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.
Black soldiers in the BSF seem to be rather thin on the ground – in fact I only know of one: Charles Bailey of 9/King’s Own. I first gave Charlie a mention last year, but am happy to mention him again in case you missed the fascinating website in which he features: Charlie Bailey’s War – The story of WW1 soldier Charles Bailey a Welsh miner of West Indian origin plus some of the men he served with.
My thanks go to Australian author Bojan Pajic for sharing a link with us to a fascinating article on the Australian War Memorial website about Australians and New Zealanders who served on the Serbian Front.
My thanks go to Simon and Christine Briggs for sharing with us these photos from the collection of John Staple of the Army Service Corps Remount Service.
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.
Members should have received this latest edition of The New Mosquito by now. Please contact the Society if you are expecting a copy, but haven’t received it.
Members should have received this latest edition of The New Mosquito by now. Please contact the Society if you are expecting a copy, but haven’t received it. New editor, Ian Cochrane, is to be congratulated on his first issue which has a fresh new look, whilst maintaining the excellent quality of articles that members have come to expect.
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.
In this final instalment of extracts from William Pearce’s diary of the campaign in Macedonia, we have a timely reminder that men were still serving overseas, even though the guns had fallen silent. My thanks to Mark Pearce, William’s great-grandson, for making this diary available.