By Jilly Cooper

ISBN-10: 0552990914

ISBN-13: 9780552990912

Jilly Cooper has written a tribute to the position of animals in wartime. From the pigeons wearing very important messages to and from the beleaguered urban in the course of the Seige of Paris to canine sniffing out mines for the British invasion strength in international conflict II. A brilliant list of man's inhumanity to animals, and an fantastic tale of braveness.

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C. Mercer of G. Troop RHA commented acidly in his journal of the Waterloo campaign, that the only way to make the men pay some attention to their horses was to make them walk and carry their kit should their horses fall sick or die. Waterloo had its own share of terrible casualties. In twelve successive charges, the French light cavalry under Marshal Ney crashed against the immovable squares of Wellington’s redcoats. Each charge was hampered by dead and dying horses underfoot, and grass made slippery by spilt blood.

These tough Boer ponies in fact could live off the land and keep going for days, while their masters as well as being first class shots, knew the country backwards, and kept well out of the way so the British cavalry had no one to charge. Most important of all, having learnt the lesson of the American Civil War, the Boers dismounted when they reached the enemy, and used their guns. Nor did they need any extra hands to hold their ponies, which were trained to stand still the moment their reins were thrown over their heads.

Others grew crafty, and when they saw their drivers taking cover, would duck their heads, drop on their knees or even lie down. One of the redeeming features of this terrible war was the devotion that grew between the soldier and his horse. M. ’ Brereton goes on to deny that the famous painting by Matania, Goodbye Old Man (p. 54), which shows a soldier kneeling to hold his dying horse’s head, is over-sentimental. Perhaps it was based on an act of heroism which occurred during one of the most desperate attacks along the Aisne.

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Animals in War by Jilly Cooper


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