Video footage

Mules carry water to artillerymen during battle

British soldiers filling mule-drawn water-carts at a water depot near Ervillers. © IWM (Q 5307).
WarMule Thu, 05/06/2014 - 18:50

The Battle of Arras was a British offensive in the Spring of 1917 in which Australian, British, Canadian, Newfoundland and New Zealand troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front.

In this WW1 video footage you will see mules being led by soldiers carrying water to the gunners during the battle. What's interesting in this video is the condition of the mules themselves... their coats are shiny and their ears forward. The mules themselves would not have been on the Front itself but in the rear providing support to the soldiers.

In the fighting around Arras, the British suffered 158,660 casualties while the Germans incurred between 130,000 to 160,000. The Battle of Arras is generally considered a British victory due to the capture of Vimy Ridge and other territorial gains, however it did little to alter the strategic situation on the Western Front. Following the battle, the Germans built new defensive positions and a stalemate resumed. The gains made by the British on the first day were astounding by Western Front standards, but an inability to swiftly follow up prevented a decisive breakthrough. Despite this, the Battle of Arras taught the British key lessons regarding the coordination of infantry, artillery, and tanks which would be put to good use during the fighting in 1918.

World War I: Battle of Arras (1917)

Of mules and men: Challenging relationships in WW1

An army mule tied in a wooden crush or stocks to hold it steady while it is shod. © National Library of Scotland
WarMule Thu, 01/05/2014 - 02:37

Together with the millions of horses employed by Allied troops in WW1 were mules. As horse losses mounted many mules were purchased, frequently from far away, arriving by ship to end up in the mud-filled trenches with handlers often ill-equipped to care for them. The introduction of British troops to mules must have been a challenge, as mules were not widely appreciated or used in the UK. A mule is not a horse, and to work successfully with them required a different attitude. A less developed flight response made them hard to drive on, and impossible cavalry mounts; a highly developed fight response made them quick and dangerous adversaries when faced with ill treatment. It was oft stated that there were two types of mule men; those that learnt to work considerately with them and those that ended up in the field hospital!

Understanding of the mule and its unique attributes and character developed and they became firm favourites with many troops who relied upon them to carry their most precious cargo in their calm and enduring way. The relationship between this unique equine and their handlers in WW1 will be examined in this presentation through the eyes of mule and man.

This presentation is by Faith Burden at the War Horses Conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London on Saturday 3rd May 2014.

Faith Burden is Head of Research at The Donkey Sanctuary - the world’s largest charity dedicated to working with donkeys and mules both in the UK and internationally. Faith has published extensively on the care and welfare of donkeys and their hybrids and facilitates Donkey Sanctuary supported and funded research programmes to improve their knowledge of all things ‘long ears’. She has a personal passion for mules with a lifelong admiration of these unique equid hybrids and is lucky enough to share her life with two mules that constantly provide inspiration and daily insight in to the human-animal bond.

Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

Battle of Ypres. Shells being taken forward by pack mules. © IWM (Q 11761)
WarMule Wed, 02/04/2014 - 18:54

[1:30] A team of mules comes into view.

There's very little remaining today that marks Hell Fire Corner other than a small granite marker.

In 1919 these markers were positioned to show the furthest point advanced by the Germans.

The Battle of Passchendaele (or Third Battle of Ypres or "Passchendaele") was a campaign of the First World War, fought by the British and their allies against the German Empire.

The battle took place on the Western Front, between July and November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, as part of a strategy decided by the Allies at conferences in November 1916 and May 1917.

3rd Battle Ypres 1917: WW1 Footage of Hell Fire Corner... then and now

Warhorse - The real Warhorses of World War 1

Soldiers of the Staffordshire Regiment with mules and donkeys near Menjil. © IWM (Q 24995)
WarMule Fri, 04/04/2014 - 19:12

A short video presentation narrated by Neil Pugh created by his daughter to illustrate the tragic sacrifice wrought through the equine ranks in the battlefields of World War 1.

As well as the men who fought, animals paid their part in the war.

Without their help, we could easily have been defeated.

Throughout history, mules and donkeys as well as horses have played an important role in war.

Who were the real war horses of WW1?

Shell-carrying pack mules moving forward through the mud. © IWM (Q 5940)
WarMule Tue, 01/04/2014 - 19:35

Without horses and mules, ammunition would have run dry, soldiers would have gone without rations and casualties would not have got to the field hospitals.

During World War One the British army put to work over a million horses and mules.

They provided the back bone for an army fighting on a global scale never seen before. Historians generally agree that without them the British army would have disintegrated.

Matt Baker discovers the stories behind the more than one million horses and mules put to work during the WW1.

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11th hour: 11th day: 11th month

A time to remember those who fought for us in war, which includes thousands of brave mules who lost their lives. Mules are still used today by the American army in Afghanistan. Please remember these brave and gallant creatures on Remembrance Sunday.