Animals in War by Jilly Cooper

By Jilly Cooper

Jilly Cooper has written a tribute to the function of animals in wartime. From the pigeons wearing very important messages to and from the beleaguered urban through the Seige of Paris to canine sniffing out mines for the British invasion strength in global conflict II. A shiny list of man's inhumanity to animals, and an superb tale of braveness.

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On a more macabre note, there were even greater problems in burying all the dead horses. Exhausted troops had to dig huge graves in sandy places, and as the sand was thrown out, it fell back in again at the sides. Matters reached a level of black comedy, when an attempt was made to float carcasses out to sea. They wouldn’t sink, and the hooves, protruding out of the water, were on more than one occasion mistaken for the periscopes of hostile submarines. Even more hideous conditions prevailed in South Africa, where in 1915 there was a complete breakdown of the railways, and therefore of forage supplies.

Out of 256,000 horses lost by the British on the Western Front, only 58,000 or fewer than a quarter were destroyed by enemy fire. Worst of all, during the first winter of the war, was the risk of death from overexposure. The retreat from Mons had put all plans for stabling and hospital accommodation askew and the wretched horses had to be picketed out in the open. An Exmoor or New Forest pony can survive outside in winter because he keeps moving and grows a thick shaggy coat for protection. The delicate army horses, used to living in stables, were not only tied up, but also, because the army believed long coats led to mange, clipped out as well.

Even the tiny glow-worm guided soldiers in the First World War. Remember them all. They had no choice. ’ I asked. ’ Anna Sewell: BLACK BEAUTY On the morning of Tuesday 20 July 1982, a new guard formed by the Blues and Royals Mounted Squadron rode out from Hyde Park Barracks to take over as the Guards at Whitehall. Well aware that they were the loveliest sight in London, they rode with pride, and the usual crowd gathered along the pavement to marvel and applaud. Just as they were approaching Hyde Park Corner, a nail bomb hidden in a nearby car was detonated, killing four members of the guard.

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