Mules in the CBI and their Veterinarians

Merrill’s Marauders

We often comment on the animals who help us, especially in war, BUT the Veterinarians who care for them are very rarely given a voice…

I received a message from Lavinia Ross @ Salmon Brook Farms about her veterinarian, D.E. Larsen, DVM and his mentor, Robert W. Davis, DVM, Please visit to read!

GP, you might like this post by our old veterinarian who retired some years back. One of his mentors in vet school was the same veterinarian who cared for the mules used by Merrill’s Marauders in Burma during WWII.”

Article about Dr, Davis

Dr. David E. Larsen, So. Korea

The most famous American unit of the CBI was the 5307th Composite Unit, also known as “Merrill’s Marauders.” Undertaking operations similar to those of the Chindits, it used large numbers of mules. Six Quartermaster pack troops were part of the unit, and mules were liberally issued to the rest of the unit as well to transport their own equipment and supplies. Each troop had about 300 mules and 75 men.

Dr. Robert Davis, India

During campaigns the mules proved their worth time and again. Don L. Thrapp served with the Marauders and later wrote of his experiences with the pack mules during the fighting at Tonkwa against the Japanese. “They were zeroed in on our bivouac area at a river crossing, and their fire caused us some casualties in men and animals. One tree burst accounted for seven animals. Another shell cut between two mules … and burst about eight feet behind them, but injured neither.”

In the words of a veteran of the China-Burma-India Theater, retired Technical Sergeant Edward Rock Jr., [they] “served without a word of complaint or lack of courage. They transported artillery, ammunition, food, and medicine, and under enemy fire transported the wounded. Many of the CBI veterans are here today because a mule stopped a bullet or a piece of shrapnel meant for the GI. Mules fell in battle, mortally wounded, and we shed tears for them.”

moving through Burma w/ supplies for the 475th Inf.

Pack mules indeed performed yeoman service in Asia and other theaters during World War II, hauling weapons and equipment as well as saving lives by carrying wounded off the front lines. They took the same risks as their human masters and too often they paid the ultimate price.

Wingate, Chindits & mules

A report on April 4, 1944, from one of the units of Merrill’s Marauders described their sacrifice in detail: Japanese artillery fire had killed or wounded most of the unit’s mules. The mules really proved their value in the CBI with both British and American units fighting there. The famous British Brigadier Orde Wingate used large numbers of mules to supply his Chindit Brigade.

Francis & Donald O’Connor in their movie.

After the war, the mules were not forgotten.  A beloved character, “Francis the talking mule.”  became a well-known movie. https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/francis-the-talking-mule/

I hope some of this has encouraged you to check out more….

David E. Larsen, DVM

Please be sure to visit Dr. Larsen’s site,  and Lavinia’s too, she deserves a big Thank You.

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Military Humor –

Farewell Salutes – 

John Bergman – Osbourne, KA; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

No greater love

John Boyko – Lansing, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT boat service

Biacio Casola – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Seaman 1st Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Paul C. Charvet – Grandview, WA; USNR, Vietnam, Comd., A-1H Skyraider pilot, Attack Squadron 215, USS Bon Homme Richard, KIA (Thanh Hoa Prov., N.Vietnam)

Adabelle I. Crum – Lagrange, KY; US Women’s Marine Corps, WWII

Peter “Harmonica Pete” Dupree – Ogdensburg, NY; US Army, WWII, 4th General Hospital

Thomas Eubanks (103) – Springfield, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 tail gunner

Terrance G. Fitzsimmons – NYC, NY; US Army, Korea

Claire Menker – Milford, MA; Civilian, WWII, Firestone Co., gas mask production

Harold J. Smith Jr. – Levittown, NY; US Navy, WWII

Thomas J. Wilson (102) – Petaluma, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 24, 2022, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 195 Comments.

  1. Never thought about it but the mules would have been so valuable to them in so many ways. LIked the cartoon about the physician becoming a veterinarian because of his stubborn patients. I’m one of those stubborn people when it comes to medications.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the mules and I used to have the best vet. for my own animals. I don’t know how I overlooked this valuable job for so long. I thank Lavinia for steering me in the right direction.
      I used to be amazed at the meds my parents took – now – I take even more! Live and learn, eh?

      Like

  2. I once corresponded with an army vet. He left university in 1914 to fight in France, was decorated and then ordered to go back and complete his studies as the army needed vets more than it needed junior officers. He did that, spent two years looking after horses crossing the Atlantic, served in Russia and in WW2 served in India and was responsible for training soldiers to look after mules. Until then I hadn’t realised the huge efforts that went into this. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful and touching! Those mules were such assets and worked tirelessly with no complaints. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a little delayed, but here is some more information about veterinarians in the CBI, with both sides involved. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/46009/Perspectives_2013-Jun-20.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I’d love to know what other animals were used to help fight in wars.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Deze dieren hebben dus heel veel betekend voor de soldaten en men zal ze zeker graag gezien hebben want de oorlog is wreed en sommige soldaten danken dus hun leven aan deze muilezels

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello GP – This has nothing to do with this post. I wanted your opinion on this?
    I was reading about the worst case of death by Salt water crocs. It said this happened on Ramree island late war. According to reports 1000 Japanese entered the swamps to flee from the invading British but only twenty made it out.
    It’s been countered that this could not have happened because this area does not support that many crocs to begin with?
    Are you familiar with this battle and what’s your take on this croc incident?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ramree_Island#:~:text=were%20%22trifling%22.-,Alleged%20crocodile%20attacks,night%20and%20ate%20many%20soldiers.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My Dad was a Veterinarian. But never took up the practice till after the War. Can’t say myself how much mules would have been used in the European Theatre? I do know that horses were used extensively in WW1 and many photos and images depict that. In all, I’m sure they’d all rather have been back on the farm.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Considering how many took bullets meant for the men – I’m sure they would prefer to back on the farm. The ETO started out mostly with horses, but gradually went to mules.

      Like

  9. A beautiful post thank you so much

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 8 Million horses, donkeys and mules were killed in World War I. This number is staggering!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is important for people to know and remember. I loved Francis the Talking Mule!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m always learning something new from your posts. It’s really exciting and expands my knowledge of things that happened around the world..especially the war days. How is the book coming along?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mules are used around here as cattle guardians. Ferocious when predators are near. Fearless and wonderful creatures. However we Missourians are a bit partial 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  14. fun comics, G – and ha don idea the mules saved lives too – I knew they were useful for many things – but that was inspiring to read –

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I enjoyed this post so much! This is so beautiful and grateful 💗💗❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hey, my friend. Thanks for your continued following of my websites, and you continued likes of my articles. I appreciate the things that you post. Please keep up your good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It breaks my heart when I learn about animals killed because of the folly of war. Man’s cruelty to their fellow men is one thing. But killing innocent animals is a whole other level of evil.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Americaoncoffee

    An interesting perspective. No one that I know of has ever mentioned animals during wartime and my colleague not myself, are World War II experts.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Mules in the CBI and their Veterinarians – MR YOUTUBE

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