ANZAC Day is a commemorative day where we remember those we have lost, those who fought and of course those who continue to fight for our freedom. In addition to soldiers, doctors, nurses and all the roles of humans in war, we often forget about the role that animals played.
From mascots and messengers to transportation support, animals are put to many uses in war. Sometimes they have jobs to do: the horses, camels, mules, and donkeys used to transport soldiers and equipment, as well as carrier pigeons and tracker dog with their special talents. In addition, often animals are used as mascots and pets, or as symbols on badges and flags.
In the lead up to 2022, Proviro wanted to put a spotlight on the untold heroes of the war – that of the service animals who stood alongside our men and women – many of whom never made it home.
More than 16 million animals served during the First World War, including cats, dogs, horses, birds, camels and mules. They were mascots, provided comfort, carried messages, transported wounded soldiers to safety, and were instrumental in moving large quantities of ammunition, food and water, and medical supplies.
Images from the Australian War Memorial immortalise the loyalty and sacrifice of these animals. These are just a tiny glimpse into the way they supported their battalions.
Here’s an overview of the roles and responsibilities our four-legged mates made in past wars.