One of the most beloved items in the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s collections belonged not to a serviceperson, but to a canine hero.
Dogs were employed in various roles during the First World War, and almost all nations involved had use for these loyal and selfless animals. They served as mascots to particular units, providing companionship and helping boost morale. There were also practical reasons why they were utilised. Dogs could cover ground on almost any terrain and were dependable message carriers, faster than any human runner, and more discreet. They were also used as guards and sentries and also for scouting missions, as their keen sense of smell could allow them to signal possible enemy approaches and hideouts much more accurately than their human counterparts. Some were pack dogs, who pulled guns along on carts and carried machine guns and ammunition. Dogs also played a huge part in search and rescue, and this is what Caesar would be trained for.
Caesar was the bulldog mascot of ‘A’ company, 4th Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.
The dogs had harnesses which were equipped with medical supplies like bandages, water and also writing materials. If a soldier was lightly injured, he could use the bandages to patch himself up and the dog would guide him back to the trenches and if unable to move but conscious, he could write of anything that that might hamper the rescuers, such as enemies nearby or unexploded shells. Caesar was also trained to take a piece of a soldiers kit if he was unconscious, to bring back to show the rescue party, such as a cap or piece of torn clothing as evidence.
Caesar was a true hero in war, helping his human soldiers. You can read the entire article here Caesar the Anzac Dog.
Article siting: Prasad, Mini. Caesar the Anzac dog. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 29 November 2016. Updated: 5 December 2016.
Dogs were not the only animals involved in the war. Here is a photo of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles.