150330 History Talk 30th Mar 2015: Animals in Warfare

The Animals in War Memorial in Hyde Park London Designed by David Backhouse

Date: Monday 30th Mar 2015 10:30 (note changed date)

Location: Salón de Actos, Espai la Senieta, Moraira (next to the large free car park)

Subject:  Animals in Warfare

Lecturers: Brian Nicholls

Free entry

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a sentimental presentation along the lines of ‘Warhorse’. It is not and neither does it concentrate solely on horses.

In War; horses, mules, donkeys, dogs, bullocks, elephants, camels, reindeer and pigeons were all of maximum importance in their place and time. Even cats, far too superior to participate in combat (except among themselves and the occasional dog), found themselves in a war zone.

Without horses and mules, there may never have been civilisation as we know it today. Genghis Khan would never have swept across Europe. The Roman Empire would not have extended outside Italy. If the Spanish had not introduced the horse to the New World the American West would not have been so easily settled. The constant European wars could not have been so devastatingly fought. Until the Industrial Revolution, rapidly deployed horsed cavalry closely followed by horse pulled artillery were the two most feared military arms on the battlefield. World War 1 was primarily fought with animal power being very much more in evidence than mechanised vehicles. By 1939 Britain had, for the most part, ceased to rely on the use of animals in warfare but throughout World War 2 both Germany and Russia for all their advanced technology continued to use cavalry and/or horse-drawn artillery.