The ceremonial opening of the exhibition Animals in the War will take place at 16.00 on February 12, 2015 in M. T. Kalashnikov museum and exhibition complex of small arms. The exhibition is prepared together with the Military-historical museum of artillery, engineer and signal corps, devoted to using of animals in military operations by the human. All history of humanity is series of continuous wars in which since the most ancient times their four-legged companions in arms battled side by side to people.
Almost no battle didn’t take place without horses. The standing cavalry was created firstly in Ancient Greece. The Carthago cavalry possessed high fighting qualities. In the XIII-XIV centuries horses made a basis of army of the Mongolian conquerors. In medieval Europe knightly cavalry got the principal value in fights, in view of lack of strong infantry. Emergence of firearms was significantly reflected in development of a cavalry.
Not only horses, but also camels, mules, donkeys and oxen were used as draft force, for transportation of goods and soldiers.
Elephants became the most terrible animals used in wars since Antiquity and till Modern times. They were similar to “live tanks” which made confusion in the ranks of the unprepared opponent by only one look.
More than six thousand years ago people began to use dogs in military science – for execution of sentry and guard services, and also as fighting animals. Romans used dogs for protection of important state objects, as pathfinders and for search of fugitives. In the VIII-XI centuries in many campaigns of the Scandinavian Vikings, they were accompanied borzois which put to flight the opponent by their ferocity. Ability of dogs to look for people by the smell trace was applied with success, they also regularly played a role of bodyguards of high-ranking people, provided communication between military units, seized also some other specialties.
Command of the majority of armies of the world included in the ranks a significant amount of dogs, having assigned to them tasks of protection of positions and camps of troops, using as carriers of ammunition, signal operators, hospital attendants and on other types of service.
In the Russian army dog were actively involved during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 for detection of the opponent and the timely notification.
During World War II centuries-old experience of use of dogs as transport animals was widely applied on all fronts from White to Black seas. Dog scouts provided reserve of approach of our scouting to a first line of defense of the opponent, helped prospecting and diversionary groups to pass through military dispositions and promoted successful actions of these groups in the back of the enemy. Dogs were widely used also for search of landmine. Dogs – signal operators and dogs – communication agent also made the contribution to the Victory.
There are cases when dogs were awarded by fighting awards, granted by honourable pensions, built monuments.
Since the XVIII century sending correspondence by means of pigeons was widely used in armies of many countries. Importance of “military service” of some birds was appreciated very much: so, an English carrier pigeon No. 888 officially received military rank of colonelcy of the British army for outstanding merits during World War I.
There are data on using also very exotic animals for military operations. There are records on the unprecedented weapon of a classical antiquity – venomous snakes. It is known of use of such, apparently, peace animals, as domestic pigs against fighting elephants by commanders of antiquity.
During the Great Patriotic War there was an idea to use elks as the vehicle which traces didn’t cause suspicions unlike horses which prints of horseshoes were well noticeable in the wood.
In the years of World War II scientists in the USA developed the project of creation of “a mouse bomb”. It was supposed that the bats dumped from planes in the special self-unpacked containers would be carriers of these smallest (17 grams) in the history of aviation bombs.
In the late sixties in the Soviet Union and the USA the first experiments on application of sea animals in the military purposes began.
All these aspects of participation of animals in the military conflicts of different eras found the reflection at the exhibition. Visitors will be able to see stuffed animals and birds in soldier’s ammunition. The dummy of a horse dressed in unique east armor of the XV-XVI centuries from funds of the Military-historical museum of artillery, engineer and signal corps deserves specific mention.
Widely presented painting, graphics, sculptural compositions and rare photos allowed to create an evident picture of hard life of animals in military conditions.
Exhibits of the exhibition are original subjects for equipment of animals and care of them: saddles of various modifications, bridles, bridoons, horsewhips, feed bags for oats, horseshoe (different types), spurs, stirrups, horse groomer, etc.
Among exposition wonders – threre is gas mask for horses, galtrop – means of fight against a cavalry, Elephant goads – hooks for control of elephants.
However participation of animals in military operations is not the main subject of an exhibition. The view of authors of animals and war in a broad sense is interesting. Many animals (their images, and also live individuals) became symbols of this or that regiment. Many of them were urged to draw honourable duty. In military units of Western Europeen and North American armies there was a tradition to get an animal as a regimental mascot. Most often mascots were dogs and horses, but there were among them as well hens, donkeys, badgers, sheep, even eagles and bears.
The whole selection of rank badges with the image of animals was presented at the exhibition.
Staff of the Military-historical museum of artillery, engineer and signal corps will take part in opening of the exhibition Animals in the War.