Elephants have long helped armies. Bandoola pulled trees out of the ground, moved heavy logs to build bridges, and carried people and supplies across rivers, mountains, and along rough roads. During WWII, Bandoola assisted Jim Williams, the officer in charge of the British Army’s No. 1 Elephant Company in Burma. Williams worked with up to 700 elephants, each one helping the army. Sometimes the elephants pulled up trees that were sent to England where wood was needed. They also tugged heavy army trucks out of deep mud in the rainy season.
Elephants are very smart animals, and Bandoola was no exception. Loyal to his trainer, he did his job even when the weather was bad, and even when they were under attack.
In 1944, Williams heard that the enemy was coming to take his last 47 elephants and they had to escape very quickly. Bandoola bravely led the others along dangerous paths through the mountains. The journey was long and hard, but Williams and the elephants ended up safely on the other side of the mountains.
Meet Vimy, shown in this photo with its mother and a Canadian soldier.
Life for Canadian soldiers during WWI was tough. They often had to march for hours carrying a rifle, ammunition, a heavy sack, a gas mask, shovels and more. They were strong young men but needed help to get supplies to the front lines; tonnes of ammunition and rations had to be hauled each day. Hard working pack horses helped with this task.
50,000 horses were shipped from Canada overseas to carry supplies and pull artillery guns. Sometimes, baby animals were born on the battlefield. One little horse was born on Vimy Ridge, and soldiers named the cute foal Vimy. For Canadian soldiers, many of whom grew up on farms, looking after Vimy would have been a welcome break from the harsh life of the trenches.