Animals in War: Unsung heroes of World War II

Like soldiers, animals plays a vital role in war situation. In world war II when means of transport, communication, etc. are scarce. Many animals in war helped countries to reduce casualties.

World War II started in 1939 worldwide. It affected the economies and lives for each member on the earth. We often remember the services and sacrifices of our brave soldiers who lost their lives. But there is one category that we often forget. That is services of pet or trained animals in war. Without the help of these fearless creatures, many strategies cannot pulled off. Later awards and medals announced for animals like The Dickin Medal . One museum in USA dedicated to wartime animals. In this article we are going to discuss and acknowledge the unique help these animals provided to countries.


Horses are by far the most important animals in war or peace situation. In WW2 horses used for transportation, to mount while fighting, taking the whole infantry to other location, helping wounded soldiers, etc. Upstart ­ a police horse awarded the PDSA Dickin medal on 11th April 1947. The citation reads: “While on patrol duty in Bethnal Green a flying bomb exploded within 75 yards, showering both horse and rider with broken glass and debris. Upstart completely unperturbed and remained quietly on duty with his rider controlling traffic, etc., until the incident had dealt with.” This is one example, whereas 3 horses get this medal so far.

Elephants, Unique animals in war

Elephant is a rather giant animals to domesticated or trained for war. But USA and British soldiers were capable enough to handle such big responsibility. In world war 2 they uses elephants to remove blockage, Clear bomb wastes and destructions, carry heavy objects and troops, Carry food and facilities etc. Elephants widely used in Africa, India and neighboring countries.


Dogs often loved as pets and trust worthy companions. But if they trained they can be pretty helpful. In world war 2, dogs used to detect hidden mines, finding lost soldiers, lay off wires to know enemies moves, to lay off heat and tension after fighting and what not. Rob, a­ Collie awarded the PDSA Dickin medal on 22nd  January 1945. Citation: “Took part in landings during North African Campaign with an Infantry unit and later served with a Special Air Unit in Italy as patrol and guard on small detachments lying-up in enemy territory. His presence with these parties saved many of them from discovery and subsequent capture or destruction. Rob made over 20 parachute descents.” Moreover 18 dogs get this medal so far.

Rob getting a medal

Camels, dessert’s soldier

Like elephants, camels also are a big animal to handle. In world war 2, camels used to transport food, wounded soldiers, weapons, heavy objects and machinery, first aid, etc. Upper Nile, the Arab Legion, Egyptian Camel Corps and Bikaner Camel Corps of Indian troops who had artillery support provided by the camel-mounted Bijay Battery, and the British organized Druze Regiment.


Pigeons seems like an innocent and meek kind of bird. But it used efficiently in war. Around 200,000 pigeons used in WW2 for various purposes. They used for sending secret messages, taking Ariel view of enemies by placing cameras on their chest, discussing war strategies and etc. GI Joe, Pigeon awarded the PDSA Dickin medal in August 1946. The citation reads: “This bird credited with making the most outstanding flight by a USA Army Pigeon in World War II. Making the 20 mile flight from British 10th Army HQ, in the same number of minutes, it brought a message which arrived just in time to save the lives of at least 100 Allied soldiers from bombed by their own planes.”

Cats, cutest animals in war

Cats are the most innocent and human friendly animal in the history. Since war is very exhausting and traumatizing. Many soldiers pets a stray or abandoned cat in the troop. Cats helps them to release tensions and play with them. They increases the efficiency of soldiers. Simon, the ship’s cat aboard HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident of 1949, awarded a posthumous PDSA Dickin Medal for his devotion to duty despite suffering terrible injuries when the British warship shelled by the Chinese Communist forces. During the 101 days HMS Amethyst held captive on the Yangtze River, Simon devoted his time to catching the rats that threatened the crew’s dwindling rations.


Mules provided the backbone of British Army logistics over difficult terrain transporting ammunition, equipment, medical panniers and even the wounded over what amounted to thousands of miles during the course of the war. The first of some 3,000 mules to serve with the British Expeditionary Force landed in France in December 1939 in the charge of Royal Indian Army Service Corps and Cyprus Regiment troops.

Mules served in every theatre of war in every climate, from the snowy passes of Lebanon and the deserts of Ethiopia, to the mountain country of Italy. Mules provided notable service for the deep penetration missions of the Chindits deep into the jungles of Burma between 1943-44.

Other Efficient Animals in War

Along with these animals, bears, mongoose, mouse, dessert rat and many other animals played their small but effective part in world war 2. If we say that a major part of war success goes to these animals then it cannot be untrue. World war 2 took too many lives but it surely gave a new perspective that animals can be human’s best friend and partners as well.

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