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jainvince

Mules

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A local soldier wrote to his uncle "I am in the transport section of the batallion, in the large and important position of driver of a team of mules...... I wish they were horses .... as mules get so stubborn and are such vile tempered creatures .... terribly hard-mouthed .... you have to keep a fairly tight rein..... We have two in the wagon side by side , the left hand one with a saddle on and drive the two from the saddle. I find it rather harder than driving with long reins from the wagon but I am used to rough riding - both bare-backed and saddled".

However, another soldier wrote home "Yesterday morning we were trying some of the mules in the cable wagon and we did not sufficient drivers so our officer said 'Come on, Widdup, I want you to try your hand at driving a pair of mules'.... I enjoyed it vey much - they are quite comfortable to ride, more so than a horse. We have got our full complement of drivers now ..."

I suppose no two mules or soldiers were the same.

Bernard

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From the handbook of Animal Management 1908 produced by the Veterinary Department for the War Office:

The Mule......"He is capable of great endurance, tolerates thirst well, can put up with changes of climate and food, and is not fastidious regarding the latter. The shape of his back makes it easy to fit him with a saddle, while the toughness of his hide helps to preserve it from galls. Mules are usually cheerful, intelligent animals, appreciate proper handling, and resent violence. They are particularly free kickers, often shy with strangers, and touchy about the head and ears; but with attendants that understand them, they are by no means troublesome, and easy to look after and keep in condition."

....resent violence. They are particularly free kickers...

An interesting combination!

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....resent violence. They are particularly free kickers...

An interesting combination!

So, it's only "incoming" violence they actually resent!

I have a copy of GHQ (Montreuil-sur-Mer) by "GSO" (Major Frank Fox). The previous owner has annotated the chapter on animals with some pretty caustic comments about mules. I think Rudyard Kipling's stories make similar points. Stroppy, would be the word I would use.

The book does confirm the various points made about mules' endurance, though strangely enough, they seem to have been more choosy than horses as to the quality of their drinking water.

Ron

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The manual explains this. Briefly, they have a sort of "neophobia" about drinking from anywhere or anything unfamiliar.

They will, apparently, sometimes not drink from an unfamiliar trough, stream or other source but will take the same water from a familiar bucket or bowl.

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Thanks squirrel - that would explain it!

I suppose the British Army had more experience than most in using and looking after different types of animal. Mules mainly from experience in India, camels from Egypt in the 1880s, draught cattle from the South African War - and perhaps donkeys from weekend leaves at Bridlington!

Ron

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And they are all covered in the manual - together with all that is needed for care, management, feeding, tack and a host of other things.

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Remembering Today - 9th September 2011

Remembered Today; Muleteer Y PARASKEVA, 123rd Coy. Royal Army Service Corps, Macedonian Mule Corps who died on 9th September 1919, Chanak Consular Cemetery

Interestingly the Mules formed there own Corps !

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Remembering Today - 9th September 2011

Remembered Today; Muleteer Y PARASKEVA, 123rd Coy. Royal Army Service Corps, Macedonian Mule Corps who died on 9th September 1919, Chanak Consular Cemetery

Interestingly the Mules formed there own Corps !

Four members of that corps were executed for murder on 31 October 1919. I wonder if this man was one of their victims?

Ron

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Michaeldr has written a very interesting piece about PARASKEVA here

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they are quite comfortable to ride, more so than a horse.

Bernard

That must have been a great bonus! We had a horse called Timothy in The Blues and if one was unfortunate enough to be allocated him for a sovereign's escort, one's backside came into contact with the saddle about every third lamp post.:P

Harry

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Interesting comments. I'll post more that crop up provided the censor allowed.

Bernard

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For more Mule yarns I would recommend "On Two Fronts: Being the Adventures of an Indian Mule Corps in France and Gallipoli" by Heber Maitland Alexander....along with the Zion Mule Corps they are some of the unsung heroes of the War.

Regards MG

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Not just mules... I recall an anecdote about a WW1 battery horse called Syphilis because no one ever wanted to catch it! I met, many years ago, the RCT subaltern who had commanded the last mule troop in the British Army, it was based in Hong kong, and he was devoted to his charges

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I commend to you the book:

The Military Mule in the British Army & Indian Army - An Anthology

by Brian Nicholls, Philip Malins MBE MC and Charles Macfetridge

ISBN 1-905265-87-5

see also The British Mule Society at: http://www.britishmulesociety.org.uk/

Harry

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According to a Confederate account of the siege of Vicksburg they make much better eating than horses.

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For excellent details of operational units that were totally dependant on mules, download:

http://www.archive.org/details/IndianMountainArtillery

There are one or two good photographs also.

Harry

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Not just mules... I recall an anecdote about a WW1 battery horse called Syphilis because no one ever wanted to catch it! I met, many years ago, the RCT subaltern who had commanded the last mule troop in the British Army, it was based in Hong kong, and he was devoted to his charges

Many years ago (early 1970s I think) my father was on the regular Armoured Corps team who had to go out and do occasional maintenance of the few mothballed tanks left in HK. In between this cushy number the team was coerced into providing free labour to help in a MACC task (Military Aid to the Civil Community) on Lantau Island (HK) assisted by this very RCT Mule Troop. They were carrying building materials up the mountain to build a basketball pitch for a remote community. On the way up the mules went haywire, tipped their loads (shovels, picks, cement bags etc) and scattered materiel all over the mountainside and no amount of coaxing would entice them back. One mule in particular defeated all attempts to drag it back into line......until the Chinese Senior NCO Muleteer (who was a wide as he was tall) arrived on the scene. He went up to the main culprit mule and punched it square between the eyes. He then calmly led the dazed and now docile mule by the ear back up the hill and had no further problems. .... I suspect the WWI muleteers had many similar experiences. MG

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A chap of the ASC Remounts that I researched recently had his wrist broken when a member of the Macedonian Mule Corps stepped backward on his arm.

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Having read Martin Gs post ref HK it rings true to the USMC Mule Course I completed a few years ago in prep for Afghan the USMC instructors sometimes had to be rather "firm" with the Mules or they took the mick!

The British Army Mule harness kit we used after that had probably not changed much since WW1.

Good fun trying to catch a mule carrying a load of ammo and weaponry that has a mind of its own!!

Ady

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Manual of pack transportation: Quartermaster Corps (1917)

Author: Daly, Henry W; United States. Army. Quartermaster Corps

Subject: Transportation, Military; Mules; Pack transportation

Publisher: Washington D.C., Government Printing Office

Free download here:

http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924032644522

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Here's quite a touching description about a driver burying his mule after an artillery shell killed it. The author was the CO of the 43rd Battalion, AIF. My grandfather supported this battalion as a Brigade signaller. Sorrry about the embedded image - I didn't have time to type the words.

post-66620-0-62712400-1315997344.jpg

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A friend who owns a mule says they are cautious about new situations and will take time to decide whether it is safe to go on, unlike a well-trained horse which go just about anywhere if properly handled.

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Of the personality of mules and horses much could be written. Of mules, Brownie takes us back to Tweezledown days. On the night before the 42nd moved, our stable picquet reported the loss of a mule. Orders were issued that something had to be found, with the result that Brownie came to us. Originally he was issued to the 42nd, but none ever regretted the transfer, for he was, without doubt, the best all-round mule that we ever had. He stuck it like a hero right to Tourcoing. Here he was classified CZ, and went to Linselles to be sold, so now he is probably working' down on the farm.

Of quite a different type were those with which J. Simpson was burdened. One was named Johnny, who, apart from being very ugly, had a great dislike to anyone approaching his head, except with a nose-bag. Simpson used to pass most unchristian like remarks about him, as also about Jaegar, his other mount. Jaegar must have joined up when he was about twenty years old. His sunken eyes, his crocky knees, and loss of teeth made a doleful sight.

With the forty-fourths - Being a record of the doings of the 44th. FIELD AMBULANCE

http://noelharty.net/with_the_fortyfourths.htm

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According to a Confederate account of the siege of Vicksburg they make much better eating than horses.

Likewise......

"When the 86th were relieved in the early hours of the 11th (October 1917), Brigadier-General Cheape sent his staff-captain back with orders to provide, by hook or by crook, some sort of hot meal for the men at Elverdinghe, which was their entraining place. Sure enough a savoury and appetizing stew awaited the whole brigade. Sundry guardsmen joined in the feast, for there was enough to spare, which took place at a spot called Crocodile Pontoon. Months afterwards, when Cheape and his staff-captain, Captain Robert Gee VC, were recalling the incidents of the action, the brigadier suddenly asked how in the world Gee got his hands on such a lavish supply of fresh meat. He then was informed that the stew was composed of the choicest parts of mules, a whole team of which had been killed hard by by shell fire. He and his servant had cut up the meat for the stew from them."

from 'The Story of the 29th Division – A record of Gallant Deeds' by Capt. Stair Gillon, 1925, republished by the N&M Press

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