Over the past two weeks my lad and I have been learning about animals in the war. Camels, horses, dogs, donkeys, mules, cats, dogs, elephants and pigeons. I also heard about a monkey and a turtle that were morale boosters during the war. All these animals helped people in the war effort.
What Animals Served?
Horses, donkeys, mules and camels carried food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men at the front. Dogs served sentry, medical, messaging, and scout work, as well as raising morale. They also killed vermin. Pigeons carried messages very swiftly to high command. Canaries detected poisonous gas.
Great war animals in the world war. Elephants, dogs, pigeons and horses.
Camels were part of the war effort. The Imperial Camel troops that served in the Middle East. There were many good reasons to use camels in battle, but also some dangers as you can learn about at this site.
Horses were used for a variety of tasks in the war. Pulling weapons, carrying officers, bringing in supplies and more. I knew gas was used during the war, but never thought of the need for horses to have gas masks.
Some of the pictures in this videos were hard to view. It was SO hard for the horses. They suffered terribly right alongside the men they served with. The soldiers did the best they could for the horses, but conditions were absolutely horrible.
Cats that were part of the war effort. Mostly as vermin control and morale officers, but some cats were trained to detect gas. Learn more about these amazing felines here.
Then of course we have the dogs of the war. Sentries, scouts, companions, mascots, medical dogs, message runners and more. Dogs were SO very useful in the war.
Stubby the dog “Sgt stubby an American dog” There is a cartoon version which the lad and I watched. It was pretty good. The full movie can be found on youtube.
We learned about a dog trainer in Scotland named Major Edwin Richardson. His name was mentioned in one of the videos so we looked him up. He started the first British War Dog School. Learn more here.
We also learned about other famous dogs of World War 1.
I have to admit I was shocked to hear about elephants in the war. It seemed that most of them were used for publicity stunts. None the less, elephants were definitely used in world war 1 by both sides.
Pigeon training, homing pigeons. The lad was curious about how you train a pigeon to race home or carry a message.
Pigeons in world war 1. In 1915, as stalemate and trench warfare set in, communication became very important. Pigeons became important to the war efforts and homing pigeons were used to carrying message to High Command. More than 100,000 pigeons were used. Some of them received medals. They overcame cut telegraph wires and other communication difficulties, though they did face their own challenges of hawks, shell-fire and more. Learn about some pigeon heroes’ on this page. A Story about a brave pigeon that may or may not be true can be located on this site. Some stories and pictures here.
We even ran across this innovative idea for gathering information.
In case you couldn’t guess, my son did his research paper on pigeons and how they were used in the war. He’s not quite done, but he’s been fighting a nasty cold this week and having a hard time managing his time.
Before I Go
This information was so cool to learn! Look at this: EVEN SLUGS were used!!!!!
By the time soldiers noticed the presence of mustard gas on the battlefield, it was often too late. Dr. Paul Bartsch of the Division of Mollusks ……discovered that slugs could detect mustard gas well before humans could. The slugs would visibly indicate their discomfort by closing their breathing pores and compressing their bodies, and soldiers in the trenches would quickly put on their gas masks to protect themselves from harmful levels of gas. The “slug brigade” ended up saving many lives. Source.
It’s been a great couple of weeks learning about Animals in the war. I was surprised more often than I care to admit, but it was great.