Page 13 - Chiron Spring 2018
P. 13

 safely delivered in spite of this method being a neglected asset at the outset, especially as the British Admiralty used pigeons on mine-sweeping trawlers, submarines and sea-planes and contrasting with the more efficient Army Pigeon Services of both Belgium and Germany.
The advantage of pigeons in addition to their proven reliability were the height at which they flew and their speed, with one bird backed by a following wind flying 38 miles in 20 minutes, they presented a small target for deliberate rifle fire and they could also fly in foggy conditions, and there are many stories of wounded pigeons successfully reaching their battlefield destinations.
Thus ‘negative technology’ clearly helped in battlefield communications. Such was the importance attributed to the military use of pigeons that severe penalties were incurred if any were shot or otherwise interfered with on the Home Front.
Killing, wounding or molesting
homing pigeons is punishable under the Defence of the Realm Regulations by Six Months Imprisonment or £100 Fine
The public are reminded that homing pigeons are doing valuable work for the government, and are requested to assist in the suppression of the shooting of these birds.
£5 Reward
will be paid by the National Homing Union for information leading
to the conviction of any person SHOOTING HOMING PIGEONS the property of its members.
Information should be given to the Police, Military Post or to the Secretary of the Union, C C Plackett, 14, East Parade, Leeds
Dogs are mans oldest domesticated animal species and there exists between man and dog a strong and tangible relationship based upon mutual trust. Yet it is not surprising that following on from antiquity dogs were used in World War 1. Their importance and usefulness was recognised early on such that the German Army commandeered all suitable dogs as they advanced through Belgium and France, sending them back for training backed by good veterinary oversight.
The few dogs attached to French regiments were better organised from December 1914 with operational dog units attached to each Army Corps. Similarly, the Germans started with 6000 trained dogs plus reserves and even the Italians and Russians had military dogs. Britain, however, had no official dog cover
early in the war apart from two individual dogs with two different infantry regiments. But Colonel Edwin Richardson whose astute appreciation of dogs working with the military and with personal experiences based on his travels in Germany and Russia before the war effected the introduction of trained Airedales with notable success and the use of dogs in
the British Army grew from then on.
Dogs were used for a range of tasks
during the course of the war: • guards & sentries
• scouts
• messengers
• casualty dogs
• explosive/mine detection
• telephone line layers
• draught animals and finally,
• rodent control.
Dogs were used as sentries in tandem
with a soldier and were highly efficient at scenting or hearing suspect movements, and responding with a warning growl or bark to alert both defender and aggressor; they were thus effective in guarding military supply depots and were used in Salonika, Egypt, Mesopotamia and in the early phases on the Western Front, and of course on the Home Front.
Scout dogs also patrolled with soldiers ahead of other troops and detecting enemy soldiers moving or in ambush would quietly show such presence and direction by pointing and raising their hackles, whilst German scout dogs were trained to bark if an enemy trench was occupied.
However, it was in the extensive Western Front trench network stretching from the North Sea to Switzerland that dogs were valued as messengers. Telephone wires were far from efficient and frequently cut by artillery barrages - dogs could run faster than soldiers especially over any kind of broken ground and were a much smaller target for snipers. A British Army messenger dog is credited with running over 4000 metres in less than 60 minutes to a brigade HQ.
Military dog numbers comprised:
• Germans - 30,000
• Italians – 3,000 handled for their
• British & French - 20,000
Casualty dogs were introduced by the
Germans to locate wounded soldiers and some carried basic medical items for those soldiers who could treat themselves; other dogs guided stretcher bearers to
French sentry dog in the Vosges mountains
 1st aid dog & messenger dog

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