Animals in the Great War
Animals in the Great War looks at the use of animals by all sides in the Great War and to what effect. In the main, it focuses greatly on horses, dogs and pigeons but also addresses the war efforts of other animals. In the early years of the war horses were, to a large extent, the only form of transport that was available to the British Army, ranging from use by cavalry units, artillery units as well others such as the Army Ordnance Corps for the conveying of ammunition supplies to men fighting at the front.
Britain sent an estimated one million horses to fight in the war, most of them to France and Belgium, but only 60,000 of them ever returned home, and only then were they returned because of the intervention of Winston Churchill. Dogs also played a major role in the war, especially in the trenches on the Western Front. They were used as mascots by the different regiments and in some cases, they were companions for homesick soldiers.
They were also used for sentry duties in the trenches as well as catching rats, and they were used as messengers and to sniff out wounded soldiers in No Man's Land. Besides their immediate handlers who looked after their everyday needs, there was the Royal Army Veterinary Corps to tend to their wounds after they had been injured in the execution of their duties. Animals in the Great War explores how everyday domestic animals were transformed into remarkable wartime heroes, who more than did their bit for the war effort.