Mounted horse's hoof inkwell : Sergeant J G Brown, 1 Remount Unit, AIF

Accession Number REL34166
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Aluminium, Brass, Keratin
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Sinai Palestine 1917: The Light Horse Men
Maker Unknown
Place made Egypt
Date made c 1915-1919
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918

Horse's hind hoof mounted as a souvenir inkwell. The hoof is fitted with a light aluminium racing plate, attached with six nails. The nails pass through the wall of the hoof, where they have been cut off and polished smooth. The top has been fitted with an embossed and engraved aluminium plate, which features a raised map of Australia and Tasmania. A Rising Sun badge containing the words 'AUSTRALIAN COMMONWEALTH MILITARY FORCES' is engraved within the Australian continent, while Tasmania contains the engraved letters 'TAS'. The front of the plate extends down the face of the hoof to form a small plaque which has an engraved border, but no other inscription. Cut into the top of the plate towards the front of the hoof is a hole containing a removable brass ink reservoir made from the cut-down oil bottle of a Lee Enfield .303 rifle. Above this is a hinged circular cap to cover the hole. A swivelling aluminium frame, curved to follow the shape of the hoof, is attached to pins at the back of the hoof. The frame has two branch-like arms on each side, designed as a rests for pens, and folds flat when not in use.

History / Summary

This souvenir was brought back to Australia by 324 Sergeant James George ('Jim') Brown, of the 1st Remount Unit, AIF. Born in New Zealand, Brown was a 25 year old horse breaker living in Melbourne when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in September 1915. Because of his knowledge of horses and his riding ability, he was selected to form part of 1 Australian Remount Unit, which was then being raised to care for the horses of Australian light horse regiments which were engaged as infantry units in the fighting on Gallipoli. As the need for their original role had passed by the time they reached service, the remount units were absorbed into the larger Imperial Remount Service in Egypt, which was tasked with the breaking-in and care of new horses awaiting allocation to units in the Middle East. As a member of 2 Squadron, Brown sailed from Melbourne on HMAT A67 'Orsova', on 12 November 1915, one of his officers being the well known artist Will Longstaff. The famous Australian poet and journalist A B 'Banjo' Paterson was also an officer of the remounts, serving with 6 Squadron. Jim Brown served in the Middle East throughout the remainder of the war, and returned to Australia in July 1919. As examples of very similar handmade souvenirs are known to have been owned by other members of the Australian Remounts, it is probable that they were all produced by a single individual within the unit.