30 Vintage Photos Of Badass Animals Fighting In Wars

Published July 21, 2017
Updated October 17, 2017

Throughout history, animals have served in the military in a variety of ways, both on the front lines and behind the scenes.

Rocket Donkey
Gasmask Donkey
Trench Dog
Tank Pigeon
30 Vintage Photos Of Badass Animals Fighting In Wars
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When it comes to gaining the advantage over the enemy, armies must rely on any number of tactics to ultimately win a war. One such tactic that has been a constant in military strategy since ancient times is the use of animals. Going all the way back to Hannibal's elephants and Genghis Khan's archers on horseback, animals have long played a crucial role in warfare and other military operations.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the role of military animals began to greatly expand, with commanders calling upon animals in a number of new ways, including literally using animals as weapons, keeping them around for moral support, and using them to distribute medical supplies.

Dogs, birds, and even rats played a significant role in World War I for both sides. Carrier pigeons were also then trained to deliver messages between battalions and act as spies, however with mixed results.

In the 1930s, with the coming of World War II, the Soviet military began training dogs to drop bombs in front of approaching tanks. When dogs weren't being used as destroyers of heavy machinery, they were also used by both sides for moving supplies and sniffing out both injured soldiers and landmines.

While dogs and pigeons were being utilized on the front lines of war, equally important were the roles that animals played behind the scenes. It wasn't uncommon in this same era for naval ships and military barracks to keep any variety of animals ranging from mice to monkeys as pets. These animals provided men with a sense of comfort and moral support, helping to distract them from the seemingly never-ending horrors of war.

Of course, for every heroic animal that emerged from a war, there were countless other uses of military animals that failed miserably and resulted in death.

From the heroic to the devastating and everything in between, the photos above reveal the fascinating history of military animals over the last 100 years.

Now that you've investigated the wide use of animals in military operations, check out the first animals in space. Then, take a more in-depth look at Sergeant Stubby, World War I's most decorated dog soldier, and see more of the ways that humans have used animals as weapons throughout history.

Joel Stice
Joel Stice holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with more than 10 years of experience in writing and editing, during which time his work has appeared on Heavy, Uproxx, and Buzzworthy.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Stice, Joel. "30 Vintage Photos Of Badass Animals Fighting In Wars." AllThatsInteresting.com, July 21, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/military-animals. Accessed May 23, 2024.