Animals in World War One seen through rare photographs, 1914-1918

While World War I saw the development of modern, technological warfare, it placed unprecedented demands on what we might see as archaic methods of campaign.

Despite tanks, planes and machine guns, fighting still relied on the physical and emotional suffering and sacrifice of men, who had to contend with mud, sand, water, disease, and often even brutal weather.

In addition, like fighting men from ancient times, the armies of the Allies and Central Powers relied on the efforts and skills of animals for transportation, logistics, communication, and sometimes, solace.

It is almost impossible to imagine the extent of the logistical equipment that made war possible. Today, hundreds of tons of ordnance have yet to be discovered under the former battlefields of Belgium and France. Tea

The numbers and weights involved are enormous: for example, during the Battle of Verdun, some 32 million shells were fired, while before the Battle of the Somme the British barrage fired around 1.5 million shells (in total, about 250 million shells were fired). were used by the British Army and Navy during the war).

Railways, trucks and ships carried these warships for most of their journey, but they relied on hundreds of thousands of horses, donkeys, oxen, and even camels or dogs for their transport.

Field guns were pulled into position by teams of six to 12 horses, and the dead and wounded were carried in horse-drawn ambulances.

Millions of men at the front and rear also had to supply food and equipment, most of which were again carried by four-legged animals of burden. Due to the deep mud and pits in the front, much of it could only be carried by mules or horses.

Even the British army, which could claim it was the most mechanized of the belligerent forces, relied largely on horsepower for its transport, much of it held by the Army Service Corps: until November 1918 The British army had about 500,000 horses, which helped to distribute 34,000 tons of meat and 45,000 tons of bread every month.

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