton House since our early days, was fascinated by the story of Songster. Her interest led to a recent ceremony to install a memorial on the grave of this old Loughborough War Horse….
If you’re familiar with the famous story ‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo, you’ll know that horses were very much a part of the First World War, which took place at the dawn of the motor age.
In 2011 Stephen Spielberg was launching his highly successful film based on the book, and the story was picked up by the staff of Loughborough’s Carillon Museum. They recognised that the Town had its very own real War Horse in the form of Songster, who had served on the battlefields and was one of 62,000 horses to survive the conflict. About eight million mules and horses died in the war and thousands more were slaughtered at the war's end, so Songster was one of the lucky ones.
Songster was 14 in 1914 so was considered somewhat old and small for a war horse at the time. He was lucky to have been found again in France by his yeomanry rider, Bert Main, and then bought again at auction in London by those who were aware of his strength of character. That he survived so long was down to his ‘indomitable spirit’, the care and love he had, both in France and back again in England, and (says Mary) no doubt a perverse streak that kept him going!
He was brought to West Beacon Farm in Woodhouse Eaves under the charge of ex-squadron Sgt Major Harry Poole, where he became a local celebrity, and went on to live a long and happy life, helped perhaps by the beer that he drank in The Old Boot Hotel in Loughborough!
Songster died in his stable on the farm in 1940. He was buried there with the medal ribbons he had earned. After that his story was forgotten, until the interest in the ‘War Horse’ film rekindled interest in his illustrious life.
Songster’s original grave marker is on display at Loughborough Carillon Museum, but working with the Leicestershire Yeomanry Association and the Museum, Mary arranged for a replica grave marker to be made, had it properly painted and on Sunday 3rd June, it was placed on Songster’s grave in a ceremony with military participation.
Mary is now working on a children’s book telling the fascinating story of Songster’s life, starting with his recruitment to the Yeomanry at the beginning of WW1 and following his life to the end. If you’re interested in Songster’s story, let us know and we’ll aim to update you when the book becomes available.
The book - titled "Songster: Loughborough's Own War Horse" - is now officially published!
Mott tells the true story of Songster, a horse that was considered somewhat old and small for a war horse at the time, and his service with local Yeoman Bert Main on French battlefields in World War One.
That he survived so long was down to his ‘indomitable spirit’, the care and love he had, both in France and back again in England, and (says Mary) no doubt a perverse streak that kept him going! He was brought to West Beacon Farm in Woodhouse Eaves, where he became a local celebrity, and went on to live a long and happy life, helped perhaps by the beer that he drank in The Old Boot Hotel in Loughborough!
As you can see we've already got our beautifully illustrated copy (illustrated by Liz Waddell), which you are more than welcome to read when you next visit Chesterton House, however it is also available to buy for £6.99 from Charnwood Museum (Queen's Park, Loughborough) or from eBay.
We love to know what our clients are up to, if you have a story to tell please let us know and we'd be delighted to share it.