8 Memorials to Animals in the First World War

The First World War saw the development of industrialised, mechanised warfare – machine guns, tanks, and aeroplanes.  In addition to this modern technology, millions of animals were used both in warfare and on the home front. They died in their hundreds of thousands.

An estimated six million horses and mules were engaged by the combatants.  They hauled food, equipment, ammunition and other supplies for the troops.  Tens of thousands of horses and camels were used by cavalry units.

Messenger pigeons played a vital role in communications, relaying messages from the front line to headquarters more reliably than telephone or radio.  Dogs carried messages and laid telephone wires. Cats caught rats in the trenches. Canaries and mice were employed to give early warning of toxic fumes when troops were tunnelling underground. On the home front, circus elephants were commandeered for agriculture and haulage.  Many animals – goats, a fox, monkeys, a pig, a bear, mice, dogs and cats – were kept as pets and mascots by troops and on ships, raising morale and providing comfort during the terrible hardships of war.

Read the full article and see the 8 memorials on the Historic England website: https://heritagecalling.com/2017/02/28/8-memorials-to-animals-in-the-first-world-war/ 


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