It's a war in which there was total mobilization of each of the major belligerents," says ImperialWar Museum historian Terry Charman.
"Everybody was brought in to conduct it, and dogs were part of that."
Through January 6, the Imperial War Museum North is featuring an exhibition, "The Animal's War," recognizing the contributions of military beasts-from message-carrying pigeons to elephants who hauled heavy equipment.
says, were used extensively during World War I. They were on the front lines, dashing across No Man's Land, carrying messages or searching for the wounded.
They hauled machine guns, light artillery, and carts loaded with ammunition, food, medicine, and sometimes wounded soldiers.
Small dogs trotted among the trenches, delivering cigarettes and comfort.
"We have lots of photographs in our collection of
soldiers and sailors with their pets," says Charman
Precise statistics are impossible to come by, but Charman
says that the Allied armies
may have had as many as 50,000 trained war dogs, and there was an equivalent number on the other side.
At the start of the war, Charman
says, Germany had about 6,000 war dogs.
The success of these Airedales on the western front, Charman
says, led to the establishment of Britain's
war-dog program, which ultimately would involve about 12,000 dogs during the war.