The Animals’ War: Historical documents

The Animals' War

These historical documents accompany The Animals’ War lesson plans for History KS3.

The following scanned images of the original documents are contained in the zip file below.


1a and 1b) Letter written by Freda, Poppy and Lionel Hewlett to Lord Kitchener (Secretary of State for War) requesting that their horse Betty not be taken for the war. © IWM

1c) Photograph of Freda and Lionel with their horse Betty. © IWM

2) Letter from Mr Greedy, Lord Kitchener’s private secretary, telling the children that their horse Betty would not be taken for the war. © IWM

3a and b) War office note confirming Lord Kitchener’s decision regarding Betty. © IWM

4a and b): Plans from the Imperial War Museum collection showing an experiment conducted on animals at the Royal Engineers Experimental Station in 1917 into the effectiveness of gas on a mock-up of a trench system. Goats, rats and cats were put into two trenches and subjected to a ‘gas attack’. © IWM

5) This famous message from the First Battalion of the U.S. 308th Infantry Regiment, who were cut off and under fire was delivered by Cher Ami (a messenger pigeon) on October 4th, 1918.

Before Cher Ami, two other pigeons were sent who were shot and killed. Cher Ami flew over 25 miles to deliver his message despite having been shot, blinded in one eye, covered in blood, and with a leg hanging only by a tendon. The message was in a capsule on the damaged leg. Shortly after the message arrived, the artillery stopped firing. Medics were able to save Cher Ami‘s life but not his left leg. Cher Ami died the following year on June 13th, 1919 from the injuries he received in battle.

Download scans of the historical documents