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20 Incredible Pictures Of Brave Animals On The Battlefields Of World War I

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Aside from the human carnage of the First World War, animals were also recruited into military service performing a variety of tasks from carrying messages to pulling heavy artillery. Some acted as mascots for regiments, while other simply strayed across the bloodshed and were adopted by soldiers to help boost morale amidst the depravity and death of the Western Front. Many died in service, faithfully carrying out their duties amid the shells, bullets and the gas. Thanks to photos collected by the Great War Primary Documents Archive, we celebrate the brave animals of WWI, many of who never came home.

  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Sentry dog on the Western Front, 1914. Served with the Belgian army (British War Dogs: Their Training and Psychology; Skeffington & Son, Ltd, London)
  • World War I, English Captain Richardson with his dog, in 1914. (Photo by Maurice-Louis Branger/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    British soldier and horse wearing gas gear
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    British supply horse sunk in Flanders mud (War of the Nations, New York Times Co., New York, 1919)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    British soldier playing with mascot dog "Jack" (Illustrated War News, Vol. 7, Illustrated London News & Sketch)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    CIRCA 1914: War 1914-1918. Medical dog trailing a French wounded. (Photo by ND/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
  • Dog trainer Major Richardson helps the French employ canine assistance in sentry work and scouting during World War I, circa 1914. (Photo by Paul Thompson/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Sending off a message with a messenger dog (British War Dogs: Their Training and Psychology; Skeffington & Son, Ltd, London)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Messenger dog "Nell", who worked throughout the war (British War Dogs: Their Training and Psychology; Skeffington & Son, Ltd, London)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Pet magpie found in captured German trench (Birds and the War, Skeffington & Son, London, 1919)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    French soldier with pet fox
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    French soldier with pet cats (New York Times, 02/11/1917)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Carrier pigeon released from aircraft - Birds and the War, Skeffington & Son, London, 1919
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Mice used for detecting fuel vapors on a British submarine (History of the World War, Vol. 3, Doubleday, Page & Co., 1917)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Canaries, used for the detection of poisonous gas (Birds and the War, Skeffington & Son, London, 1919)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Members of the British Camel Corps (The War Illustrated Album DeLuxe, Vol. 1: Amalgamated Press, London, 1915)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    British soldier playing with mascot cat (Illustrated War News, Vol. 7, Illustrated London News & Sketch, London, 1918)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Messenger dog bringing a message across a river on the Western Front (British War Dogs: Their Training and Psychology; Skeffington & Son, Ltd, London)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    War dogs off to the training ground (British War Dogs: Their Training and Psychology; Skeffington & Son, Ltd, London)
  • (Courtesy of The Great War Primary Documents Archive www.gwpda.org)
    Canaries, used to soothe wounded aboard a hospital train (Birds and the War, Skeffington & Son, London, 1919)
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