One big excitement for us at Racing Post these past few weeks has been planning the re-publishing my grandfather’s book “My Horse Warrior” for this autumn in anticipation of Steven Spielberg’s film version of “War Horse.” We are billing it “The Amazing Story of a Real War Horse” and that’s no overstatement.
Warrior was bred by my grandfather Jack Seely at his home in the west of the Isle of Wight, taken by him to France in August 1914 and ridden by him throughout the war, cheating death so many times that when he finally died in 1941 The Times ran an obituary with the headline “The Horse the Germans couldn’t kill.”
His crowning moment came on March 30th 1918 when he and Jack Seely led a cavalry charge that halted the big German advance which had broken the Allied Fifth Army. Jack Seely was the commander of the Canadian Cavalry and Sir Alfred Munnings portrait of him and Warrior painted within sight of the front line in February 1918 is the cover of this new issue. Munnings and Seely became such friends that the artist came to the Isle of Wight to do a series of wonderful line drawings of the old horse which, along with his wartime studies, were such a feature of the original book and are now reproduced in their entirety.
That first volume was the favourite book of the young Sir Peter O’Sullevan who writes a preface for this edition and to whose charity foundation a share of the proceeds will go. I will write an introduction and an epilogue which will include a lovely photo of horse and owner trotting down an Isle of Wight lane when their combined ages (70 + 30) were a hundred. Mind you Jack Seely, a great friend and fellow cabinet minister of Winston Churchill, was no shrinking violet and was always supposed to have recommended Warrior for the VC with the not exactly modest citation – “he went everywhere I went.”
But in the book it is always the horse not the man who is the hero. Joey, the farm boy’s horse who is the affecting star of “War Horse” has become one of the best loved animals in fiction. But Warrior, the general’s ally, is a story of astonishing wondrous fact. My mother used to tell me about him even before I read the book. This autumn it will be your chance to read it too.