Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Use of Animals in the War

1.Artillary Horses 2.Horses with Gas Masks

There are several references to war horses throughout No More Parades For example:

Army Veterinary Corps:
"The A.S.C. fellow [Hotchkiss] had been talking positively about horses. He had offered his services in order to study the variation of pink eye that was decimating all the service horses in the lines. He had been a professor-positively a professor- in some farriery college or other. Tiejen's said in that case, he ought to be in the A.V.C. - The Royal Army Veterinary Corps perhaps it was. The old man said he didn't know. He imagined that the R.A.S.C. had wanted his service for their own horses...."(316). As well as references to a charger (320), a galloper (388) etc. The use of horse was important in the war and Tietjen's. They could be seen as man's best friend on the battle field.

The use of horses in the war:

*Troops trained to fight on horseback were called Cavalry: In Canada some mounted troops were refered to as "Dragoons" and "Light Dragoons".
*"For almost two hundred years there had been two types of mounted solider in British service. Units of horse fought on horseback using edged weapons, the horse itself being a weapon used to ride down the enemy in charge of a pursuit. Dragoons were originally infantrymen, equipped with firearms, who fought on foot but were transported by horse, although over the years they were used less and less.... Light Dagoons were less heavily equipped and mounted on faster horses to facilitate their use in reconnaissance and screening operations"(11).
(The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps by John Marteinson and Micheal R. McNorgan. 2000. The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association)
*"The contribution of animals, especially to the transport services and artillery, was of central importance to the Great War. Without them the guns would have run out of ammunition, the infantry would have missed breakfast, the distribution of mail would have ceased, and many urgent casualties could not have been evacuated from the battle zone"(193).
"Although horses were useless in the trenches, "in Flanders and France, as on all other fronts, horses and mules were required for two basic purposes. One: to pull guns and wagons and carry packages and two: to wait patiently for the artillery and infantry to breach the enemy positions and then dash through and cut off their escape. During the peak month of August 1917, the British had 368,000 horses and 82,000 mules on the western front. One third of these were for riding and the others were draught or pack animals"(190).
"Horse transport also played an essential role in maintaining the lines of communication.Supplies for British field units were taken by train from the channel depots to railheads approximately ten to twelve miles from the trenches. At the rail heads they uploaded on to motor trucks, or sometimes light railways, to be transported to an assemble point about five miles from the front line. The combat divisions collected their supplies from these advance depots and brought them forward by horse or mule power. Horses were used to pull the divisional supply trains because the last few miles of road were so badly catered that they were impassable to all motor vehicles except the heavy artillery’s caterpillar tractors"(190)
*"Man and beast marched together into battle. There were few heroic charges, instead an endless column of animals bearing heavy loads toiled through the mud and rain, often in darkness; frequently to the accompaniment of shell or machine-gun fire(203).
*According to John Glubb (presumming a solider) experienced transport horses did not worry about shelling, and only gave a “plunge” when one exploded nearby. They stuck to their task with remarkable stoicism” (191).
"At Flers on the Somme, in October 1916, horses were used to pill makeshift sledges carrying the wounded, because the mud was so bad that stretcher parties could barely walk"(191).
"After a hard day’s work, in muddy conditions it could take up to twelve hours to clean the horses and their harnesses"(191).
"The use of horses and mules, and the stock of military animals increased from 535,000 in 1915 to 870, 000 in 1917"(193).

The sick and wounded:

*"Sick and wounded horses and mules were the responsibility of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. Up to 90,000 animals at a time were to be found in hospitals and convalescent homes with British forces throughout the world. On the Western front the treatment of battle casualties was revolutionized. Mobile veterinary sections accompanied the combat divisions. Wounded animals were destroyed on the spot or taken to casualty clearing stations, where their injuries could be assessed and emergency treatment given. Survivors were evacuated to the main hospitals in horse drawn ambulances or the motor vans donated by the R.S.P.C.A. Convalescent animals were sent to recuperation centers before being returned to the front. Preventative medicine was also practiced and animals were regularly inspected for disease. One third of the horses on the western front were provided with rudimentary masks which were effective against chlorine but not mustard gas"(198,99).
"Gunfire and gas accounted for a surprisingly small proportion of horse mortality. Horses had mostly to fear from exhaustion and mud borne and respiratory diseases(199).
*"Taking the war as a whole, each year 15% of the animals employed by the British army were either killed, reported missing, died or abandoned"(199).

Horse debate:

"Frequent calls were made during the war for economies in the use of horses". It was thought that horses played a small role in the war and that the cost of them was not equal to their use. " Vast sums were psnt buying and shipping animals from far places of the world to the battle field"(202)."Lord Kitchener, the secretary of state for the war, ordered the appointement in 1916 of a committee to report on ways of reducing the number of horses"(192).The R.S.P.C.A. wanted the number of horses reduced for other reasons. The death rates of army horses in other wars was appalling to the R.S.P.C.A. and "petitions were affressed to the gorvernment calling for action to be taken to reduce the suffering of wonded animals. They lobbyed the government on animal welfare issues and they donated motor ambulances to the veterinary service.
This is reflected in Parades End:
Tietjens says: “some damn fool of a literary civilian had been writing passionate letters to the papers insisting that all horses and mules must be ablolished in the army... Because of their pestilence- spereading dung...It might be decreed by A.C.I. that no more horses were to be used! ...Imagine taking battalion supplies down by night with motor lorries..." (Ford, 484)

After the war:

"When the war was over the disposal of army animals was a sensitive political issue in the United Kingdom. Although the public accepted that horses had to die on the field of honour, they insisted that veterans be found a decent retirement home"(201).
*"The disposal of horses and other animals was placed under the jurisdiction of the veterinary corps. French and Italitan farmers were rationed to a maximum of two animals each and they had to produce a certificate of good behaviour signed by the mayor. About 45,000 animals were sold to French horse butchers"(201)
*Despite promises some horses were still sold and put to work in quarries and the transport industry...this was exposed in the 1920's amd Dorothy Brooke the wife of an English officer, exposed the scandle and established a charity to help the victims" (201).
*"over 100,00 horses were repriated to Britian and sold at auction draught- horses being the greatest in demand....The British army sold 225,812 animals at hoime and abroad by march 1919"(201).
Source:Article by John Singleton
Past and Present No.139.(May, 1993), pp 178-203
*In book one Tietjens says " A wonderful magnetism with horses. Perhaps with women too?" (140).
"Captian Tietjen's was known to be wonderful with horses" (372).
Tietjen's appears to have great powers over horses, but why not Sylvia? Or does he?
-Horses were seen as stoic soliders (article) as well as soilders seemed stoic. They struggled to no let their inner id be shown and the character of Valentine appears to be similar in this way. Tietjen's refers to her in book one as just as good as a man- maybe that is why he gets along with Valentine more? Because she is as stoic as he is. Less of a wild mare?
Tietjen’s repeatedly refers to Sylvia as a "thoroughbred" (299).
"She was a thoroughbred. He had always credited her with being that. And now she was behaving as if she had every mean vice that a mare could have. Or it looked like it. Was that, then, because she had been in his stable? But how in the world otherwise could he have run their lives? She had been unfaithful to him. She had never been anything but unfaithful to him, before or after marriage. In a high handed way so that he could not condem her, though it was disagreeable enough to himself" (Tiejen's 350).

The Artillery Horse's Prayer

"To thee, my master, I offer my prayer.
"Treat me as a living being, not as a machine.
"Feed me, water and care for me, and when the day's work is done, groom me carefully so that my circulation may act well, for remember: a good grooming is equivalent to half a feed. Clean my feet and legs and keep them in good condition, for they are the most important parts of my body.
"Pet me sometimes, be always gentle to me so that I may serve you the more gladly and learn to love you.
"Do not jerk the reins, do not whip me when I am going up-hill. Do not force me out of the regular gait or you will not have my strength when you want it. Never strike, beat or kick me when I do not understand what you mean, but give me a chance to understand you. Watch me, and if I fail to do your bidding, see if something is not wrong with my harness or feet.
"Don't draw the straps too tight: give me freedom to move my head. Don't make my load too heavy, and oh! I pray thee, have me well shod every month.
"Examine my teeth when I do not eat; I may have some teeth too long or I may have an ulcerated tooth and that, you know, is very painful. Do not tie my head in an unnatural position or take away my best defense against flies and mosquitoes by cutting off my tail.
"I cannot, alas, tell you when I am thirsty, so give me pure, cold water frequently. Do all you can to protect me from the sun; and throw a cover over me-not when I am working, but when I am standing in the cold.
"I always try to do cheerfully the work you require of me: and day and night I stand for hours patiently waiting for you.
"In this war, like any other soldier, I will do my best without hope of any war-cross, content to serve my country and you, and, if need be, I will die calm and dignified on the battlefield; therefore, oh! my master, treat me in the kindest way and your God will reward you here and hereafter.
"I am not irreverent if I ask this, my prayer, in the name of Him who was born in a stable."

NOTE-Written by Captain De Condenbove, French Army, during the World War.
The above appeared in Field Artillery Manual, Vol. I, by Arthur R. Wilson, Capt., Field Artillery, U.S. Army, published 1926.

Other animals used in the war:
Messenger Pigions

Dogs to search for the wounded