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image for Viewpoint/Beauty Spot item typeRoyal Army Veterinary Corps

Remount Depot

Royal Army Veterinary Corps

Royal Army Veterinary Corps

A Guard Horse rears backwards, while others run freely in a field.

Contact

Defence Animal Centre HQ

01572 747278

Address

Asfordby Road,
Melton Mowbray,
Leicestershire,
LE13

Details

The plaque on the Corn Cross commemorates the Royal Army Veterinary Corps being given Freedom of the Borough of Melton in 1977. From 1941 the Royal Army Veterinary Corps were responsible for the Remount Depot founded in 1903. Prior to this it was a stud farm for the breeding of horses. It is located on the outskirts of the town and has been a part of the history of Melton Mowbray for a long time.

The Remount Depot itself trained and looked after horses for the army, replacing older ones and caring for injured animals. The Remount Depot was unique in that it was '…the only one in England almost completely staffed with girl riders and grooms…' as a newspaper reported in 1945. Around this time their wages were 49 shillings and 8 pence for over-21s and 42 shillings and 8 pence for under-21s.

Duties of the people working at the Remount Depot were varied and hard, starting at 8am. These duties included feeding excitable horses, mucking out the stables, transporting animals to the station amongst others and it was important they were well-trained and looked-after as they performed essential functions during World War II that helicopters do now. Looking after troublesome animals was also a difficult duty. Recollections of the Remount Depot tell of a stubborn pony nicknamed 'Killer', perhaps called so because of his attempts to squash people when brushing him and in one case, biting arms causing very bad bruising.

The women working at the Remount Depot were connected to Melton Mowbray itself. Entertainment was sought in free time, often visiting the cinema or having the occasional tea at the Anne of Cleves, which we will visit later in the walk. A newspaper article also recounts a marriage in Melton Mowbray between a Remount Depot worker, Miss Kathleen Fielder and Flight-Lieutenant A. Sutherland, the reception was held at the King’s Head.

Following the end of World War II, by 15 February, 1946 the Remount Depot was militarized and all the civilian workers were replaced by soldiers and it has cared for some famous animals in the past. In 1982 a bomb set off in Hyde Park injured several people and army horses including Sefton. Sefton was treated at the Remount Depot and returned to active duty afterwards, showing both the skill and expertise of the centre and making the horse famous. Now the Defence Animal Centre, there are schools of Equitation, Farriery and Army Dog training. Three dogs trained at the centre, Sadie, Treo and Theo, have won the Dickin Medal - the Victoria Cross for animals.

This is the only military veterinary hospital left in the United Kingdom and makes Melton Mowbray very special. Items from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps are on display at Melton Carnegie Museum and include a dress cap from Lt. Col. Pope and sand shoes.

You can see items and pictures of the Defence Animal Centre's past at Melton Carnegie Museum.

Location

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Map reference: SK 737192  Lat: 52.76603 Long: -0.90824