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Bandoola and Elephant Bill

Elephant during the First World War.
(Photo: Illustrated War News, February 9, 1916)

Elephants have helped armies since ancient times because of their great size, strength and intelligence. During the Second World War, an elephant named Bandoola helped Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Williams in the jungles of Burma. Elephant Bill, as he was nicknamed, oversaw a British Army elephant company, which had up to 700 of these brave beasts.

They pulled up trees that were sent to England where wood was needed; moved heavy logs to build bridges; helped launch ships; and carried people and supplies across rivers, mountains and rough roads. They also tugged heavy army trucks out of deep mud during the rainy season.

In 1944, Williams heard that the enemy was coming to take his last 47 elephants and they had to escape quickly. Bandoola courageously led the other elephants along dangerous paths through the mountains. The journey was long and hard, but together they reached safety.

Ellie the elephant

Did You Know? Tunneler’s Friends

During the First World War, some soldiers spent a lot of time digging tunnels under the front lines for protection from the enemy and to use in attacks. Fresh air was hard to get underground and dangerous gases often built up that could be deadly. The tunnelers sometimes took doves and rats with them—if the animals couldn’t breathe, the men knew they had better get out quickly!

Mighty Warrior and Galloper Jack
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