World War II Weapons: Animals--Individual Species

World War II animals
Figure 1.-- Here we see an unidentified using two dogs to pull a cart with hay. All we know is that the photogrphed was dated 1945. The boy and dogs may be from the Baltics. Many pets and even working dogs did not survive the War as aresult of the terrible food shortages the Germans set in motion. With programs like the Hunger Plan in place, there was little ability of feeding pets, even treasured animals, in German occupied countries.

A range of animals were used by the various beligerant powers during World War II. The principal animal used in warfare had for millenia been the horse. Horse calvalry had been proven obsolete in World War I. Even so there were calvalry units utilized to a minor extent. More importantly, horses were used as draft animals. Britain and the United States were the only two countries entering the War with fully mechanized armies. Dogs were also important during the War. The United States did use mules, but only when operating in rugged teraine where mechanized vehicles coukd not operate. The Germans based on their World War I experiences trained an incredible 0.2 million dogs for the military. The fact that the Germans occupied many countries, meant they were operating in unfriendly bid not necesarily hostile territorty. The dogs proved useful in security duties. This included the vast system of labor and concentration camps established throughout NAZI-occupied Europe. The dog forces of other countries were much smaller. The United States did not begin to train a Canine (K-9) Corps until after Pearl Harbor (December 1941). This began with the civilian Dogs for Defence Inc. training nine dogs. Eventuially the U.S. military trained more than 10,000 dogs. As in World War I, the dogs were used for sentry duty as well as scouts and messengers. They also proved useful in finding mines and booby traps. They were deployed domesticlly, especially with Coast Guard coast waters. They were also deployed in both the European and Pacific theaters. Other animals were used. Carrier pigeons were used, although because of the developmednt of radio, were much less important than in World War I. The United States experiment with bats to use in an aerial weapon.

Horses and Mules

The principal animal used in warfare had for millenia been the horse as well as mules and donkeys. Horses revolutionized ancient war. And pack animals enabled ancient armies to invade other countries. Horse calvalry had been proven obsolete in World War I. Even so there were calvalry units utilized to a minor extent during World war II, mostly by the Soviets on the Eastern Front.. More importantly, horses were used as draft animals. This was a major part of the logistic train for the Germans and Soiviets early un the War. German industry did not have the capability of fully mechanizing the Wehrmacht. Vehicles were requisitioned throughout German-occupied Europe. This became a real problem for the Germans as few German horses survived the first Russian winter. Britain and the United States were the only two countries entering the War with fully mechanized armies. The lumbering Red Army suffered at the hands of the more mobile Whermacht. This begn to change when American trucks laden with supplies begn reaching the Red Army in numbers (1943). The United States did use mules, but only when operating in rugged teraine where mechanized vehicles could not operate.

Dogs

Dogs were also important during the War. They were used by several countries and in many different roles. The Germans based on their World War I experiences trained an incredible 0.2 million dogs for the military. No country even approached this effort. The fact that the Germans occupied many countries, meant they were operating in unfriendly countries and often hostile territorty. And one of the major German problems was manpower shortages. The dogs proved useful in security duties. This included the vast system of labor and concentration camps established throughout NAZI-occupied Europe. Here the use of dogs was tragic. One more part of the horror of NAZI terror. The dog forces of other countries were much smaller. The United States did not begin to train a Canine (K-9) Corps until after Pearl Harbor (December 1941). This began with the civilian Dogs for Defence Inc. training nine dogs. Eventuually the U.S. military trained more than 10,000 dogs--a small fraction of the dogs trained by the Germans. As in World War I, the dogs were used for sentry duty as well as scouts and messengers. They also proved useful in finding mines and booby traps. They were deployed domesticlly, especially with Coast Guard coast waters. They were also deployed in both the European and Pacific theaters. The largest usage in combat roles was probably by the Americans in the Pacific. The Soviets trained dogs to destroy tanks. Dog also provided soldiers a degree of companionship, important given the extended period away from hme and family. This seemed particularly imprtant for the Allies, although we note the Germand with pet dogs as well. Perhaps the most fmous dog of the war was Pierre, a German sheperd rescued by a Czech aviator flying with the British. Many pets and even working dogs did not survive the War as aresult of the terrible food shortages the Germans set in motion. With programs like the Hunger Plan in place, there was little ability of feeding pets, even treasured animals, in German occupied countries. The Allied strategic bombing campaign also killed many German pets as hey were not allowed in the bomb shelters. Also many of the dogs used for security purposes had toi be destroyed.

Carrier Pigeons

Other animals were used. Carrier pigeons were used, although because of the developmednt of radio, were much less important than in World War I. A reader writes, "Pigeon were effectively used and played a much more important role in World War II than your article suggests. When radios failed carrier pigeon post successfully reached operations in time to stop actions which would have had friendly fire casualties. The carrier pigeon GI Joe is an example of this. His flight was the fastest the pigeon had ever flown. This pigeon recieved the Dicken's medal for this outstanding flight while under fire. The message recieved resulted in the planned bombing mission being called off." HBC did not mean to suggest tht pigeons were not used, only that they were less extensively used than in Wrld War I when radio Wirless) were very new and walkie-talkies did not yet exist.

Bats

The United States experiment with bats to use in an aerial weapon aginst Jpanese wood and paper cities. The weapon wa not used.







CIH







Navigate the CIH World War II Pages:
[Return to Main World War II animal page]
[Return to Main World War II land weapons page]
[Return to Main World War II technology/tactics page]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Biographies] [Campaigns] [Children] [Countries] [Deciding factors] [Diplomacy] [Geo-political crisis] [Economics] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[POWs] [Resistance] [Race] [Refugees] [Technology] [Totalitarian powers]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Return to Main war essay page]
[Return to CIH Home page]





Created: 3:51 AM 6/2/2013
Last updated: 5:37 PM 6/30/2014