The red poppy is a symbol of remembrance for the millions of soldiers who served in the First World War and other conflicts. Their bravery and immense efforts are a poignant reason why we are able to live with the freedom we have today, which is why we should be eternally grateful for the service they offered.

However, animals too were a crucial part of the war effort and need to be remembered. The purple poppy is often worn to remember animals that have been casualties of war; over 16 million animals served in the First World War, providing transport, communication and companionship.

Horses, donkeys, mules and camels

  • carried food and water to troops
  • carried ammunition to men at the front
  • carried medical supplies to hurt soldiers
  • carried wounded men to safety



  • carried messages between troops


  • used to detect poisonous gases


  • carried messages between troops
  • delivered medical equipment to injured soldiers on the battlefield
  • trained to hunt rats in the trenches
  • could sniff out danger and warn of trespassers


  • trained to hunt rats in the trenches

As well as being used for work, some animals were kept as pets and mascots to raise morale and provide comfort amidst the hardships of war. These included cats, dogs, foxes, monkeys, bears, and lions.

British military authorities aimed to ensure that handlers cared for their animals properly.

Mud being cleaned from a mule in 1916