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 Animals in Warfare.

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PostSubject: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 08:55

From the Moggy 3 thread, an expanded discussion on the role of animals in warfare. The first link is taken from the Moggies;

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/objects-of-intrigue-rocket-cats
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 08:59

And then there's also project Blue Peacock of the late 1950s ....

The project's goal was to store a number of nuclear mines to be placed on the North German plain and, in the event of Soviet invasion from the east, detonate these by wire or an eight-day timer.

From Wiki:

One technical problem was that during winter buried objects can get very cold, and it was possible the mine's electronics would get too cold to work after some days underground. Various methods to get around this were studied, such as wrapping the bombs in insulating blankets. One particularly remarkable proposal suggested that live chickens be included in the mechanism. The chickens would be sealed inside the casing, with a supply of food and water; they would remain alive for a week or so. Their body heat would, it seems, have been sufficient to keep the mine's components at a working temperature.

This proposal was sufficiently outlandish that it was taken as an April Fool's Day joke when the Blue Peacock file was declassified on April 1, 2004. Tom O'Leary, head of education and interpretation at the National Archives, replied to the media that, "It does seem like an April Fool but it most certainly is not. The Civil Service does not do jokes".


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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:00

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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:02

Here is the Animals' Cenotaph - War Memorial in Hyde Park:

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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:03

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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:14

I quite like the idea of the exploding rat as developed by the Special Operations Executive in WW2.

It used rat carcasses filled with plastic explosive which in the event of invasion would be left in factories as British forces retreated. It was hoped that by disguising the explosive in a rat, no-body would subject it to too much scrutiny and so they would just be lobbed into the nearest furnace, causing it to explode. The charge was only quite small but it could puncture a high-pressure boiler and so cause a devastating boiler explosion.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:23

During the Cold War there were also the space apes and monkeys, from Wiki

Before humans went into space, several animals were launched into space, including numerous non-human primates, so that scientists could investigate the biological effects of space travel. The United States launched flights containing primate cargo primarily between 1948-1961 with one flight in 1969 and one in 1985. France launched two monkey-carrying flights in 1967. The Soviet Union and Russia launched monkeys between 1983 and 1996. Most primates were anesthetized before lift-off. Overall thirty-two monkeys flew in the space program; none flew more than once. Numerous back-up monkeys also went through the programs but never flew. Monkeys and apes from several species were used, including rhesus monkeys, cynomolgus monkeys, squirrel monkeys, pig-tailed macaques, and chimpanzees.



I shudder at the very idea.


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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:25

Hannibal is, of course, well known for taking elephants across the Alps. Less well known is the trick he used with his cattle herd to mislead the Romans when his army found itself in a difficult position in the Campania;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ager_Falernus#The_night_action
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:35

And it wasn't Pliny the Elder who described the use of incendiary pigs, but rather the writer Polyaenus who reported that during the siege of Megara in 266 BC, the Megarians doused some pigs with combustible pitch or resin, set them alight, and drove them towards the enemy's massed war elephants. The elephants bolted in terror from the flaming, squealing pigs and killed a great number of their own soldiers.

Pliny the Elder just said that "elephants are scared by the smallest squeal of the hog". Is this idea that elephants are frightened by high-pitched squeals were we get the modern legend that elephants are terrified of mice, I wonder.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:36

The (naval) Battle of Drepana in the First Punic War. The sacred chickens of the Romans refused to eat, a very bad omen, so Admiral Publius Claudius Pulcher had them thrown overboard saying "If they won't eat, then they can drink"

The Romans lost.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:44

And as well as Hannibal's cattle and anti-elephant pigs there's the camels used at the Battle of Thymbra 547 BC. The Lydian army under Croesus with a 2 to 1 numerical advantage tried to engulf the smaller Persian army under Cyrus the Great. However on the advice of his general Harpagus, Cyrus deployed all his camel troops, and even his baggage camels, in the front rank of his army. The smell of the camels so terrified the enemy horses that the Lydian cavalry was disrupted and the battle ended as a victory for the Persians.

The details escape me but in a similar vein I seem to recall another ancient battle when one army disrupted the others' cavalry by the simple expedient of deploying a mare in heat, to the great consternation of all the enemy's stallions. Simple but very effective.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 10:29

@Meles meles wrote:

The details escape me but in a similar vein I seem to recall another ancient battle when one army disrupted the others' cavalry by the simple expedient of deploying a mare in heat, to the great consternation of all the enemy's stallions. Simple but very effective.

I'm sure I've heard that story as well.

We can't forget the bottlenose dolphins of the US Navy;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_dolphin
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 10:58

The medieval Destrier was the most prized possession of a knight, and probably the most valuable. Horses were trained from infancy in the art of war, and were also a weapon in themselves. 

Stallions were often used as war horses in Europe due to their natural aggression and hot-blooded tendencies. A 13th-century work describes destriers "biting and kicking" on the battlefield,[39] and, in the heat of battle, war horses were often seen fighting each other.[40] However, the use of mares by European warriors cannot be discounted from literary references.[41] Mares were the preferred war horse of the Moors, the Islamic invaders who attacked various European nations from AD 700 through the 15th century.[10]
War horses were more expensive than normal riding horses, and destriers the most prized, but figures vary greatly from source to source. Destriers are given a values ranging from seven times the price of an ordinary horse[3] to 700 times.[1] The Bohemian king Wenzel II rode a horse "valued at one thousand marks" in 1298.[6] At the other extreme, a 1265 French ordinance ruled that a squire could not spend more than twenty marks on a rouncey.[20] Knights were expected to have at least one war horse (as well as riding horses and packhorses), with some records from the later Middle Ages showing knights bringing twenty-four horses on campaign.[12] Five horses was perhaps the standard.[42]
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 14:27

A short film about the Roman use of wardogs;

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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 14:43

A mine-detector gets a nibble before going into action in a minefield:



The Gambian Pouched Rat - brilliant at detecting mines (once)
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 12 Mar 2014, 15:12

Graves suggests in "Claudius the God" that the Romans used camels to disrupt the Britons' chariotry at the battle of Brentwood. Not sure if that's true or not.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Thu 13 Mar 2014, 09:58

Horses or at any rate equines, have been used in warfare since antiquity. An illustration of a Sumerian War Cart, note that it has solid wheels, nobody has invented spokes at this time;

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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Thu 13 Mar 2014, 14:24

Insects used as biological weapons have a long and inglorious history (and isn't finished yet either). The Black Death as an epidemic, according to one theory, may in fact have started when the Golden Horde hit upon the idea of catapulting the plague-infested corpses of their own army into the Venetian controlled town of Caffa which they were besieging in 1347. Even if this is true it is hardly likely that Janibeg's generals were any wiser than their European counterparts later regarding the role insects played as a vector in spreading the disease so whether it could be strictly classed as "entomological warfare" is a moot point.

We are on only slightly less sure ground when it comes to bees during the late Bronze Age in the Middle East. There appears to be some evidence that bee-hives were used in a similar fashion to hand grenades today for "flushing out" enemy soldiers who had concealed themselves within well-guarded but confined places. However this evidence is circumspect, and it doesn't help the argument when one of its loudest champions, Peter Baumann, speculates that the Ark of the Covenant was similarly booby-trapped.

However with Japan and WWII we hit the real deal. Not only did Japan develop plague fleas as a weapon they were actually deployed to measurable effect against the Chinese. An estimated 500,000 people died from a cocktail of lethal diseases dispersed via bombs filled with both the disease and the vector. So effective did it prove that Canada, on behalf of the allies, quickly raced to match and exceed the enemy in expertise. They're still at it in fact.

In Europe the Colorado Potato Beetle has been the weapon of choice for most would-be entomological warmongers. The target was agricultural produce, but not to kill it - rather to load it with toxins that would then find their way into humans.

Such lovely people we are ....
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Thu 13 Mar 2014, 14:56

I thought the Colorado potato beetle invasion scare has been subsequently shown to have been almost entirely a fiction of East German Government propaganda, rather than to sneaky US impirialism. In short the US found in trials that it wouldn't work ... or rather it would work so well that it would also seriously disrupt agriculture amongst all its European allies, and so it really wasn't worth attempting. But that didn't stop the Stazi from using the idea:

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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Thu 13 Mar 2014, 23:23

I was very surprised to see in 2004 a item in a museum in Sheffield (I think) about elephants being used during WWI in Britain for cartage. I suppose it must have been this one: http://www.museums-sheffield.org.uk/whats-on/events/2014/2/discovery-days 

There was an elephant in the Leeds Armoury place too, but I have forgotten its significance.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Thu 13 Mar 2014, 23:30

@Caro wrote:
I was very surprised to see in 2004 a item in a museum in Sheffield (I think) about elephants being used during WWI in Britain for cartage. 

God be with the days when they were used for Carthage.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 08:43

LOL

Here we are Caro, two elephants in WW1, the first being used for ploughing and the second towing munitions:





Of course it wasn't that elephants were particularly suited to such work, far from it, but all the horses had been comandeered for the army, so everything else was pressed into service: donkeys, goats, dogs, elephants, yaks, llamas, camels ....  But I suspect there was also a propaganda element in using such exotic creatures by showing that even circus and zoo animals were "doing their bit".
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 15:52

WW1 German soldier with dogs, all wearing gas masks;

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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 16:55

@Triceratops wrote:
Horses or at any rate equines, have been used in warfare since antiquity. An illustration of a Sumerian War Cart, note that it has solid wheels, nobody has invented spokes at this time;

Maybe a late version, from the ears & tails - the first ones were pulled by onagers like this :
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 16:59

http://ghostwolf.dyndns.org/words/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/verse/p3/paradesong.html

Not sure if any of the Indian draught teams came over with the sepoys - until Kitchener's army were trained, the Indian Army formed the only trained, readily available, source of reinforcements for the Western Front.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Mon 17 Mar 2014, 13:32

I was reading on one site how glow worms were used as a low level light source in WW1 dugouts.
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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Wed 14 May 2014, 15:00

In WW1 dogs were extensively used by the Belgian and French armies as beasts of burden. In comparison to mules, dogs are loyal, intelligent, easily trained and generally relish hard work ... I wonder why they were not more used by the British?

This is a Belgian machine gun company in September 1914. Since this is so early in the war the use of dogs to pull the the light guns and limbers is clearly routine and not due to any shortage of horses or mules.

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PostSubject: Re: Animals in Warfare.   Sun 29 Jun 2014, 15:37

We haven't mention Corporal Wojtek yet, have we?

Irena Bokiewicz, a young Polish refugee walking across the Elbruz mountains as she escaped from the Soviet Union, bought the bear from a boy in a market in Hamadan, Iran, after the bear’s mother had been killed. When the bear cub became too big for her, Irena donated him to the Polish Army based in Iran, where he was raised by the troops. As the bear was less than a year old, he initially was fed with condensed milk from an emptied vodka bottle and, subsequently, fed with fruit, marmalade, honey and syrup.  The soldiers also regularly rewarded Wojtek for good behaviour with beer, which became his favourite drink. He was taught to salute when greeted, as well as other tasks around the military camp. Soon, Wojtek became an attraction for soldiers and civilians alike, and soon became an unofficial mascot for all the units stationed nearby. Over time, Wojtek moved around the Middle East with the company, moving through Iraq and then Syria, Palestine and Egypt.
The company then faced the issue of how to get him on to a British transport ship when the unit sailed from Egypt to fight with the British 8th Army in the Italian campaign.
Allied commanders had issued an order that troops advancing on Rome were not to be accompanied by animals, and so the bear was promptly enlisted in the 22nd Transport Division (Artillery Supply) of the Polish 2nd Army Corps as a corporal.
During his most famous escapade, the animal voluntarily carried shells for Allied guns during the brutal Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944, helping his friends by transporting ammunition and never dropping a single crate.
In recognition of the bear's popularity, the HQ approved an effigy of a bear holding an artillery shell as the official emblem of the 22nd Company (by then renamed to 22nd Transport Company).
Following the end of World War II in 1945, the bear could not be repatriated to Poland and so was transported to Berwickshire in Scotland, along with parts of the II Corps. Stationed in the village of Hutton, near Duns, Wojtek soon became popular among local civilians and the press. The Polish-Scottish Association made Wojtek one of its honorary members.
After demobilization in November, 1947, Wojtek was then given to the Edinburgh Zoo where he spent the rest of his days, often visited by journalists and former Polish soldiers.

Wojtek died in December 1963, at the age of 22. At the time of his death he weighed nearly 500 pounds (230 kg) and had a length of over 6 feet (1.8 meters).

Here's his statue in Edinburgh.



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