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Animal mascots in wartime – lifting soldiers’ spirits

New Zealanders love their pets and wartime was no different. www.NZHistory.net.nz tells the stories of animal mascots who served their soldiers with loyalty and affection.

The menagerie at http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/mascots includes dogs, cats, donkeys, monkeys, pigs, goats and birds – over 30 mascots from Pelorus Jack to Pooch.

Our best-known Second World War mascot was Major Major, No. 1 New Zealand Dog of the 19 (Infantry) Battalion. He travelled and worked with his unit throughout Egypt, Libya and Syria and was promoted to the rank of major in 1942. www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/military-mascot-major-major

Sergeant Noodles, a white Samoyed, was a valued member of 21 Battalion: www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/noodles-the-mascot. Noodles was an 'example to the untidy, for he was always correctly dressed in a red and khaki cover, on the side of which was attached his three stripes of rank. He wore his NZEF badge on his collar and was never known to give one away to a lady friend.'

In 1916 Caesar the bulldog, a trained Red Cross dog, helped stretcher-bearers find wounded soldiers in no-man's land at night during the Battle of the Somme. He was a member of the A Coy, 4 Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade. www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/caesar-the-anzac-dog

A slow lauris, a small nocturnal mammal, was an unusual choice of mascot by B Company, 1RNZIR Reserve platoon at Nanga Mepi in Sarawak, Borneo in 1965 www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/slowlauris-mascot.

A media gallery of images at www.nzhistory.net.nz/media_gallery/tid/1802 gives an insight into a softer side of warfare. Members of the public are invited to contribute their stories, photos and memories of military mascots to the web feature.

News media can use images at the Media Centre image page

Please quote www.NZHistory.net.nz as the source for this information.


Updated on 23rd July 2015