Casualties of war

Mules victims of mustard gas, Champagne 1917. © All rights reserved.  Permission has been granted to publish.
WarMule Sun, 16/03/2014 - 17:35

Today I thought I'd do a little bit more research into mules being used during WW1. The day started well with tinkering on the website by adding new images into the photo gallery and sourcing some extra images for the home page. There comes a point when searching for images to use that I find that I have to stop. Not because I've spent hours sourcing, checking copyright and making sure I can, as far as reasonably possible, have as much useful information as possible. I have to stop because there are some images that stop you in your tracks and the whole reality of the First World War hits you. I'm talking of the forgotten army - animals in war.

One of the links I followed, was to an archive of the Army's Veterinary Corps service and related animal units during WW1 and is a website dedicated to Greg Krenzelok's grandfather, Sergeant Leonard Patrick Murphy, who was in the US Army Veterinary Corps in WW1 where he was with the 18th Veterinary Hospital stationed at Sougy, France. The site is also dedicated to all those that served in the Veterinary Corps, Remount Service and the Cavalry and to their relatives that wish to keep their memories alive during WW1. And to all of the horses and mules who served and gave up their lives too.

“More horses and mules in the United States Army in 1918 did not mean more transportation in France for the Army but it meant more waste of animals, time of men and money. The needs of the army could never be met unless animals were returned to service by good medical care and recovery. We could not continue to have such a great loss and waste of animals due lack of care and poor management and keep the Army going”.

Source: Veterinary Military History of the United States by Merillat, Louis A. & Delwin M. Campbell, Volume II, page 751.

This account of the conditons for working mules and horses was horrendous. Not only seeing the images of dead and wounded animals but, can you imagine, the full scale of men trying to look after thousands of animals throughout the war as they were led (or carried) from the battlefields. This is where the lump in the throat starts to rise when you start to read through Greg Krenzelok's The Army Veterinary Service during the Great War, WW1 archive.

The horses and mules of the Army were of inestimable value in the war leading to a happy ending. They could be found in any theatre preparedness and operations, fulfilling their duties faithfully and in silence, without being able to expect no reward or compensation.

The last photo I looked at in my research today was of a two week old colt born in the British lines in France, outside the ward of a veterinary hospital where its mother was receiving treatment. Behind the foal was an open fronted lean-to shed showing horses being treated by Army vets.

My research has found that the Army Veterinary Corps was founded in 1903 and during the First World War they treated over 2.5 million animals including horses, mules, dogs and carrier pigeons.


This photo is displayed on the The Army Veterinary Service during the Great War, WW1 archive.
"Figure 3: Mules victims of mustard gas, Champagne 1917, photo Jean Tournassoud"
Best efforts have been made to request permission to use.


Jenny L. Bates's picture

I think that this website will be so very important because, even though I have never experienced war personally, I know that any bit of humanity left in people who have will be awakened by the courage, patience and suffering of animals affected by any conflict. Their plight helps us to recollect how many things we have been through, and how many things humans have been made to endure. Looking back through animal eyes shows how man's history and life is now complete, our service ended. It is a way, perhaps the only way for some, to give a name to their experience. Or not even a name, but a sound and an echo.

Very informative post. Really thank you! Awesome.

I really like your writing style, fantastic information, thanks for putting up.

Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content!

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