Sunday 5 June 2016

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

Looking for inspiration for this week's post , I was reminded that animals also went to war and during WW1 over 16 million animals were involved in the war effort. Some for communication, others for transport and many just for the comfort of companionship.

I found this excellent article on the Imperial War Museum Website which illustrates just how special animals were to those on active service.

And to be honest, I had never thought about the role of animals in WW1, of course, I knew that horses featured very heavily, but then I discovered that dogs and cats were used to hunt rats in the trenches. And of course, there were the carrier pigeons who were so vital to communication and who could get messages back from the front line to headquarters very effectively. 

There is no doubt that animals had a very special psychological effect on those who faced extreme horror and there are stories of communication dogs being treated as pets and given extra rations when they spent time in the trenches. 

This poem could be about one of those special dogs...

The Turkish Trench Dog 


Geoffrey Dearmer


Night held me as I crawled and scrambled near

The Turkish lines. Above, the mocking stars

Silvered the curving parapet, and clear

Cloud-latticed beams o'erflecked the land with bars;

I, crouching, lay between

Tense-listening armies peering through the night,

Twin giants bound by tentacles unseen

Here in dim-shadowed light

I saw him, as a sudden movement turned

His eyes towards me, glowing eyes that burned

A moment ere his snuffling muzzle found

My trail; and then as serpents mesmerise

He chained me with those unrelenting eyes,

That muscle-sliding rhythm, knit and bound

In spare-limbed symmetry, those perfect jaws

And soft-approaching pitter-patter paws. 

Nearer and nearer like a wolf he crept —

That moment had my swift revolver leapt —

But terror seized me, terror born of shame

Brought flooding revelation. For he came

As one who offers comradeship deserved,

An open ally of the human race,

And sniffling at my prostrate form unnerved

He licked my face!

Geoffrey Dearmer served with the London Regiment at Gallipolli and on the Western Front.

His poetry emphasises the starkness and brutality of war.



  1. Yes, interesting about animals, isn't it. When I lived in Kilburn, London, there was a memorial to animals "serving" in both WW1 and 2 in the street that leads down to the Kilburn Park tube station.

    1. I read something about an animal memorial in London but wasn't sure where it was. Thanks for sharing that Susan.


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