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The Animals' War book written by historian Juliet Gardiner

PUBLISHED: 16:19 17 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:35 20 February 2013

Animals in war

Animals in war

THERE are many unsung heroes of conflict, but what about those of the four-legged, furry or feathered variety? A major exhibition reveals the remarkable role of animals in conflicts from the First World War to the present day.

THERE are many unsung heroes of conflict, but what about those of the four-legged, furry or feathered variety? A major exhibition reveals the remarkable role of animals in conflicts from the First World War to the present day.

The Animals' War uses photographs, film, sculpture, memorabilia and hands-on interactive displays to explore the intriguing and often surprising stories of animals in war. It is estimated that 16 million animals served during the First World War, and by 1916 alone the warring nations had raised 103 cavalry divisions with over a million horses.

Despite increasing mechanisation and advances in technology, animals have continued to play their part in the front line. Mules, elephants, camels, horses and other beasts have transported men and material in difficult terrain.

In the Second World War over 200,000 carrier pigeons were used by Britain's armed forces and secret service organisations. Dogs have guarded military personnel and property, located injured soldiers, tracked down enemy insurgents and sniffed out explosives.



More recently rats and pigs have also been trained to clear minefields and dolphins' sensitive sonar has been exploited to identify mines in the Persian Gulf.

Animals of many kinds, from dogs and cats to lions and eagles, have also been adopted officially and unofficially as pets and mascots by the armed forces.

A number of these will be featured in the exhibition including Rin Tin Tin, who was found as a puppy on the Western Front and went on to become a Hollywood legend; Judy, the pointer, the only animal to have been officially registered as a Japanese prisoner of war; and Simon of HMS Amethyst, the only cat to have been awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal known as the animals' Victoria Cross. Dickin Medals on display will include those awarded to three police horses during the V1Flying Bomb Offensive of 1944 and to Buster, the spaniel, who located a cache of arms in Iraq in 2003.

The Animals' War book written by historian Juliet Gardiner with a foreword by novelist Jilly Cooper is published by Portrait and priced 20


The Animals' War

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