Goodbye, Old Man': Painting depicting

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'Goodbye, Old Man': Painting depicting a British soldier comforting his dying horse on a road, 1916.
This painting by Italian artist Fortunino Matania was commissioned by the Blue Cross animal charity fund in 1916 to raise money for horses on active service in the British Army during the First World War.
Approximately 8 million horses were killed in the First World War, transporting guns, ammunition, resources and troops - dying to artillery strikes and exhaustion most of the time. A minority of horses were also killed as cavalry horses, charging into enemy barbed wire, rifle- and machine-gun fire.
For this deeply moving painting, I'll recite the poem "The Silent Volunteers" by British Lieutenant Leonard Fleming:
"NO less, real heroes than the men who died,
Are you who helped the frenzied ranks to win;
Galloping heroes - silently - side by side,
Models of discipline.
You, too, had pals from whom you had to part,
Pals rather young to fight, or else too old -
And though the parting hurt your honest heart,
You kept your grief untold.
Thus in the parting have you proved your worth,
As you have proved it time and time again;
You, the most human animal on earth -
Nobler perhaps than men.
Nobler, perhaps, because in all you did,
In all you suffered, you could not know why;
Only, you guessed - and did as you were bid -
Just galloped on - to die.
Unflinchingly, you faced the screaming shell,
And charged and charged, until the ground was gained,
Then falling, mangled, and suffered simple hell,
And never once complained.
There, where your life blood spilled around you fast,
Lying unheeded by the surging van,
You closed your great big patient eyes at last.
And died - a gentleman."

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