So many men, mules and horses have died throughout the centuries in war - on all sides; we remember and pay tribute to all those lost souls. In the Great War (1914-1918) where over 8 million horses, mules and donkeys fought alongside their humans, only 60,000 returned; 16 million soldiers and civilians died. In World War II 60 million people died worldwide, that is the population of the UK, gone. Another 8 million mules, donkeys and horses lost their lives fighting in places like Burma, Germany and Russia.
Never a harder working, tougher creature has there been than the Army Transport Mule. Calm under fire, stoic, loyal and sensible following his human where he was bid. It is well known that the most precious cargo would be trusted to the mules in a transport column, mules would not lose their precious cargo under fire, if a shell exploded nearby pray that your munition was on a mule not a horse for then you may see it again.
Mules and horses toiled in freezing cold and boiling heat, through jungles and up mountain passes. They endured mud as deep as rivers and wind as cutting as a blade. Those army mules, horses and men endured more than we can imagine. They endured together, they lived together, they died together. Many times the camaraderie between human and equine was all that there was to fall back on and the love and loyalty of a mule or a horse would have meant the difference between life and death, despair and hope. May we never forget.
Much has been written of equines in war. Sadly not much is noted about our mule friends. FH found this poem about mules in the Great War, we are sure that the writer had some fondness for our long eared friends; somehow you can't help but admire those mules!
Photographs from NLS archives and Blue Cross.