Animal charity The Blue Cross is remembering the “real war horses” in a new online archive, to coincide with the release of the Steven Spielberg film.

The charity is opening its archives to the public for the first time to reveal the real-life stories of horses that were involved in the First World War.

The War Horse collection is full of photographs, artefacts and audio-visual materials to give an insight into life on the battlefields. It includes letters from soldiers during the war and photographs of injured horses being treated by Blue Cross vets behind the front lines.

Hundreds of thousands of horses were killed or injured in the war, or became ill as a result of conditions on the front line. More than 50,000 horses and 10,000 dogs were treated by The Blue Cross in France alone during the four-year war.

During the war The Blue Cross collected donations to fund horse hospitals, ambulances and veterinary supplies, marked with a blue cross to distinguish them from the Red Cross facilities for injured men.

“We are immensely proud of The Blue Cross’s history helping the brave animals of war, which gave us our name today,” said Steve Goody of The Blue Cross. “As a tribute to all the real-life war horses, we decided to open up our archives to share some of the amazing stories and pictures of these extraordinary animals, as well as the people who went beyond the call of duty to help them.”

The War Horse film is out in the UK on 13 January.

For more information visit: www.bluecross.org.uk/warhorse