World War One: Circus animals like elephants helped Britain
As World War One raged, the military purchased most of England's horses and sent them to the Western Front. Many farmers and traders had to find alternative beasts of burden, but none more exotic than elephants. On the cobbled streets of industrial Sheffield an Indian elephant dutifully lumbered along. Her task was important - she had to cart munitions, machines and scrap metal around the city, a job previously done by three horses. Lizzie - as she was known - was used to performing tricks as part of a travelling menagerie. But with the outbreak of WW1 she was conscripted to help with heavy labour, fitted with a harness and sent to work at a scrap metal merchants.
Sergeant George Thompson refused to put faithful mount down and kept him in secret stable
Sergeant George Thompson and his faithful charge braved hellish conditions for real in the First World War. Decorated hero Sgt Thompson even defiantly disobeyed orders to shoot his horse when it became sick, instead building a secret stable and nursing it back to health. In diary extracts revealed for the first time, Sgt Thompson writes of his close bond to the horse which he cared for throughout the Great War. However, his relationship with the horse did not begin well: The horse used to kick and bite him every time he went for a drink.
The Blue Cross opens WWI war horse archive (photos and posters)
The Blue Cross opens First World War horse archive (photos and posters).
WWI animals get their due in an exhibition at Belgium's Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History
The First World War wasn't just history's first industrial slaughter: It was the last gasp of a pre-industrial age when the dogs of war were just as critical to the outcome as the men who commanded them. The dogs, pigeons, horses, mules, chickens, cows, even maggots of the war-to-end-all-wars get their due in an exhibition at Belgium's Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Brussels. "HELP THE WAR HORSES: R.S.P.C.A. FUND FOR SICK AND WOUNDED HORSES" calls out a poster, a tribute to the 8 million horses which died 1914-1918. Carrier pigeons played an important role, often the only means of communication from the frontlines to distant headquarters.
Dogs of war -exhibit explores animals in the First World War
Loyalty is a defining trait for Dobermans, but for a hungry war dog, food is a good enough lure to break ranks. Australian troops were victorious when Roff the German messenger dog was lured to cross the trenches by the prospect of food. He became a trophy for the soldiers, and is now stuffed and mounted in a new exhibition at the Australian War Memorial about the role animals have in war. Other animals involved in war included carrier pigeons, camels for transport and kangaroos smuggled out by servicemen as a reminder of home. A black and white photo shows an Aussie soldier playing with a kangaroo in Cairo, against a backdrop of pyramids.
The mighty Warrior: One of military history's last cavalry charges
General Jack Seely and his horse Warrior lad one of the last great cavalry charges in military history - at Moreuil Wood, on the banks of the Avre river. Victory would secure the river bank and help halt the German Spring Offensive of 1918. Behind Warrior were the 1,000 horses of the Canadian Cavalry. In the 10 days since the German breakthrough against the 5th Army, they had trekked a 120 mile to get round the spearhead of the German advance. Legend has it that General Jack Seely later recommended Warrior for the Victoria Cross medal with the simple citation: "He went everywhere I went."
A million horses were sent to fight in the Great War: 62000 came back
A great horse rears amid the boom of bombardment; careers in terror from the path of an advancing battle tank; struggles to free itself from treacherous swirls of barbed wire... Images of man's exploitation of animals carried to extremity amid the horrors of World War I. It was bold to set out to depict such scenes on a London stage. But the National Theatre is enjoying a triumph with its production of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse. We know that WWI killed some 10 million fighting men. Much less known is the fate of a million horses, sent to France 1914-1918. Only 62,000 returned.
Heartfelt letter saved pony from the First World War call-up (Article no longer available from the original source)
Touching correspondence between a Wigan schoolgirl Freda Hewlett and Secretary of State Lord Kitchener over the fate of her beloved pony have surfaced 93 years later at a major exhibition "The Animals' War" at the Imperial War Museum North. She wrote begging him not to call up her 17yo pony Betty for active duty at the outbreak of WW1 in 1914. She appeals to Kitchener's softer side, pointing out that the pony is in foal, and her family have already given 2 horses to the Army while 3 family members have responded to "Your Country Needs You" poster. His secretary replied to reassure Freda that there was no danger of Betty being needed, not least because she was too small.
In pictures: The Animals' War on show at the at Imperial War Museum
The Animals' War is currently on show at the at Imperial War Museum North. Some photographs: A German messenger dog leaps a trench on the Western Front in 1916. --- During World War I pigeons were frequently used to carry messages from tanks.
Has a cat ever received military honors? (Article no longer available from the original source)
Cats have done their share of soldiering through history. Persians took cats into battle against the Egyptians because Egyptians considered them sacred. According to The People a cat named Charlie was cited as the last official cat at the Chatham Dockyard's Royal Navy Base. Run over in 1981, Charlie was buried with full military honors. In World War I, the British unleashed more than 500 felines to the front lines to sniff out lethal gases. Mourka, a Soviet cat, carried messages in 1942 during the siege of Stalingrad.
Indian army: first and only cavalry charge of the Somme battle
As the Battle of the Somme is marked, the Indian army also has good reason for remembrance. Two Indian regiments took part in the first and only cavalry charge of the battle but were forced to retreat under heavy fire. "This probably reinforced the increasing realisation among British generals that cavalry charges using horses were a thing of the past," says Imperial War Museum historian Nigel Steel. The cavalry charge on 14 July was conducted by two regiments, the 20th Deccan Horse and the British Seventh Dragoon Guards, who were supported by another Indian regiment, the 34th Poona Horse.
British War Dogs In The Great War
Lt.-Col. E.H. Richardson who ran the War Dog Training School was mainly responsible for the appearance of messenger dogs in the British Army in WW1. Originally the idea to use dogs came from the Red Cross who wanted to use ambulance dogs, but this idea was deemed unsuccessful as early as the battle of Antwerp, the French banned the use of ambulance dogs within a few weeks of the war beginning. Lt-Col Richardson then started training sentry and patrol dogs around about autumn 1914 and found the Airedale to be well suited for this task. In the winter of 1916 he trained and supplied two Airedales (Wolf and Prince) for use as message carriers, they both served with success.
War memorial for all brave creatures great and small (Article no longer available from the original source)
Eight million horses are believed to have died in the First World War, most from exposure, disease or starvation while carrying men, ammunition and equipment. From mighty stallions killed by bullets or starvation to tiny glow worms that lit up the trenches, all were finally honoured with a memorial dedicated to all creatures, great and small, who served in time of war. In Park Lane the Princess Royal unveiled the first permanent tribute to the horses, dogs, pigeons, elephants and others on whose skills the British have depended in times of conflict.
Pigeons During the Two World Wars
During World War I some actions were undertaken after forces were informed by photos taken by military pigeons. German forces took possession of more than one million Belgian race pigeons. Airplanes and war-ships were always accompanied by racing pigeons. Military pigeons brought 717 tidings of crashed airplanes at sea. 95% of the military pigeons returned from their mission. Many birds were badly injured. Cher Ami reached his loft although he was wounded very badly. He saved 194 lives of the "Lost Battalion".