Check out one of E.C.V.M.M.'s unique World War I artifacts
Written by Rhonda L. Krebs
A Black Hunter who died in July 1916 in The Great War after doing his bit in the Battles of Messines Hooge 1915 Hill 60 Hohenzollern Redoubt Vimy Ridge The Somme 1916
For me, visiting the Edgecombe County Veterans’ Museum is like stepping into a Kaleidoscope. There are so many things to see that it isn’t humanly possible to see it all in one trip. Every visit brings fresh discovery. For example- I only recently took notice of an artifact from WWI. It is a memento honoring the War Horse Felix. The lid is hinged. Inside is a square well deep enough to hold wooden matchsticks. The information inscribed on the lid is as good as a DD214 for Felix the War Horse. The Internet provides easy access to the stories behind the battles in which Felix served.
Through the miracle of Google searching I have learned that it was common in British culture during the Victorian and Edwardian eras to make such keepsakes out of beloved horses. Keep in mind that the internal combustion engine was still new at the dawn of the 20th Century and not yet commonplace by 1915. The Great War or World War One as we tend to call the conflict in the USA was a mechanized war. We had trucks, cars, ambulances and WWI gave birth to the tank. On the downside- most roads were not yet paved and would become impassible when muddy. Horses and mules were still necessary to the war effort. A great many were sacrificed on the battlefield; trudging the roads with supplies or wounded soldiers. At one of the sites I visited I learned that over 6,000 horses and mules died at the Battle of The Somme in which Felix also lost his life. Why was his hoof made into a match box? How did it end up in Tarboro North Carolina when the epitaph is clearly British in wording? I do not yet know the answers to those mysteries… but I did pick some of the better sites I visited about each particular battle in which Felix served.
Battles of Messines Hooge 1915
Hill 60 Hohenzollern Redoubt
(Felix’ participation in battle at Vimy Ridge must have been during one or both of the two previously unsuccessful allied attempts to take that piece of ground as he had passed and been rendered into mementoes by the time the Canadians triumphed in 1917)
The United States of America had not entered the war in time for the first Battle of The Somme in 1916; but many Americans were serving in the British Armed forces at that time. Perhaps that is how this relic ended up in Edgecombe County- a local man who served, survived and brought it home. Maybe it was carried over by a son or daughter after the Second World War . The Hoof of Felix the War Horse- One of many mysteries to be found (perhaps even solved) at the Edgecombe County Veterans’ Museum.