Lest we forget: The animals who stood by our men and women.

Video by MWN

While April 25 is a day of national remembrance for Australians and New Zealanders who served and gave their lives in times of conflict, peacekeeping operations and war, there’s a lesser known story we don’t always tell on ANZAC Day.

That of the service animals who stood alongside our men and women – many of whom never made it home.

More than 16 million animals served during the First World War, including cats, dogs, horses, birds, camels and mules. They were mascots, provided comfort, carried messages, transported wounded soldiers to safety, and were instrumental in moving large quantities of ammunition, food and water, and medical supplies.

Images from the Australian War Memorial immortalise the loyalty and sacrifice of these animals. These are just a tiny glimpse into the way they supported their battalions.

Sandy was the only horse to return home from Gallipoli in 1918. Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges, who stands beside him, was shot by a Turkish sniper at Gallipoli, and ultimately died from his injuries. Image via the Australian War Memorial.
The mascot of the HMAS Encounter, sitting in the muzzle of a gun. Image via the Australian War Memorial.
A German message dog captured near Villers-Bretonneux in 1918. He was originally named 'Roff', but the Australians changed his name to 'Digger'. Image via the Australian War Memorial.
'Jack' or 'Jackie' the rooster was the unit mascot. He attacked any stranger who entered the unit lines. Image via the Australian War Memorial.
A corporal holding a koala in 1915. Image via the Australian War Memorial.
A cat sitting on sandbags in Gallipoli, 1915, looking expectedly at a soldier. Image via the Australian War Memorial.

Why women will be marching up the front this Anzac Day. Post continues after audio.

Corporal James Coull with three messenger dogs in 1918. Their names were Nell, Trick, and Buller. Image via the Australian War Memorial.
Colonel Granville Ryrie on his horse Plain Bill in 1918. Image via the Australian War Memorial.

Animals continued to play a crucial role for the Australian Army long after the First World War.

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Labradors with their handlers in Vietnam in 1967. Image via the Australian War Memorial.
Private D.W. Jones of the 2/33 battalion in 1941 with a donkey. Image via the Australian War Memorial.
An unknown American soldier with his pet kangaroo in 1942. Image via the Australian War Memorial.

Today, let's remember that service comes in many different forms.

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