Sergeant Billy the Goat

Sergeant Billy the Goat

Sergeant Bill was a Canadian goat from Saskatchewan who served as the mascot of the 5th Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

Bill was able to hear and warn soldiers of incoming shell explosions, pushing 3 soldiers into a trench within seconds of an incoming shell.

In another instance, he cornered 3 enemy guardmen.

 He also assisted in guarding prisoners.

Bill survived being wounded and gassed on multiple occasions.

For his actions, he was awarded the 1914 Star, the General Service Medal, and the Victory Medal.

He faced courts martial on two occasions, once for eating his battalion’s personnel roll and the other time for an altercation with another sergeant. He lived the remainder of his life in Winnipeg

Mules & Donkeys of World War 1

Army Mules and Donkeys

The Army Mule Mules required less food than horses. 

They were more tolerant of extreme heat and cold, and they could go for longer periods without water, critical in a battle where clean water was so scarce.

Mules were proven to be more resistant to diseases and disease-bearing insects, very low maintenance, and seldom needed shoes.

Less than half the mules died from infected bullet holes compared to the percentage of horses killed.

The first ship of animals departed in November 1914, and in the four half years of war 287,533 mules and 175 jacks were purchased.

Mules were branded on their near hindquarter with a 2-inch broad arrow and a letter or symbol denoting their origin. 13,000 Spanish mules were considered especially fine.

An astounding mule story tells of the mule traveling down the soft steep hillside when the earth began to give way.

He tossed his handler to safety, freed his load of mail (a highly prized reminder of home), and was then swept away to his death.

Nobody knew how he managed to save the mail and his handler, but all agreed he deserved a medal.

Mule trains were hitched in threes, 15 to 20 long, always traveling at a trot and under fire.

When a mule was hit he was unhitched, the ammunition boxes rolled off him, and the mule train just carried on, often 14 to 16 hours a day.

The Missouri mule was recorded with 64 mules being loaded with 100 kilograms EACH in just 14 minutes! Because of this very high prices were paid for quality mules.

Mules died alongside the horses and soldiers.

There was no way of digging a hole for dead mules so many were thrown into the sea washing up like submarine periscopes and reportedly panicking the Navy. 56,000 surplus mules were sold after the war.

Elephants of World War 1

Elephants of World War 1

A war elephant was an elephant that was trained and guided by humans for combat.

The war elephant’s main use was to charge the enemy, breaking their ranks and instilling terror.

elephants are military units with elephant-mounted troops.

War elephants played a critical role in several key battles in antiquity, but their use declined with the spread of firearms in the early modern period.

Military elephants were then restricted to non-combat engineering and labour roles, and some ceremonial uses.

However, they continued to be used in combat in some parts of the world such as Thailand and Vietnam into the 19th century.

Cats of World War One

Cats of World War 1

During WWI, it is estimated that 500,000 cats were brought to the trenches, and many more served on Navy ships.

They helped the military by killing rats and other vermin that spread disease and were sometimes used as gas detectors.
An estimated 500,000 cats served in World War I.

In the trenches of the Western front, there were serious problems with rats
One cat saved a soldier’s life in a more dramatic fashion.

Pitouchi had been born in the trenches. His mother had been killed when he was a kitten, and he’d been adopted by a Belgian soldier, Lt. Lekeux.

Lekeux was hiding in a shell hole, sketching the enemy’s artillery works. A German soldier on patrol spotted him and called out to his comrades.

Pitouchi “jumped out of the hole onto a piece of timber,as frightened as he was, Pitouchi was not hit, and he jumped back into the hole with his beloved Lekeux.”

The Germans, figuring they’d made a mistake, laughed it off and went on their way.

Animal Tribute to World War one

World War 1 Tribute to Animals of World War 1

Military animals are trained animals that are used in warfare and other combat-related activities.

As working animals, different military animals serve different functions.

Horses, elephants, camels, and other animals have been used for both transportation and mounted attack.

Pigeons were used for communication and photographic espionage.

Many other animals have been reportedly used in various specialized military functions, including rats and pigs.

Dogs have long been employed in a wide variety of military purposes, more recently focusing on guarding and bomb detection, and along with dolphins and sea lions are in active use today.

The horse was the most widely used animal throughout the recorded history of warfare.

Early mounts could pull a chariot or carry lightly armored skirmishing forces.

With the appearance of heavier mounts and the invention of the stirrup, the horse-mounted cavalry became the most prestigious combat arm in Europe for several centuries.

A knight’s warhorse was trained to bite and kick.

The combination of the horse-mounted warrior armed with a bow made the steppe people’s armies the most powerful military force in Asian history.

With the appearance of modern ranged weapons and motor vehicles, horse use for military purposes fell into decline.
However, horses and mules are still used extensively by various armies today for transport in difficult terrain.

While elephants are not considered domesticable, they can be trained to serve as mounts, or for moving heavy loads. Sanskrit hymns record their use for military purposes as early as 1,100 B.C.

A group of elephants was employed by Hannibal during the Second Punic War.

They were employed as recently as World War II by both the Japanese and Allies.

Elephants could perform the work of machines in locations where vehicles could not penetrate, so they found use in the Burma Campaign.

Camels have typically seen use as mounts in arid regions (Camel cavalry).

They are better able to traverse sandy deserts than horses and require far less water.

Camels were employed in both world wars.

Camels are used by the Indian Army and Border Security Force for patrolling in the desert regions of Rajasthan.

Mules were used by the U.S. Army, the British Army, and the Indian Army during World War II to carry supplies and equipment over difficult terrain.

Pack animals that are innately patient, cautious, and hardy, mules could carry heavy loads of supplies where Jeeps and even pack horses could not travel. Mules were used in North Africa, Burma, and Italy.

They are also used for transporting supplies in mountainous regions.

It was necessary to have fifteen mules attached to the (Tank) battalion for the purpose of transporting ammunition and gasoline to tanks which were impossible to service with any type of vehicle this battalion possesses.

However, this is far from a satisfactory arrangement due to the limited amount of mules and the number of supplies needed in the positions After the action report,

751st Tank Battalion., February 1945, Section IV – Supply (page 190 of 242)

Oxen have been used widely in war as beasts of burden, especially to transport heavy or siege artillery through heavy terrain.

Camels of World War 1

Camels of World War 1

In 1916, the British created the Imperial Camel Corps.

It was originally used to fight the Senussi but was later used in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War I.

The Imperial Camel Corps comprised infantrymen mounted on camels for movement across desert, though they dismounted at battle sites and fought on foot. 

After July 1918, the Corps began to become run down, receiving no new reinforcements and was formally disbanded in 1919. 

In World War I, the British Army also created the Egyptian Camel Transport Corps, which consisted of a group of Egyptian camel drivers and their camels.

The Corps supported British war operations in Sinai, Palestine, and Syria by transporting supplies to the troops.

The Somaliland Camel Corps was created by colonial authorities in British Somaliland in 1912; it was disbanded in 1944.

Bactrian camels were used by Romanian forces during World War II in the Caucasian region.

At the same period, the Soviet units operating around Astrakhan in 1942 adopted local camels as draft animals due to a shortage of trucks and horses and kept them even after moving out of the area. 

Despite severe losses, some of these camels came as far West as to Berlin itself.

The Bikaner Camel Corps of British India fought alongside the British Indian Army in World War 1 and World War 2

The Tropas Nómadas (Nomad Troops) was an auxiliary regiment of Sahrawi tribesmen serving in the colonial army in Spanish Sahara (today Western Sahara). 

Operational from the 1930s until the end of the Spanish presence in the territory in 1975, the Tropas Nómadas were equipped with small arms and led by Spanish officers. The unit guarded outposts and sometimes conducted patrols on camelback.

Homing Pigeons of World War 1

Homing pigeons of world war 1

Homing pigeons were used extensively during World War I.

In 1914, during the First Battle of the Marne, the French army advanced 72 pigeon lofts with the troops.

The US Army Signal Corps used 600 pigeons in France alone.

One of their homing pigeons, a Blue Check hen named Cher Ami, was awarded the French “Croix de Guerre with Palm” for heroic service delivering 12 important messages during the Battle of Verdun.

On her final mission in October 1918, she delivered a message despite having been shot through the breast or wing.

The crucial message, found in the capsule hanging from a ligament of her shattered leg,

saved 194 US soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division’s “Lost Battalion”.

German unmanned camera pigeon (probably aerial reconnaissance in World War I)

United States Navy aviators maintained 12 pigeon stations in France with a total inventory of 1,508 pigeons when the war ended.

Pigeons were carried in airplanes to rapidly return messages to these stations; and 829 birds flew in 10,995 wartime aircraft patrols.

Airmen of the 230 patrols with messages entrusted to pigeons threw the message-carrying pigeon either up or down, depending on the type of aircraft, to keep the pigeon out of the propeller and away from airflow toward the aircraft wings and struts.

Eleven of the thrown pigeons went missing in action, but the remaining 219 messages were delivered successfully.

Leg canister for a war pigeon, U.S. Army Signal Corps, World War I. 1 x 2.9 cm, 1.7 gm Pigeons were considered an essential element of naval aviation communication when the first United States aircraft carrier USS Langley was commissioned on 20 March 1922; so the ship included a pigeon house on the stern.

The pigeons were trained at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard while Langley was undergoing conversion.

 As long as the pigeons were released a few at a time for exercise, they returned to the ship; but when the whole flock was released while Langley was anchored off Tangier Island, the pigeons flew south and roosted in the cranes of the Norfolk shipyard.

The pigeons never went to sea again.

Dogs of World War 1

Dogs of World War 1

Dogs were used by international forces to deliver vital messages. About a million dogs were killed in action.

Dogs used during WWI included Border Collies, Lurchers, English Sheepdogs, Retrievers and mongrels.

The Airedale Terrier was probably the most common breed used by the British in World War One though.

The Red Cross also commonly used them to find wounded soldiers.

Sergeant Stubby, a Bull Terrier or Boston Terrier, has been called the most decorated war dog of World War I, and the only dog to be nominated for rank and then promoted to sergeant through combat.

Recognized in connection with an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution.

Among many other exploits, he’s said to have captured a German spy. 

He also became a mascot at Georgetown University. 

Rags was another notable World War I

World War 1 Horses

Horses of World War 1

The use of horses in World War I marked a transitional period in the evolution of armed conflict.

Cavalry units were initially considered essential offensive elements of a military force, but over the course of the war, the vulnerability of horses to modern machine gun and artillery fire reduced their utility on the battlefield.

This paralleled the development of tanks, which would ultimately replace cavalry in shock tactics.

While the perceived value of the horse in war changed dramatically, horses still played a significant role throughout the war.

All of the major combatants in World War I (1914–1918) began the conflict with cavalry forces.

Germany stopped using them on the Western Front soon after the war began, but continued limited use on the Eastern Front well into the war.

The Ottoman Empire used cavalry extensively during the war.

On the Allied side united States, the United Kingdom used mounted infantry and cavalry charges throughout the war, but they used cavalry for only a short time.

Although not particularly successful on the Western Front,

Allied cavalry did have some success in the Middle Eastern theatre, against a weaker and less technologically advanced enemy.

Russia used cavalry forces on the Eastern Front, but with limited success.

The military mainly used horses for logistical support; they were better than mechanized vehicles at traveling through deep mud and over rough terrain.

Horses were used for reconnaissance and for carrying messengers, as well as pulling artillery, ambulances, and supply wagons.

The presence of horses often increased morale among the soldiers at the front, but the animals contributed to disease and poor sanitation in camps, caused by their manure and carcasses.

The value of horses, and the increasing difficulty of replacing them, was such that by 1917 some troops were told that the loss of a horse was of a greater tactical concern than the loss of a human soldier.

Ultimately, the blockade of Germany prevented the Central Powers from importing horses to replace those lost, which contributed to Germany’s defeat. 

By the end of the war, even the well-supplied U.S.

The army was short of horses.

Conditions were severe for horses at the front; they were killed by artillery fire, suffered from skin disorders, and were injured by poison gas.

Hundreds of thousands of horses died, and many more were treated at veterinary hospitals and sent back to the front.

Procuring fodder was a major issue, and Germany lost many horses to starvation.

Several memorials have been erected to commemorate the horses that died.

Artists, including Alfred Munnings, extensively documented the work of horses in the war, and horses were featured in war poetry.

Novels, plays, and documentaries have also featured the horses of World War I.