Since ages, animals have helped humans to carry out their day-to-day activities. But it was during wars that animals outstretched their limits and played a decisive role in gaining victories.
All of these animal soldiers have been crucial to the development of warfare in many parts of the world and have intrigued people who noticed them in combat mode over the years.
Read on to know more about them.
In 1919, a famous photo was taken showing rows of soldiers paying tribute to millions of horses and mules that died in World War I.
The picture might remind you of the story of War Horse, a famed children’s book made into a hit play and eventually a popular movie.
But the truth is that horses and other animals have been important for many armies over the years.
Horses were commonly used by various forces in World War I, as many modern vehicles were not invented then.
About eight million horses were killed while in combat during the war. They were memorialised in 2004 in a monument in London by David Backhouse.
Horses weren’t the only animals in combat. In addition to carrier pigeons delivering messages and camels being used by Arab cavalry units, Germans used elephants to help them break large physical barriers.
Horses were also used in World War II. Nearly 600,000 horses were used by German forces. However, it is widely believed that the German army’s too much reliance on horses was caused its downfall.
In 1943, German forces in Stalingrad had killed to eat their horses. This came after they had lost access to ration supplies. Many piles of horse hooves could be found in some of their camp spots around Stalingrad.
While many dogs in WW I spooled phone wires and transported carrier pigeons, dogs became more commonplace during the second war. The forces discovered their new uses like finding bodies and goods through smelling.
During WW II, dogs helped to search for wounded men after battles and also carried messages around.
Stubby was a very prominent dog who served American forces in WW II. He was a Boston Terrier who had a strong sensitivity to gas following a chemical weapon attack.
He helped American forces to trace chemical threats and alerted troops about them. He also found a German spy who was trying to map trenches.
At present, dogs are commonly used in warfare instead of horses. They are used to help identify things like bombs and weapons and can also work as security guards at checkpoints.
Dogs in combat are often given ranks like any other person. Some dogs have been known to outrank the people they worked alongside.
A Belgian Malinois named Cairo was used by Seal Team 6 during their 2011 mission to infiltrate a Pakistan compound which housed Osama Bin Laden. Cairo worked to help sniff out bombs and other features around the area and was ordered to identify any associates of Bin Laden.