In this remembrance season it is appropriate to also remember those animals that served – and suffered – without which the BSF could not have functioned. Mules and horses are the most obvious, but there was also the humble, but vital, carrier pigeon.
Last weekend Mrs Braysher and I slipped across the border into Suffolk. On our way we took the opportunity to visit the Redwings Horse Sanctuary visitor centre at Caldecott, to visit the Society’s mule, Muffin. Continue reading “Muffin and company”
Mules don’t feature on television very often, so what a joy it was to see Martina in Gary Lineker: My Grandad’s War on BBC1 on Monday 11th. A lovely Italian mule, Martina – in an all too brief appearance – explained to Gary (yes, that Gary Lineker) the important role mules played in supply and casualty evacuation on the mountainous front line of the Italian campaign during the Second World War. In the programme, Gary followed the route of his late grandfather from Salerno to Monte Cassino to understand his experiences as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps and why British troops in Italy came to be known as ‘D-Day Dodgers’.
It’s impossible not to see parallels with the Macedonian campaign: a Mediterranean front with challenging terrain and climate, overshadowed by the main fighting in north-west Europe and considered a ‘cushy number’ by those not there; of course, the Italian campaign was a far bloodier business. The programme will be available on the BBC iPlayer for the next month or so and you can read about it here.
INVASION OF ITALY : EIGHTH ARMY – Original wartime caption: To defeat the demolition menace, the 8th Army have once againresorted to the mule. These pictures show an RASC pack transport company trekking through the mountains with stores and ammunition for our forward patrols. The mules are able to avoid normal diversions and travel by way of the tortuous mountain paths.© IWM (NA 6748)
This is one of an impressive collection of photos in the excellent IWM online collection showing mules in Italy (search: mules Italy). Searching ‘mules Salonika’ will find photos of British military mules from a generation earlier.
My thanks go to Ben Franks for sharing with us this fascinating blog about Charlie Bailey, who served with 22nd Division in Salonika:
This week Redwings Adoption Star Muffin celebrated his 32nd birthday. I’m ashamed to say that I am late with this news as the actual celebration was on Sunday 14th April. I hope he will accept these belated best wishes from the SCS. We hope he had a good party and enjoyed his cake. Continue reading “Birthday wishes to Muffin!”
If you can get to the National Army Museum in Chelsea before 3 March, then I heartily recommend the exhibition of First World war paintings by Sir Alfred Munnings, one of Britain’s most celebrated equine artists, who attended the Norwich Art School.
I am pleased to announce the publication of a book which describes and honours the service of the military mule. It could be said that mules have had walk-, or trot-on roles in many volumes of military history, but I believe this is the first book in which the British military mule has taken centre stage without having to share the limelight with horses and camels! Continue reading “Mule Lines : British military mules in the spotlight”
The new Chinese Year of the Dog seems to have caused quite a lot of interest, so I don’t see why we should be left out and I know exactly the photo to use …
If you are a regular visitor to this web site, or you read our excellent journal, The New Mosquito, you will know that at the start of the centenary we ‘adopted’ Muffin, a rescued mule at a Norfolk horse sanctuary. This is in recognition of the vital role played by mules in the campaign, by keeping the troops supplied and evacuating casualties. We have received this news about Muffin from Redwings Horse Sanctuary …
My thanks go to Richard Devereux, once again, for alerting me to an article on Cypriot muleteers in the Macedonian campaign. This is a reminder – if one were needed – of what a multinational venture the campaign was (beyond the ‘official’ Allied Nations). Continue reading “Mule Lines : Cypriot Muleteers”