She is very stupid but I am very fond of her. © National Library of Scotland.
Jenny L. Bates Thu, 06/11/2014 - 16:29

if i write for You
i fear i will bind You to eternity
imagining Your immortality this way
haunts me like diminishing returns,
i can only see You in terms of
unbroken continuity
earned grief grows in a garden of loyalty
and i pick each blossom
like folding the pages of a life
not to be forgotten.
You tell me in silence
Listen for yourself
Every living thing you bring with you
i write in the afterglow
illuminated as i close a breathless book.

Remembering the remembered: As November 11th approaches I would like to say thank you to this website for all the research and information brought to light. And for all those human and animal who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so those who lived to celebrate can remember with gratefulness in their hearts.

Total votes: 6547

Walking haystack

Lichen convoy donkey-style
Jean Grace Pedelty Wed, 16/07/2014 - 08:28

I am a walking haystack in
war-torn Afghanistan.
Weighed down with hay, I have to trot
as quickly as I can.

My head and back are swamped with hay,
and I can hardly see.
My donkey heart yearns for someone,
who will be kind to me.

I suffer heat and sands that sting,
when desert whirlwinds blow.
Starvation and harsh whacks from sticks
I have to undergo.

Some friends of mine were tied to trees,
and in their carts of hay
were deadly rocket launchers, all
primed to explode that day.

I dream of finding fresh sweet grass,
and water, when I can,
but I’m a walking haystack in
war torn Afghanistan.

I have always been deeply upset by cruelty to animals of all kinds. My inspiration to write came from seeing TV news pictures from Afghanistan showing photos of poor struggling donkeys carrying massive loads of hay, their weak little legs giving way. Information about the rocket launchers came from research on the Internet.


© All rights reserved by Christophe Cerisier
Permission has kindly been given to use this photograph.

Total votes: 6917


Donkey and mule pack-transport carrying material for the construction of trenches on the Cividale Heights, Macedonia. © IWM (Q60335)
Dandylads Sat, 31/05/2014 - 12:08

Sun scorched morning
On a dusty trail
The living history lead us to new places
We saw you
looking so sad, feeling bad
Just so quick, a glance the nod of a head
We stopped
Walked to you
Then a boy
We talked in broken tongue
Knowing that there was work to be done
Now lead by us with a rope for a leash
We found you shade, water and food
Worked, beaten, hurt and lost spirit
But this amazing mule had spirit of mind
We left leaving money, food for him and the others
Knowing that this old war mule had a sanctuary for life
Find the shade, eat well and drink water
Enjoy life now away from the war

We were exploring southern Egypt and had stopped in Aswan for a few days when whilst out walking we saw a lead of donkeys walking along and they headed towards a compound that turned out to be Brooke Hospital and we saw the amazing work being carried out there. We were compelled to offer what help we could, we of course gave them money and we purchased fresh fruit and vegetables from the markets so we knew that they would eat well.

Seeing all of the donkeys reminded us troubles in the Middle East and how no doubt overworked these animals saved lives. They are war heroes so what better way than to be well cared for by some magnificent people.

I long for the day that we will return.

Total votes: 7142

Them Forgotten Seasons Remembered

Lightly wounded Scottish soldiers being brought to a dressing station by mule in Salonika, 1918. © IWM (Q31798)
Al Rodger Fri, 23/05/2014 - 12:56

The sun shone as bright as any summer's day
that day that we signed up to fight the Kaiser.
Cheers and waves and hats thrown in the air
The throng couldn't hear
didn't care what was said
by the old fat red-faced major
Pushing through
Tom and me
sparing to be first
Some they sent away sent home
too young too short flat feet
But me and Tommy both
they said we'd be all right
just you wait until the day when we are ready for the fight
That'll be the day to remember.

The wind blew as fresh as any autumn's day
that day we marched away to fight the Kaiser.
Spit and polish
shouldered arms
no kit
Endless ranks
our army boots
crash down
on cobbled street
Drumming time
for rousing
beating time
For silent weary flags
still flourished by the crowd
Then our eagerness frustrated
heels kicking standing waiting
for them clogged-up sloping gangways up on board
just more waiting for that day when we'll meet them German hordes
'Cause that will be the day to remember.

The snow fell as soft as any winter's day
that day we faced the soldiers of the Kaiser.
Fallen snowflakes shift
from caps and epaulettes
With awkward
Shiver slap our hands
in the cold and laugh with Fritz
as a football bounced-sky-high
and again a fair old thwack
Wishing merry Christmas
when at last they called us back
A football match we called it
makes a pretty tidy tale
while we're waiting for that day when we begin this fight for real
'Cause that will be the day to remember.

The rain fell as wet as any springtime day
that day we charged the trenches of the Kaiser.
After restless endless night
and the final falling shells
Up we went
through the smoke
and the wire
Skirting rain-filled holes
wet feet slipping in the mire
Through their bombed-out silent lines
'til them shells began again
Just a few
But when they'd stopped they 'ad done for me and Tom.

'Cause it only takes the one to send you off to kingdom come
so just you wait until the day when all them blessed shells is done.

That will be the day
to remember.

No mules here but some may espy those 'Lions led by donkeys.' I am usually writing stories rather than poems and when they are set in war they will often attack the stereotypical views of warfare, the seemingly inescapable clichés which provide us with a rather poor understanding of such events, particularly at the human level.

This poem was written as a Writers' Circle poetry exercise. Although not that long ago, I have forgotten the required theme, if there ever was one. I do remember it had a forty-line limit, lines now split up to assist the reading. I remember being worried about whether I could control the length of the last verse as in story-writing the denouement is usually pretty word-hungry. However, in the event, with this being poetic writing, it proved so very easy to achieve the required denouement in just half a line and thus complete the mission according to plan. Those apocryphal mules' fathers would be impressed.

Total votes: 7338

The Forgotten

Two pack mules. © IWM (Q 34066)
piphoc Fri, 25/04/2014 - 17:12

I can’t remember not being here,
Not being afraid, cold,
Not having sores from my heavy pack.
I can’t remember what it’s like to eat mouthfuls of grass
And drink as much water as I can drink.

I wish I were that bird, flying high,
Soaring above the danger,
Taking a message,
Of safety? Of peace?
But still for them the danger comes.

I wish I were that hound, small enough to hide,
Small enough to find a shield from the bombs,
To take cover behind my master,
But still for them the danger comes.

I could get angry, I could complain,
That it’s not fair, that this is not our fight,
But as we walk side by side, I see your trust in me and I put my trust in you.
I will walk willingly into the line of fire for you, and as I look into your deep, scared, sad eyes I know I won’t be walking alone.
Still for us the danger comes.

And still the relentless bombs cry,
I must be brave and get our cargo through,
Through the continuous ear splitting crashes,
The bursts of light hurt my eyes.
I am afraid but I must go on.
I must be steady. I have seen my kind swallowed by the land when straying from the route.
And always the danger comes.

Yet there will be no commemorative gesture,
No field of poppies for us to be remembered,
They will not stand at our graves and weep,
But we will always know how we walked together as one,
Mankind and mule, an inseparable bond.

And together we march on as equals,
We risk our lives for what?
For lush green pastures,
For lying in the midday sun, feeling the heat on our backs,
For that quiet touch of the hand that cares for me.
For Life!
Viva Las Mulas!

By Pippa Hockin

Since I started working for The Donkey Sanctuary last year at Town Barton Farm (where most of The Donkey Sanctuary mules are) I have been alerted to how much mules did during the War by a couple of fabulous colleagues. This has been so well depicted on your website. As I looked further into it I noticed that there isn't very much information on mules in the War available and I wanted to do something for these fabulous animals which do and have done so much for us.

Recently I have been working with a mule called Louisiana who was very nervous at first but as we have created a bond her confidence has grown so much and I can see how much trust a mule will have in us if we let them. I see this everyday when my colleagues are doing the amazing behaviour work with the different mules on the farm. After a really good day's training with a colleague and some quiet reflection time with Louisiana I felt I could write for her, if she were to talk of World War 1, being unable to make the decision to go to war but soldiering on none the less, through such horrors we could never imagine.

Total votes: 7292

The War Donkey

A shell bursting near a park of Indian A. T. carts on the Western Mule Track. © IWM (Q 13559)
Eva Mon, 21/04/2014 - 19:17

Little donkey who can know the things your eyes have seen.
Your hooves on battlegrounds have trod o"er fields where once the grass was green.

You fell like many of your brothers beneath the cannons blast,
faithful to the end as soldiers by your side held fast.

The ultimate price was asked of you in a war you did not make,
when humankind strove valiantly and fought for peaces sake.

No meadow sweet or stable soft and warm would be your bed,
but a battleground with shells and bullets whistling overhead.

Laden with the tools of war you struggle ever onward,
dreaming of your peaceful fields your memory flies on homeward.

Your sacrifices and your sorrows carved on our fair land,
will never be forgotten while our liberty doth stand.

I have thought about the war a lot over the last few months for a few reasons. My son over in Holland has been looking into my family's history and I lost a great uncle in a battle in France when he was only 26. I have thought about all the people who lost loved ones, some of them young men. It made me think of all the animals who had no choice but to go where humans took them, into battle and I know a lot of them died. I knew horses were used a lot but I only found out recently that they also used mules and donkeys. I just wanted to speak for them in poetry.

Total votes: 7480

A Mule’s Duty

Bandaging the leg of a wounded mule. © IWM (Q 10907)
Jenny L. Bates Fri, 14/03/2014 - 21:41

Shake off the mud
Shake off the cries
Shake off the pain
Shake off the night.
They’ve framed my face
in a heavy mask,
I cannot breathe
I can only gasp
for air filled with smoke
and cold and fear
My nose is running
with Mulish tears.
Through service and struggle
I’ll climb this hill
with cannon and mortar
to hurl at the enemy
To live or die out my destiny.

The shrills are scattered
among my kind
How many Mules whose hour has come
Lay in a puddle,
poor dust our song.
I and my friends are all in the way
of death and spirit on this fateful day
If we had our wish we’d say,
let’s run and sing, let’s not engage
in war and rain until we’re able
To just be fodder for a Raven’s table.

Human and non-human have forgot to pray
Cut off from food
Put out of the way
We cannot move, our souls are clay
No generations to tell my tale today.
Oh heavy burden, stay on your toes!
Through wars of men
the Mules must lift their feet or fall as
We become our own foes.
So dress me now with heavy cannon and all
with cloaks of death I’m on my way,
Hail my courage with your monuments and flowers
to us animals who walked the line
of all that matters.
Hail the unseen links between us
crave a peaceful better day
Set sail the fragrance of the field
And remember there is nothing
more agreeable than what I’m doing
beneath this war torn veil.

To me, war is the supreme stage of the heart. The animals that are engaged in the wars of men are so completely in their power. No choice but to plod on through. They walk the whole walk of war. They have never heard of such a thing, would not conceive of it in their lives and yet, they stand beside man in all his endeavours even unto death. For words they would never use. So it was and is for the animals of war.

As Aristotle said, "For nature, when no other important purpose stands in her way, places the more honorable part in the more honorable position...the centre." The centre is the heart, and the animals of war all carry the bravest and heaviest of these.

In my talks and slide shows I used to give, I spoke in length of the donkeys and mules used in war, but only the 'heros'' never the cost. In my research I saw and read about the inconceivable numbers who lost their lives in service to man and I am a supporter of Animal Aid.

Total votes: 8217

The Charge of the Mule Brigade

Exercising horses and mules at an Army Remount Service Depot in Egypt. © IWM (Q 15789)
WarMule Sun, 09/03/2014 - 17:07

Half a mile, half a mile,
Half a mile onward,
Right through the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.
"Forward the Mule Brigade!
Charge for the Rebs," they neighed.
Straight for the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.

"Forward the Mule Brigade!"
Was there a mule dismayed?
Not when their long ears felt
All their ropes sundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to make Rebs fly.
On! to the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.

Mules to the right of them,
Mules to the left of them,
Mules behind them
Pawed, neighed, and thundered.
Breaking their own confines
Breaking through Longstreet's lines
Into the Georgia troops
Stormed the two hundred.

Wild all their eyes did glare,
Whisked all their tails in air
Scattering the chivalry there,
While all the world wondered.
Not a mule back bestraddled,
Yet how they all skedaddled --
Fled every Georgian,
Unsabred, unsaddled,
Scattered and sundered!
How they were routed there
By the two hundred!

Mules to the right of them,
Mules to the left of them,
Mules behind them
Pawed, neighed, and thundered;
Followed by hoof and head
Full many a hero fled,
Fain in the last ditch dead,
Back from an ass's jaw
All that was left of them, --
Left by the two hundred.

When can their glory fade?
Oh, what a wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Mule Brigade,
Long-eared two hundred!

"The Charge of the Mule Brigade" - a poem written by an anonymous soldier after the battle at Wauhatchie, Tennessee in 1863.

"As Union General John Geary's troops held off the Confederates of Major General James Longstreet, some 200 mules became terrified by the noisy battle and stampeded through the night into the center of Lieutenant General Wade Hampton's southerners. Deciding that this was a cavalry attack, a good number of Hampton's troops panicked and fled."

It is said that this light-hearted escapade inspired the poem based on Alfred Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade".

Source: Civil War Poetry.

Total votes: 8682

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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.