ANIMALS IN WAR ~ STORIES OF COURAGE: BANDOOLA AND VIMY

  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...
ANIMALS IN WAR ~ STORIES OF COURAGE: SERGEANT BILL, GANDER, AND BONFIRE

ANIMALS IN WAR ~ STORIES OF COURAGE: SERGEANT BILL, GANDER, AND BONFIRE

  A goat named Bill was pulling a cart in a small town in Saskatchewan, when a train carrying soldiers on their way to fight in WWI stopped.  The girl who owned Bill let the soldiers take him along as a good luck charm.  Mascots were not supposed to go to the front lines, but the soldiers had become very attached to Bill, so they hid him in a big crate and took him with them. Sergeant Bill, as the goat was called, was a big help.  He saw action beside his human friends in many battles, including one where he pushed three soldiers into a trench just seconds before a shell exploded where they’d been standing. Despite being wounded several times, Sergeant Bill survived the war.  Once the fighting was over, he was even part of a large parade in Germany; he proudly word a fancy blue coat with his sergeant stripes!  Bill eventually returned to his hometown where he was reunited with his owner.   This is Gander, a mascot that was also seen as a fellow soldier with jobs to perform. Gander was a Newfoundland dog raised by the Hayden family on the airport base in Gander, Newfoundland.  A friendly dog, Gander loved playing with the children; he pulled them on their sleds and they watched him drool - a lot!  He enjoyed living on the base; however, he spent too much time on the runways, trying to catch the planes as they came in to land! One day, because he was growing to be so large, the family decided to give the playful dog to...
ANIMALS IN WAR ~ STORIES OF COURAGE: STARBUCK, BEACHCOMBER, AND SIMON

ANIMALS IN WAR ~ STORIES OF COURAGE: STARBUCK, BEACHCOMBER, AND SIMON

Animals have long helped people in times of war, conflict, and peace.  A stone arch in the Peace Tower honours these special workers and supporters; The work by artist, John. A. Pearson, represents the animals that served during the war: reindeer, pack mules, carrier pigeons, horses, dogs, canaries and mice. The inscription reads: THE TUNNELLERS’ FRIENDS, THE HUMBLE BEASTS THAT SERVED AND DIED.   Animals served in wars in a variety of roles such as transporting supplies, delivering messages, helping the wounded or just being a soldier’s companion.  In fact, thousands of animals contributed in times of war. Pigeons were used during the First and Second World Wars to deliver messages when radio or telephone communication wasn’t possible.  They flew for many kilometres and in all kinds of weather.  The sky was sometimes filled with gun fire.  Some of them didn’t complete their journeys and others were wounded.  It was dangerous but the birds were loyal and faithful. One such ‘feathered friend’ was Beachcomber, who served with the Canadian army win WWII as a carrier pigeon.  This was an important job as the soldiers in the field, sailors on their ships, and pilots in airplanes needed the ability to communicate and send messages about their progress, to request supplies, or to call for help.  The messages were written on small pieces of paper, put inside a small container and attached to one of Beachcomber’s legs.  (photo VAC)       In August, 1942, Beachcomber brought the first news of the landing at Dieppe, under hazardous conditions;  for this he was awarded the Dickin Medal on March 6, 1944.       Horses...

NOAH TREMBLAY ~ THE FORCE BEHIND A SPECIAL MONUMENT

    This is Noah Tremblay, shown in the photo during the dedication of a new memorial.  Noah was the driving force behind the creation of a special monument dedicated to the animals that helped people in times of war, conflict and peace. The idea began with the project he did for a school heritage fair.  Soon it became his mission to raise enough money to build a monument.  He collected donations, sold beeswax lip balm, and sold raffle tickets. Noah also designed the memorial that was erected in 2012; it’s made of granite and is dedicated “in memory of all animals and handlers who served in our military and police forces.”  The names of the animals and their handlers are also inscribed on it.  The Memorial to Forgotten Heroes is located in Veterans Memorial Park, Bass River, Nova Scotia. Noah’s work prompted me to share some of the stories of courageous animals who served during times of war.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading the next series of posts. Credit for all information to Veterans Affairs...
NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY ~ CELEBRATING WOMEN IN AVIATION

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY ~ CELEBRATING WOMEN IN AVIATION

Wednesday, March 8th is International Women’s Day, a wonderful opportunity to honour women in aviation!  We have a collection of books in our Museum’s Library that focus on women; I’d like to share some of them with you.   A History of Women in the Canadian Military ~ The author, Barbara Dundas, wrote this story of women in Canada’s armed forces.  Then Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, celebrated the book, “I am sure that anyone who is interested in the ever-evolving role of women will deeply appreciate this book that chronicles an important part of their full and equal inclusion in our society and our national institutions.” The author begins the story in 1885 during the North-West Rebellion, a time when Canadian women first answered the country’s call to military service.  Though the Minister of Militia and Defence was confident of success, he knew that there would be casualties.  And so he ordered a medical contingent to accompany the expedition.  From the beginning, the Medical Director-General for the operation recognized the need for women nurses.  In addition to their medical duties, the nurses who participated in the North-West campaign were expected to establish recreation areas, make bandages, and distribute blankets, clothing, and other supplies sent by various women’s groups and charities across the country.  Military operations were successfully concluded within a month; the services of the nurses were no longer required.  Five nurses, along with the rest of the medical staff, accompanied the wounded to Winnipeg where their patients received additional medical attention. Throughout the immediate post World War II period that nurses saw the most widespread service....
NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ BLACK HISTORY MONTH ~ PROFILES OF COURAGE ~ POST-WAR YEARS

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ BLACK HISTORY MONTH ~ PROFILES OF COURAGE ~ POST-WAR YEARS

Two Profiles of Courage of note for this time period include:   Ainsworth Dyer ~ Ainsworth Dyer was born in Montreal and grew up in Toronto.  He enlisted in the Canadian Forces in 1996 and would go on to become a member of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Mature and responsible, Dyer was well-respected by his colleagues.  He took on many challenges including training for the military’s gruelling “Mountain Man” endurance competition, qualifying as a paratrooper and serving in Canadian Forces peace support efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2000. Corporal Dyer was taking part in night training in Afghanistan on April 17, 2002 when his position was bomber by an American warplane in a friendly fire incident at Tarnak Farms.  Sadly, he and three other Canadians were killed and eight more were injured.  Dyer was just 24 years old. The fallen soldier was buried with full military honours in the Necropolis Cemetery in Toronto.  The Royal Canadian Legion named his mother, Mrs. Agatha Dyer, the 2004 National Silver Cross Mother.     Mark Graham ~ Born in Jamaica, Mark Graham moved to Hamilton, Ontario as a child.  In 2004, he answered the call to serve and enlisted in the Canadian Forces.  Private Graham was sent to Afghanistan with the Royal Canadian Regiment.  He was an excellent role model for the younger soldiers and had an excellent record of efficiency in his unit.  Tragically, the then 33 year old was killed by friendly fire on September 4, 2006, when his platoon was mistakenly attacked by an American warplane during an operation to capture a Taliban stronghold. Graham is buried at the National...

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