If you enjoyed War Horse on Sunday night you’ll love the story of Cupid, the real War Horse.
The bay mare was given to Vernon Laurie as a 15th birthday present in 1911 and the pair spent the next three years hunting in Essex. Then, in 1914, when war was declared, Vernon, who’d just finished school, and his father, Randal, began preparing the family’s horses Cupid, Nimrod, Flashlight and Polly for battle. They also bought 131 more horses for the army, which were trained on the Essex coast.
For more than four years father and son travelled thousands of miles with these horses on the front line, from the trenches of northern France to the blistering heat of Beirut, suffering from sunburn, horrific injuries and exhaustion.
Cupid’s War, the story of Vernon’s courageous mare and the Laurie’s other horses, echoes that of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse – and is every bit as tearjerking. It has been written by Vernon’s grandson, Martin Laurie, a retired farmer from Essex, and portrays the loyal and lasting friendships that were formed between soldiers and their horses during battle. “Cupid was one of millions of horses from both sides that went to war. It is reasonable to suggest that the war couldn’t have been fought without their courage, loyalty and hard work,” explains Martin Laurie.
At the end of the campaign Cupid was one of the 22 surviving horses and her shoe still hangs in Martin Laurie’s house as a reminder of his grandfather’s brave and loyal companion.
“During the first week of March 1916, an unusual thing happened which caused much excitement on the horse lines – one of the mares foaled during the night. Nobody had been aware that one of the mares was even in foal or indeed knew how she got in foal, having been on active service for so long”.
Cupid’s War by Martin Laurie, £12.99, is available through amazon.co.uk