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Chapter XV



Transportation of Animals

During World War II, the animals of the Army were transported in a number of ways: By road marching, in railroad cars, on transports (ships), by motor vehicles, and in airplanes. The first two means were used extensively in the movement of animals overland prior to World War I. In connection with the transportation by motor vehicle, records of World War I point to the common existence of veterinary ambulances, but many years passed before motorized portée was tried in maneuvers as a means of tactical deployment of mounted units. The transportation of an animal on an airplane was given headline news in veterinary publications during the late twenties (1), but it was not until World War II that this was used under the conditions of a tactical deployment.

The transportation of animals, regardless of the means, proved a veritable hardship on animals. However, with proper care and management, animals were moved or transported-covering great distances and involving long periods of travel time-without seriously lessening their physical condition or without too great a loss from disease and injury. A certain loss of animals was normally expected, but the experiences of World War II indicated that such losses can be minimal, such as 2.6 percent losses of animals when road marched in the tropical jungle areas of southeastern Asia, 0.25 percent in railroad shipments in the Zone of Interior, less than 0.3 percent in long­distance overwater movements, and almost no losses when animals were transported by airplane. An aggregate 60,000 horses and mules-U.S. and Allied-were involved in these movements. Whatever the means of movement, the successes in World War II involved the practice of certain veterinary principles. These included the examination of animals for physical condition prior to embarkation, the technical supervision over those methods and facilities which had a bearing on animal health, and the duty assignment of personnel to accompany the animals while en route.


The principles of veterinary service concerned with the overwater movement of animals in World War II were developed during World War I. The practice of these principles was the assigned responsibility separately of the port veterinarian, the veterinarian of the animal embarkation depot, and the transport veterinarian. Of course, the port veterinarian was recognized as the central coordinating officer. Their responsibilities were described in AR (Army Regulations) 40-2055, 4 March 1922, and AR 40-2060, 4 March 1922 . The two peacetime regulations were rewritten into the superseding 


AP 40-2055, 29 September 1942, but no changes were made on the assigned functions of the Army Veterinary Service.

During World War II, animal shipments originated from four ports of embarkation in the Zone of Interior (Los Angeles, Calif., New Orleans, La., New York, N.Y., and San Francisco, Calif.) and from a dozen or more points in two oversea theaters (the South and the Southwest Pacific Areas). The animal embarkations at New York included 2,227 mules which were procured by the Indian Army Supply Mission1 under the U.S. lend-lease program of supply to the United Kingdom (2, 3). With the exception of the shipments from ports in Australia (Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, and Townsville) of 2,525 horses to New Caledonia during 1942 and of 2,336 horses to the China-Burma-India theater, the veterinary services at all embarkation ports were somewhat alike. The situation in Australia was occasioned by shortages in the numbers of Veterinary Corps officers (1942) and by the imposition of civilian export and quarantine procedures on demands of the Australian Government.2 Altogether, port loadings under the technical supervision of the Army Veterinary Service totaled 15,000 horses and mules, this number including the aforementioned lend-lease mules which were shipped to India.

Port veterinary service ordinarily began with the inspection of the animal transports and the technical supervision over their cleaning and other preparations for each voyage. The transport inspection, also conducted after the loading of the animals but just before the ship's departure, was made on a variety of details which had a bearing on animal health and management as follows: The ship's capacity and stall accommodations; loading and unloading facilities; feeding, watering, lighting, and ventilating systems; sanitary and waste disposal facilities; quantity and quality of the feed and water supplies; equipment and ship's fittings; and facilities equipment to care for sick and wounded animals. The veterinary space requirements were expressed as 5 percent of the number of stalls on shipboard; these stalls were conveniently located near the hatchways. Timely reports of veterinary transport inspections were rendered to the port commanders for such corrective action as was indicated. Generally, such reports were favorable; of course, certain deviations from the most desirable facilities and systems were tolerated in view of the fact that none of the American animal transports in use during the war was constructed for such use; at least 18 of them (with a carrying capacity for 6,600 horses and mules) were converted vessels.3

1Actually, the shipments were made from the stockyards, Jersey City, N.J., originally with the technical assistance of the port veterinarian, New York Port of Embarkation, but later the Army Veterinary Service, Second Service Command, assisted in the embarkation of these mules.  
2The difference between the 15,000 animals loaded under the supervision of the Army Veterinary Service at ports and the total number of horses and mules embarked was occasioned by the fact that approximately 5,000 animals did not come under the supervision of the Army Veterinary Service until after they had been loaded on animal transports.
3Between the two wars, the U.S. Army Transports Dix, Meigs, Kenowis, and Ludington were used in the transportation of animals; however, they were not used as such during World War II.  


FIGURE 50.-The S.S. Virginian, converted animal transport used in World War II.

As a matter of fact, many of these conversions-made by the War Shipping Administration and involving for the most part the Liberty EC-2-type ship-were based on plans which were reviewed by port veterinarians. A larger proportion of the converted transports had stall capacities of 320; a few could carry more than this number of animals, the S.S. Virginian having the greatest carrying capacity (679 stalls) (fig. 50).

Another prerequisite to overwater shipping was the selection and preparation of the animals. These actions usually were begun at the quartermaster remount depot which shipped the horses and mules to the port or to the latter's animal embarkation depot. By regulatory authorization, no disabled, unserviceable, or unsound animals were moved into a transport, and such animals, if not withdrawn previously, were rejected on the recommendations of the port veterinarian during the actual loading operations. The preparations included the shoeing of the animals (usually on the front feet only), the clipping of the hair coat, and special feeding and watering in the 2 or 3 days preceding embarkation. The individual record cards of the animals were reviewed as to the status of the prophylactic immunizations against equine encephalomyelitis, in the Zone of Interior only, and against tetanus, and of the mallein test for glanders (within the preceding 21 days). During the latter part of the war, on request of the Army Veterinary Service in the China­Burma-India theater, animals scheduled for oversea movement were routinely  


vaccinated against anthrax. Because a greater part of this selection and preparation was accomplished in the quartermaster remount depots during World War II, no large port embarkation depots came into existence-at least, none which were comparable to those established at Newport News, Va., and Charleston, S.C., in World War I (4). However, two animal embarkation depot facilities were established and operated by the Army Veterinary Service: The Animal Depot, Puente, Calif., of the Los Angeles Port of Embarkation (5) and the Animal Remount Station, Camp Plauche, La., of the New Orleans Port of Embarkation (6). Animals for the San Francisco port were held at the Presidio of San Francisco, Calif., under the control of the Ninth Service Command (7). In the oversea theaters, movements were usually made directly to the transports from the field remount depots. The lessening dependence on animal embarkation depots during World War II was conditioned by the fact that no unexpected withdrawals or shortages of ships were experienced which necessitated the holding of large numbers of animals for a long period of time and that no newly purchased, or "green" (unconditioned) animals, which were highly susceptible to the shipping fever complex, were sent to the ports.

The port veterinarian also exercised a technical supervision over the veterinary service on the animal transports. This service included the development of standing operational procedures which were used on shipboard; the selection, training, and assignment of veterinary transport personnel; and the provision of veterinary equipment and supplies. In World War II, these personnel on the transports included specially qualified personnel of the port veterinarian's office or the veterinary units and animal service detachments which were en route to an oversea theater. The temporary detail of so-called casual personnel to accompany the overwater movements of animals was avoided.

Once en route, the transport veterinarian was responsible for the sanitary discipline in that part of the ship occupied by the animals, and he technically supervised the care and management of the animals, including their feeding, watering, exercising, and treatment. In these activities, the transport veterinarian was provided a detachment of enlisted personnel including a staff sergeant and a private (or private first class) for each hundred animals on shipboard, and an additional noncommissioned officer for each four privates. The detachments established a routine as soon as the transport departed from the port, and this routine was continued throughout the voyage. There were a variety of details to attend to, such as the covering of floors to improve foothold, removal of manure and flushing of decks, adjustment of the ventilating system, use of chloride of lime saturated cloths to counteract the ammoniacal urine odors, special and reduced feeding, and the care and treatment of sick and injured animals.

The actual losses of horses and mules on board animal transports which were accompanied by the Army Veterinary Service during World War II were less than 0.3 percent of the 20,815 animals involved; that is, only 60 animals  


died or were destroyed on account of disease and injury (table 43). An additional 1,152 animals were lost in the sinking of three transports-the S.S. Jose Navarro, the S.S. Peter Silvester, and the USAT Tjinegara. Records and reports are not available to complete a study on specific diseases and injuries which were encountered on all voyages of the animal transports. At least 18 shipments were completed without any losses; in others, more difficulties were encountered. For example, of the 77 cases reported on the shipment of 648 mules and 6 horses on the S.S. Mexican en route for 58 days from the New Orleans Port of Embarkation to Calcutta, India, during the fall of 1944, there were 57 cases (3 terminating in death) of heat exhaustion, 19 cases (1 ending fatally) of gastrointestinal disturbances, and 1 nonfatal case of tetanus. Then, in a 28-day shipment of 640 former Australian Army animals to Calcutta, India, on the S.S. Virginian, the U.S. transport veterinarian reported

TABLE 43.-Movements and losses of horses and mules on animal transports accompanied by the U.S. Army Veterinary Service1 

Destination of transport

Number of shipments

Number of animals


Veterinary losses

Lost by enemy section

From Zone of Interior to:





Central Pacific





South Pacific

1 and a partial




Southwest Pacific











20 and a partial




From South Pacific to:






5 and a partial




From Southwest Pacific to:










South Pacific





From Panama Canal to:





South Pacific

A partial




Zone of Interior





From European to:





Zone of Interior















1Involves only the intertheater overwater movement of both the U.S. and Allied military animals. The total 20,815 animals, which were embarked, included 5,420 horses and 15,395 mules; losses on account of disease and injury (that is, veterinary losses) totaled 38 for horses and 22 for mules.  
2Includes 5 shipments, totaling 2,227 mules, which were procured by the India Supply Mission under the U.S. lend­lease program of supply to the United Kingdom.
3Includes 6 shipments and 2 partial shipments, totaling 2,336 horses, which had been procured originally (by purchase and reverse lend-lease) and then transferred from the U.S. Army to the Australian Army which then transshipped them from Australia to the U.S. Army in the China-Burma-India theater.
4Excludes 9 shipments, totaling 2,048 horses, which were procured in Australia and shipped on an Australian transport accompanied by Australian personnel to the U.S. Army on New Caledonia.


53 cases of disease and injury, including 9 cases of strangles and 24 contused and lacerated wounds; in addition, 1 mare foaled.

In a report on 438 cases for the 4-year period, 1942-45, of the diseases and injuries of Army horses and mules on animal transports, the animal strength involved in the appearance of these cases is unknown, but the case mortality rate was more than 5 percent. These 438 cases of disease and injury, by species of animal, included 116 horses, of which number 16 cases were terminated by the death or destruction of the animal, and 322 mules, including 7 fatal cases. No one disease or injury constituted an entity that could not be expected among animals which were closely confined for long periods of time (up to 65 days) in an environment of extreme heat (up to 110° F.) and humidity. The more common ailments were heat exhaustion, gastrointestinal disturbances, abnormal conditions of the feet and legs due to long-continued standing on wet floors (urine and salt water), and many kinds of injuries caused by biting, equipment, or slipping. The shipping fever complex was not observed among animals on transports loading out of the Zone of Interior, and no serious animal disease was reported.

On arrival at destination, the transport veterinarian's responsibilities terminated with the debarkation of the animals. Routinely, the debarkation procedures were jointly observed by him and by the veterinary officer of the receiving port or other oversea command. Quite frequently, civil quarantine officials observed the debarkations to satisfy themselves that the Army was not "landing" a disease. However, there was no report of such introduction of new diseases into any area where the Army Veterinary Service alone technically supervised the overwater movements from and including the port of embarkation to the point of destination. The unloadings were made in a variety of ways as follows: By ramps, by flying box stall, by sling, by rope nets, in the Mediterranean theater (fig. 51) (8), or by transfer to intermediary barges or boats which operated between the ship and shore in the South Pacific Area.

Another method of unloading from transports was by swimming the animals to shore. However, due to the hazards of such an undertaking, this was seldom considered except in training for amphibious assaults. It was tried during the joint Army-Navy maneuvers in the Hawaiian Islands during the early thirties (9), and again in the Central Pacific Area during World War II, in connection with a plan, later discontinued, that called for landing pack mule troops during an amphibious assault on a Japanese enemy-held shore (fig. 52). A combat landing procedure that was used successfully by the 36th Infantry Division in the Mediterranean theater, at Anzio, Italy, 20 May 1944, involved the loading of animals into trucks, these trucks then moving into and out of LST's (landing ship, tank) (8).

The overwater transportation of animals was described in the terms of intertheater movements. However, intratheater movements, including the combat amphibious methods of unloading, were conducted under much the same degree of technical supervision by the Army Veterinary Service. Ob-  


FIGURE 51.-Loading mules by rope net at Naples, Italy, September 1944.

viously, because of the shorter travel periods and distances covered, the intratheater movements were made ordinarily without animal losses or without evoking problems of foreign quarantine. In the Central Pacific Area, a few animals were moved from Oahu to Hawaii and Kauai, and livestock were moved to establish "living-food reserves" or animal farms on Canton and Christmas Islands. In the South Pacific Area, the Veterinary Detachment, 97th Field Artillery Pack Battalion, assisted in the movement of the battalion's 753 mules and 194 horses from New Caledonia to Guadalcanal-this being made in three shipments leaving on 16 January, 4 March, and 6 April 1943 (10, 11). After V-J Day, in the China theater, the Army Veterinary Service cooperated with the Navy in the modification of LST's (each with a carrying capacity for 220 but not exceeding 285 animals) and in the movement of several thousand Chinese military animals along the China coastline (12, 13). An even greater activity in the movements of animals occurred within the North African and Mediterranean theater. Aside from the aforementioned movement of the U.S. 36th Infantry Division's pack train from Salerno to Anzio, thousands of Allied military horses and mules, and sheep for feeding British and French colonial troops, were unloaded under the technical supervision of the Army Veterinary Service in the port at Naples,


FIGURE 52.-Training for amphibious landing.

Italy (14). In the period from February through April 1944, ship arrivals numbered 23, and 1,261 horses, 5,760 mules, 310 sheep, and a few cattle and dogs were disembarked (15). The U.S. 8th Port, replacing the U.S. 6th Port at Naples, in mid-1944 processed 31 animal transports during the last 6 months of that year; 13,650 animals were embarked, and 10,118 animals were disembarked (14,16).


The transportation of horses and mules by railroad-"at best * * * a wrecking ordeal" (17)-was accomplished in World War II with a minimal  


amount of animal losses. In a series of all veterinary reports covering 135 shipments during 1945 in the Zone of Interior, 9,500 Army horses and mules were moved by railroad4 with the loss of only 5 animals (or 0.05 percent) (18). In another series of reports, covering the entire war period, on 48 shipments5 that were selected because each involved more than 200 animals or a travel period of more than 3 days and were accompanied by a Veterinary Corps officer, the losses numbered 64 horses and mules or 0.25 percent of the 25,072 animals which were involved (18). In this series of 48 railroad shipments, 39 were completed without a loss, and 1 shipment alone accounted for 51 animal losses. These successes reflected the efficacy of animal care and management in rail transport.

The later successes in the transportation of animals by railroad evolved about the application of the same principles of animal care and management that were perfected on the overwater movements; namely, the preshipment examinations of animals, technical supervision over the transportation methods and facilities, and the duty assignment of personnel to accompany shipments in transit.

In rail transport, the health of the animals was given primary consideration. Thus, veterinary technical supervision over such transportation began at the point of origin of the shipment. This included the physical examination of animals prior to shipment and certification as to their health, the inspection of the transport methods and facilities, the assignment and training of veterinary personnel who accompanied the shipment to destination, and the review of the train schedule and routing. By the regulations of the Army, a minimal 48-hour period was given to the Veterinary Corps officer at the point of origin. The professional examination of the animals was made to withdraw those which were sick or infected with a serious contagion (such as glanders), and as a prelude to the rendition of the veterinary health certificate. This certificate was normally accepted by the railroads and by the various State or other disease regulatory agencies as proof that precautions had been taken within the Army to minimize or prevent the dissemination of animal diseases. Of course, the Army Veterinary Service inspected the railroad cars as to their suitability, state of repair, and sanitary condition before the loading operations were started. The railroad was responsible for the cars being kept in good condition, cleaned and disinfected, and bedded with a floor cov­

4The average shipment approximated 70 animals, but 14 shipments comprised more than a hundred animals (including two of 700 animals each, and others with 696, 588, 468, and 440 animals). The smaller shipments were unaccompanied by veterinary personnel.
5The salient features of the 48 shipments were averaged as comprising a 90-hour shipment of 522 animals. The largest shipment included 1,258 horses departing on 14 June 1942, from Fort Riley, Kansas. Two 8-day shipments included one departing on 9 February 1944, from Fort Robinson, Nebr., for Los Angeles, Calif., and another departing on 25 December 1944, from Fort Reno, Okla., for Jersey City, N.J. A long-distance movement involved the 99th Field Artillery Pack Battalion, departing on 22 July 1942, from Fort Bragg, N.C., for Camp Carson, Colo. This series included the shipment of those mules, accompanied by Veterinary Corps officers, that were procured by the Indian Supply Mission under the U.S. lend-lease program of supply to the United Kingdom.


FIGURE 53.-Unloading of horses by Troop B, 252d Quartermaster Remount Squadron, Camp Polk, La., for Third U.S. Army maneuvers in the fall of 1942.

ering of sand or straw; on request, the carrier covered the cars with paper or other material to protect the animals in transit from exposure to cold.

The loading of the railroad cars was conducted in an orderly manner. Whenever obtainable and justified, Arms-Yager horse cars were used;6 however, most shipments were made in open (or slatted) stock cars of the kind which were used in the normal civilian traffic of livestock (fig. 53). Usually, 22 riding-type horses or pack-type mules were loaded onto a 36-foot stock car, and 25 animals onto a 40-foot stock car. These car loadings were reduced in hot weather and where heavier weight animals were loaded. The interchange of car sizes in a train led to difficulties in the "spotting" of the car doors at unloading ramps of certain rest stations and terminals (19). The train length (or number of cars) was regulated by the capacity of the feeding, watering, and rest stations and the unloading facilities along the route of travel and, before World War II, was expressly limited to 30 cars per train. However, during the war, the train length was not limited, but a proportionally greater number of injuries was observed in animals of the longer trains when routed through mountainous areas (20).

6The Arms-Yager Palace Horse Car was equipped with 18 stalls, feed mangers, and water tanks; the Arms-Yager Commercial Horse Car was divided into three large compartments without stalls.


Following the departure of the train from the point of origin, the accompanying veterinary personnel became responsible to the train commander for the conduct of the professional and supervisory veterinary service to the animals in transit. In the movement of mounted units to maneuver areas or ports of embarkation, this service was rendered by the relevant veterinary detachments; sometimes, movements from the remount depots were accompanied by separate veterinary detachments which proceeded with such horses and mules to their final oversea destination. In the instance of shipments of casual animals, the assignment of these personnel was the responsibility of the point­of-origin veterinarian; however, after August 1943, the Quartermaster General's Office required that casual shipments of a hundred or more animals originating from the remount depots would be accompanied by a Veterinary Corps officer, and by a veterinary enlisted man7 when the shipments comprised a lesser number of animals (21). Their principal activities were centered at the feeding, watering, and resting stations, or stockpens, along the route of travel. In this connection, it must be remembered that the routing and schedule for the shipments were developed at the point of origin, with special consideration of the adequacies of the railroad stockpens along the route as enabled a stopover at intervals of 20 hours of train travel but not exceeding 28 hours. Such scheduling was mandatory by the so-called 28-hour law. From the records which were available, violations of this law were exceptional during World War II. In fact, no violations were reported in 1941; in 1942, only one8 was reported (22). At the stopover points, preparatory to the unloading, the accompanying Veterinary Corps officers conducted a sanitary inspection of the pens, chutes, yards, feed racks and mangers, and water troughs, and examined the feed and water supplies (figs. 54 and 55). The carrier was normally responsible for the cleanliness and disinfection of these facilities and for providing the necessary feed and water.9 Whenever possible, prior arrangements were made with the Bureau of Animal Industry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, to supervise this cleaning and disinfecting by the railroads, but where that agency's inspectors were unavailable, the Army Veterinary Service alone was responsible for obtaining corrective action, if indicated, by the railroad before the animals were detrained. As the war progressed, the standards of stockpen cleaning and disinfection were lowered when the general manager of a railroad indicated the carrier's inability to meet the military requirements because the facilities along the route were actually owned by private companies which could not or would not clean and disinfect (23, 24). In a recommendation to the Chief of Transportation, and approved by him, the Veteri­

7Before August 1943, it seems to have been a policy or practice to detail a veterinary enlisted man to accompany shipments of officers' private mounts and Army remount stallions.  
8This involved the shipment of animals from the Fort Robinson, Nebr., remount depot to the San Francisco, Calif., port, during December 1942. The train was sidetracked by higher priority traffic; what was a normal 27-hour trip became one lasting 40 hours.  
9The railroad carrier provided all feed and forage to the animals while en route, except in cases of less-than-carload shipments and in the movement of mounted units with their own animals.


FIGURE 54.-Unloading stock cars at Puente, Calif.

nary Division, Surgeon General's Office, on 17 August 1943, suggested that in these cases the railroad need only maintain the stopovers in a "satisfactory state of sanitation."

1n a summary of the specific causes of animal losses encountered in the transportation of animals by railroad during World War II, the statistical data are limited necessarily to 9 of the aforementioned 48 shipments, wherein 64 animals died or were destroyed, and to an additional 3 shipments which were unaccompanied by Veterinary Corps officers. The losses among these 12 shipments totaled 96 animals-including 9 found dead in the railroad cars, 6 left at or dying in stopover stations, and 81 dying after arrival at destination. Of the total losses, 86 were attributed to exhaustion from overexposure and equine influenza; 4 to gastroenteric disturbances; and 1 each for pneumonia, hemorrhagic septicemia, suffocation, wound, fracture of cervical vertebrae, and unknown causes. Actually, the greater proportion of these losses was encountered in but 3 of these 12 shipments; 15 were lost in a shipment of 540  


FIGURE 55.-Mule being processed for oversea shipment. During their stay at the animal depot, the horses and mules were exercised daily and were processed for oversea shipment, including clipping of hair coats, mallein testing for glanders, and checking of the condition of their teeth.

horses, 16 were lost in a shipment of 551 horses, and 51 were lost in a shipment of 370 mules.10

The transportation of horses and mules by railroad in the oversea theaters was all entirely different matter. In World War II, this method of transporting animals was used in the India-Burma and the China theaters and in Australia where newly procured horses were shipped into the remount depot at Townsville. The latter rail shipments were made frequently with little regard for the proper handling of these horses in transit-thus contributing to the unusually high rates of incidence and animal losses from equine influenza that were experienced in the remount depot during the early part of 1943 (25, 26). The situation in India was without comparison-after 8 to 10 days' continuous travel, the animals could not be reconditioned within 30 days (27, 28). In India, dependent upon the railroad gage, 6 to 10 animals were loaded on a single freight car or so-called animal wagon. Within each car, the animals were placed in both ends and faced toward the car's center where they

10The two horse shipments were made from the Fort Robinson, Nebr., remount depot to Camp Lockett, Calif., in the early spring of 1943; the mule shipment was made from the same depot to Jersey City, N.J., in the winter of 1944-45. Veterinary Corps investigations of the shipments determined that the losses were caused by exhaustion from overexposure or equine influenza as the result of long periods of train travel (6 to 7 days) and exposure to subfreezing weather.


were fed and watered. The interior heat of the cars, which were constructed of steel and without adequate ventilation fixtures, and the irregular and limited availability of water along the route of travel caused the development of gastroenteric disturbances in many animals. In the northeastward movement from Calcutta, India, of those American horses and mules which came from the Zone of Interior and the South Pacific and the Southwest Pacific Areas, the animals were unloaded from the cars only to change to a railroad of another gage track and at certain river crossings. However, to complete their 1,450 mile travel into Burma, the same animals also were herded or trucked. In China, the 19th Veterinary Evacuation Hospital assisted in the technical supervision over the tactical movement by rail of 5,000 Chinese military animals eastward from K'un-ming to Chan-i during the late summer of 1945. (29).


During World War II, a large number of horses and mules were transported by truck in the Zone of Interior and overseas in the Mediterranean and the China-Burma-India theaters. Regulatory controls, such as those which governed the transportation of animals by ship and railroad, were not placed over this shipping. However, where this shipping was accomplished with proper regard for the health of the animals, no serious difficulties were experienced. In the Zone of Interior, for example, veterinary reports covering 87 separate shipments during 1945 indicated that 724 horses and mules were trucked from purchase points, remount depots, and Army camps without any animal losses (18). In the Mediterranean theater, animals of the provisional pack trains and U. S.-supervised Italian pack mule companies were moved successfully in the Fifth U.S. Army area on standard trucks which were specially equipped with stock racks. Later, the veterinary evacuation plan for that Army's 10th Mountain Division operated to send replacement animals forward on the same trucks that were used to collect and evacuate animal casualties (30) (figs. 56 and 57).

Truck transport was used also in the India-Burma theater and in China. In the China theater, a special plan was developed to move the animals of the American-sponsored Chinese armies and divisions by a "block" or convoy system (29, 31). Though it was invaluable for moving equipment and supplies, the convoy system proved so disastrous to horses and mules that the Army Veterinary Service recommended discontinuance almost as soon as it was started (in April 1945). No imagination is required to understand that the careless and rapid handling by inexperienced drivers of the trucks in such convoys, which stopped only at scheduled relay points along the way, would cause animal losses. On the curving dirt roads, the trucks turned over, or, on arrival at their destination, some of the animals were dead or in a comatose condition. Such losses approximated 10 percent of the animals in a single shipment by truck convoy.


FIGURE 56.-Fifth U.S. Army truck at an animal ambulance loading point, Costel De Rio, Italy, 30 September 1944, accepting a load of wounded animals for evacuation to a veterinary hospital.


An innovation in the military transportation of horses and mules during World War II was the use of the airplane. In three separate situations, more than 7,000 animals which belonged to the Allied-sponsored Chinese military forces were transported by airplane in the China-Burma-India theater (27, 29, 32, 33). Previously, this means of moving mounted units and animals was seldom studied. In 1932, however, the veterinary officer instructor at the Cavalry School, Fort Riley, Kans., expressed the thought-"it is not unreasonable to assume that in a relatively few years we may expect to witness the practical rapid movement of limited numbers of horses by airplane or dirigible" (34). Many years later, during May 1943, an original actual test on the movement of a mounted unit was conducted on New Guinea (in the Southwest Pacific Area) by the 98th Field Artillery Pack Battalion and the 374th Troop Carrier Group (35) (fig. 58) .

A year and a half later, the Army Veterinary Service in the India-Burma theater assisted in the planning for an "over the Himalayan Hump" movement  


FIGURE 57.-Fifth U.S. Army truck at Scarperia, Italy, in September 1944, loaded with mules for transport into the frontlines, showing side stock racks of the truck and methods of tying the halter ropes.

of animals which belonged to the U.S.-trained Chinese New Sixth Army.11 This Allied Force, then in Burma, was urgently needed in the operations that led to the clearing of portions of the China side of the Burma Road which had been held by the Japanese enemy. The U.S. 7th Veterinary Company (Separate) and a detachment of the 19th Veterinary Evacuation Hospital supervised the original shipments and actually loaded the airplanes at the Shamaw and Nansin fields in Burma (fig. 59). In two series of shipments completed by February 1945, the animals which had been airlifted into China totaled 2,213 horses and mules. The same group of animals, then numbering 2,154, were airlifted during April and May 1945 within China, from Chan-i to Chih-chiang, in the operations to stem the Japanese advances on the bases of the Fourteenth Air Force. In the third airlift, or the second one over the Himalayan Hump, 2,751 animals of the Chinese 38th and 50th Divisions (of the Chinese New First Army) and a regiment were moved during July and

11The Allied British military forces originally used the airplane to transport animals in a tactical situation. In the spring of 1944, an airlift of 1,350 animals was made during Wingate's second expedition in Central Burma.


FIGURE 58.-Experimental trials on the feasibility of airlifting a field artillery pack battalion, New Guinea, May 1943.

August 1945 from Burma into Nan-ning, China. Losses incident to these airlifts numbered two animals; one was fatally injured during loading and the other was destroyed en route when it endangered the safety of the airplane and its crew.

The type of airplane used in these operations was the Douglas C-47, each carrying four to six animals together with attendants, equipment, and a 5-day forage supply, but not exceeding 6,500 pounds per load. The floor of the airplane was covered with plywood sheets, over which was placed a waterproof paulin and a matting of straw. The animals were loaded two at a time and faced forward; as the loading progressed each two animals were fitted into a temporary stall, complete with front, rear, and top crossbars, made by tying or wiring bamboo poles together (fig. 60). An 18-inch space was allowed in the front of each pair of animals to provide headroom and space for the attendants. Loading was accomplished in 10 to 20 minutes and was made directly over the tailgates of trucks which were backed to the door of the airplane or by ramp. Prior to loading, the animals were newly shod, mallein tested for glanders, and their blood samples were examined for trypanosomiasis and piroplasmosis. Those animals which were unserviceable, sick or injured, or nervous in temperament were withdrawn from shipment. Once airborne, the


FIGURE 59.-Loading animals from truck to airplane at the Sahmaw, Burma, airstrip in February 1945 for "over-the-Hump" movement to Chan-i, China.

animals became quiet, dozed at altitudes of 14,000 to 20,000 feet, were unmindful of rough travel, and pushed forward instead of bracing themselves to the rear when the airplane lost altitude.


The road march was one of the several methods used to move animals from one place to another. One of the most notable experiences of the Army Veterinary Service during World War II was had by the group of Veterinary Corps officers who accompanied the march of 5,397 horses and mules over the famous Burma Road and Stilwell Road from Central and North Burma into K'un-ming, China (29, 36). These animals belonged to the Chinese 22d and 30th Divisions, an animal transport regiment, and two engineer regiments, sand to the following U.S. units: The Artillery Detachment of the 5332d MARS Brigade (including the 612th and 613th Field Artillery Pack Battalions) and the 31st, 33d, 35th, 37th, 252d, and 253d Quartermaster Pack Troops. The units were accompanied by their veterinary detachments and separate veterinary animal service detachments or by casual personnel totaling 15 Veteri-  


FIGURE 60-U.S. Army airplanes were rigged with temporary, bamboo stall-like partitions in moving Allied-sponsored Chinese mounted units from Burma over the Himalayan Hump into China, 1944.

nary Corps officers, who with the Chinese mounted units comprised the only members of the U.S. liaison teams that accompanied them during this march. The departures from Burma of the march column-made up of about 20 serials (or groups of animals)-started on 2 May 1945, with the Chinese 30th Division out of Lashio and continued until 4 July 1945, when the Chinese Animal Transport Regiment cleared Myitkyina; animals began to arrive in K'un-ming after 22 June 1945. At one time, more than 80 percent of these animals were actually on the road.

Preliminary planning covered the survey of the animal feed and forage resources along the routes of march and in areas of planned deployment of the animals, the increase in the Chinese Army's animal ration to subsist the larger American mule and Australian horse, the reduction in the number of animals which carried pack loads to 50 to 75 percent of unit animal strength, the establishment of a rate of march at 15 to 20 miles per day, and the location  


of overnight bivouacs along the road, including feed depots, first aid stations, and 1-day campsites for feeding, resting, and, if needed, reshoeing after every 3 days of travel (29, 37, 38). Much of the planning necessarily was made by the Army Veterinary Service against the original beliefs that the animals, each with a pay load of 250 pounds, should be marched at the rate of 25 miles per day until the destination had been reached.  Preparatory to their moving out, the animals were examined for infectious disease, were newly shod, and grouped into serials of 200 to 300 animals each. Screening for unserviceability removed an estimated 10 percent of the animals from the units before they started the march. Whenever possible, animals showing a temporary disability were relieved of their pack loads or were moved by truck transport to the next bivouacs; others becoming actually sick or wounded were evacuated to a veterinary unit which accompanied the march or to one located at a terminus of the route (39, 40, 41). Such units included the 2d Platoon, 7th Separate Veterinary Company; the Veterinary Company E, 13th Mountain Medical Battalion; the 18th and 19th Veterinary Evacuation Hospitals; and the U.S. veterinary liaison group with the Chinese 2d Army at Pao-shan. Animals which were evacuated numbered 178 in the Chinese 30th Division (with 1,679 animals) and 98 from the U.S. field artillery and quartermaster pack units (with approximately 2,300 mules and horses). Many of these were returned to their units during the march, but others were transported by truck for the remainder of the distance.

The march of the 5,397 mules and horses in the moist, tropical heat of the jungles and mountains in southeast Asia proved as much a hardship on animals as it did on man. The American mule seemed to fare much better than the Australian horses and local tonga ponies which were in the same march column. Disabilities along the way included, for the greater part, exhaustion, contact abrasions and wounds due to pack saddle equipment, and lameness and foot troubles due to improper shoeing. Of course, there were a number of losses caused by landslides, falling off cliffs, drowning at river crossings, and theft. From the information which was available, the losses totaled 142 animals (or 2.6 percent) dying or destroyed on account of disease, as follows:


Cause of loss

Number of animals

Infectious and parasitic diseases:


Anthrax suspect




General diseases: Laminitis


Diseases of the nervous system:




Spasms (diaphragm)


Diseases of the circulatory system: Lymphangitis


Diseases of the respiratory system:


Pneumonia, lobar


Pulmonary emphysema


Diseases of the digestive system:






Impaction and torsion




Diseases of the skin and cellular tissues: Fistula 


Diseases of the bones and organs of locomotion:


Separations of frog and sole




Injuries (violent and accidental causes):






Exhaustion (and emaciation)


Fracture of bone










This excluded the loss of an additional hundred or more animals after mid­August 1945 as the latter elements of the march column (composed of the U.S. field artillery and quartermaster pack units) approached their destination. In these animals, surra was uncovered, and an intense program of test and eradication against the disease was undertaken.


1. Move Horses by Airplane. Army Vet. Bull. 22: 206-207, November 1928.

2. Hershberger, F. C.: World War II History of the Army Veterinary Service, New York Port of Embarkation. [Official record.]

3. World War II Historical Report of the Army Veterinary Service, Second Service Command, Army Service Forces. [Official record.]

4. The Medical Department of the U.S. Army in the World War. The Surgeon General's Office. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1923, vol. I.

5. Kunnecke, R. P.: World War II History of the Army Veterinary Service, Los Angeles Port of Embarkation. [Official record.]

6. Smith, Edwin J., and Crawford, Andy W.: History of the Veterinary Service at the New Orleans Port of Embarkation, New Orleans, Louisiana. [Official record.]

7. Rife, C. J.: World War II History of the Army Veterinary Service, San Francisco Port of Embarkation. [Official record.]

8. Annual Report, Army Veterinary Service in the Mediterranean Theater, 1943.

9. Nye, E. L.: Veterinary Service With Grand Joint Army and Navy Maneuvers in Hawaii. Army Vet. Bull. 27: 32-41, January 1938.

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11. Reports of Sick and Wounded Animals, 97th Field Artillery Battalion, January and April 1943.

12. Personal letter, Lt. Col. E. W. Young, VC, Surgeon's Office, China Service Command, to Col. J. A. McCallam, VC, Veterinary Division, SGO, 9 May 1945.


13. Veterinary History of the China Theater, 1946. [Official record.]

14. Annual Report, Army Veterinary Service in the Mediterranean Theater, 1944.

15. Letters, Lt. Col. W. H. Shannon, VC, Port Surgeon's Office, 6th Port, to SGO, 1 March, 1 April, and May 1944, subject: Report of Animal Transports.

16. Letters, Maj. J. W. Upchurch, VC, Port Surgeon's Office, 8th Port, to SGO, 1 Dec. 1944 and 5 Jan. 1945, subject: Report of Animal Transports.

17. Merillat, L. A., and Campbell, D. M.: Veterinary Military History of the United States. Chicago: Veterinary Magazine Corporation, 1935.

18. Miller, E. B.: A Compilation of Veterinary Health Certificates and Memorandums. July 1950.

19. Letter, 1st Lt. R. L. Griffith, VC, 76th Field Artillery Battalion, to SGO, 1 Aug. 1942, subject: Report of Veterinarian Accompanying Shipment of Army Horses (AR 40-2035, par. 35).

20. Letter, 1st Lt. W. L. Pinckard, VC, Veterinary Station Hospital, Fort Riley, Kans., to SGO, 4 July 1942, subject: Report of Veterinary Officer Accompanying Shipment of Public Animals.

21. Letter, Col. E. M. Daniels, QMC, Office of the Quartermaster General, to commanding officers, quartermaster remount depots, 24 Aug. 1943, subject: Veterinary Personnel To Accompany Shipments of Animals.

22. Letter, Headquarters, Western Defense Command and Fourth U.S. Army, Presidio of San Francisco, Calif., to Chief, Transportation Corps, 9 Jan. 1943, subject: Transportation of Animals.

23. Letter, W. G. Templeton, General Manager, Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Ry., Nashville, Tenn.,to SGO, 23 Mar. 1943.

24. 3d indorsement, Lt. Col. R. S. Mackellar, VC, Veterinary Division, SGO, to Office of Chief of Transportation, 14 Oct. 1943; in reply to 2d indorsement, General Manager, Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Ry., 17 Aug. 1943.

25. Memorandum staff paper, Lt. Col. C. M. Cowherd, VC, Chief Surgeon's Office, U.S. Army Forces in Australia, to Chief Quartermaster, U.S. Army Forces in Australia, 24 Feb. 1945, subject: Animals, Rail Shipment of.

26. Weisman, Louis G.: History of the Veterinary Service in the Southwest Pacific Area, 1942-45. [Official record.]

27. Mohri, Ralph W.: History of the United States Army Veterinary Service in the China-Burma-India Theater, World War II. [Official record.]

28. Woodward, H. C.: Animal Transport Training in India. Cavalry Jour. 54: 23-25, July 1945.

29. The Veterinary History of the China Theater, 1945. [Official record.]

30. Monthly Sanitary Report, Surgeon's Office, 10th Mountain Division, April 1945. 

31. Memorandum, Lt. Col. L. C. Tekse, VC, 19th Veterinary Evacuation Hospital, to Commanding Officer, Chan-i Area Command, U.S. Armed Forces, China Theater, 14 Apr. 1945, subject: Report on Condition of Animals.

32. Mohri, R. W.: Flying Animals Over the Burma "Hump." Cavalry Jour. 54: 42-45, September-October 1945.

33. La Veve, A.: Pegasus. Cavalry Jour. 54:48-49, November-December 1946.

34. Caldwell, G. L.: Animal Management-Transportation of Animals. Army Vet. Bull. 28:46-70, January 1934.

35. Smock, Stanley C., and Baker, Jack E.: History of the Veterinary Service in Southwest Pacific Area, 1942-45. [Official record.]

36. Rand, J. A.: Mules for China. Quartermaster Review 25: 25-26 and 91, January­February 1946.

37. Letter, Lt. Col. W. E. Jennings, VC, Headquarters, Chinese Combat Command, USFCT, to Commanding General, Chinese Combat Command, 18 July 1945, subject: Inspection of Animals From Burma to China.  


38. Letter, Lt. Col. W. E. Jennings, VC, Headquarters, Chinese Combat Command, USFCT, to Commanding General, Chinese Combat Command, 25 Aug. 1945, subject: Movement of 30th Division (Chinese) Animals From Burma to China.

39. Letter, lst Lt. C. H. Burnham, VC, 612th Field Artillery Battalion, Chinese Training Command, USFCT, to Veterinarian, Chinese Combat Command, 13 Sept. 1945, subject: Animal Movement From India-Burma to China Theater.

40. Letter, Capt. W. R. Fetzer, VC, 613th Field Artillery Battalion, Chinese Training Command, USFCT, to Veterinarian, Chinese Combat Command, 13 Sept. 1945, subject: Animal Movement From India-Burma to China Theater.

41. Letter, Capt. C. L. Nowlin, VC, Headquarters, Quartermaster Pack Troops, Chinese Combat Command, USFCT, to Veterinarian, Chinese Combat Command, 21 Sept. 1945, subject: Report of Movement of Quartermaster Pack Troops From Myitkyina, Burma, to Siakwan, China.