Sergeant Bill, a Tough Old Goat!

Goat

Sergeant Bill in uniform with soldier friend.
(Photo: Broadview Museum)

A goat named Bill was pulling a cart in a small town in Saskatchewan when a train, carrying soldiers on their way to fight in the First World War, stopped. The girl who owned Bill let the soldiers take him along as a good luck charm. Mascots were not supposed to go to the front lines, but the soldiers had become very attached to the goat so they hid him in a big crate and took him with them.

Sergeant Bill, as the goat was called, was a big help. He saw action beside his human friends in many battles, including one where he pushed three soldiers into a trench just seconds before a shell exploded where they had been standing.

Despite being wounded several times, Sergeant Bill survived the war. Once the fighting was over, he was even part of a big parade in Germany, proudly wearing a fancy blue coat with his sergeant stripes. He then returned to his hometown where he was reunited with his owner.

Pest Brigade

mouse holding piece of cheese

Not all animals are helpful. During the First World War, more than 90% of the soldiers in the trenches had lice. The pesky little insects made the men itch badly and they could spread a disease called trench fever.

Mice and rats were also a big problem in the trenches and on warships, too. They chewed on supplies and equipment, ate the food, and spread diseases.

Canadian soldiers who have served in far-off lands, like Korea, Somalia and Afghanistan, had other pests to worry about, as well. They had to keep their eyes open for dangerous spiders, scorpions and snakes that could sneak into their tents, sleeping bags and empty boots.

Forgotten Heroes
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