War heroes too : military mascots of the First World War and their legacy : a thesis presented to Massey University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History
As many historians write about the deeds and sacrifices of soldiers during the recent centenary celebrations of the First World War, it is important to also remember the contributions of soldiers of a different kind. During the First World War a menagerie of animals became honorary soldiers in all armies, including New Zealand and Australia. Whether for the sake of comfort, combat or ceremonial occasions many regiments adopted all types of species from the domestic canine to exotic primates. There has been a recent surge in academic acknowledgment of animals during warfare and their importance in our history. I am especially glad to have explored this topic on mascots which has left many doors open for further historical examination. Animals have always been a vital part of military campaigns, yet the role of the mascot, also known as soldiers’ pets, has often been overlooked in the historiography. I will create a brief hypothesis by exploring issues such as what purpose did mascots both official and unofficial serve? How many Australian and New Zealand units in the First World War had mascots? How were they selected? Finally, what legacy have they left?