LLE817194 Canadian soldier with a dog 'captured' at Courcelette, Somme, France, World War I (b/w photo) by Canadian Photographer, (20th century); Private Collection; (add.info.: Canadian soldier with a dog 'captured' at Courcelette, Somme, France, World War I.); © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection; Canadian,  it is possible that some works by this artist may be protected by third party rights in some territories

WWI Animal Heroes

We explore the contribution of dogs, horses, kangaroos and more during the Great War effort with images and footage in the Bridgeman archive.

An Australian mascot, illustration from 'The Illustrated War News', 27th September 1916 (sepia photo), English Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection
An Australian mascot, illustration from ‘The Illustrated War News’, 27th September 1916 (sepia photo), English Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection

Messengers and forms of transport

War horses‘ were heavily utilised in World War I transporting supplies and soldiers. Machine guns, however, took them down quickly and hundreds upon thousands of horses were lost over the course of the Great War. Dogs, thanks to their speed and agility, acted as scouts and for delivering messages between troops. Mail was also delivered by carrier pigeons as they were able to fly over the enemy.

 

Companions and moral support

Dogs, being man’s best friend, were the most popular pets during World War I and beloved mascots. Offering companionship and psychological comfort,they helped the troops forget the horrors of war and maintain a sense of togetherness.Other mascots included a gazelle, a monkey, a kangaroo and an anteater!

 

anteater
Anteater, mascot of an American regiment, 1917-18, Jacques Moreau(b.1887) / Archives Larousse, Paris, France / Giraudon

 

Homing pigeons, 1915 by Jacques Moreau (b.1887) / Archives Larousse, Paris, France / Giraudon
Homing pigeons, 1915 by Jacques Moreau (b.1887) / Archives Larousse, Paris, France / Giraudon

Find our more

View all images and footage material of animals in World War I on the Bridgeman website, or visit our World War One Centenary page for a more in-depth study into this period.

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