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Colourised WWI photos from the trenches

Striking images from the First World War have shed light on the important role played by animals during the conflict – from assisting with heavy-duty work to helping provide light relief to the troops.

Animals were a crucial part of the war effort with horses, donkeys and camels carrying food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men on the front lines, with dogs and pigeons regularly ferrying messages.

Canaries were used to detect poisonous gas and cats and dogs were even trained to rid the trenches of rodents.

In fascinating colourised photographs, one officer of the 444 Siege Battery is seen smoking a pipe while stroking a tiny kitten perched on a 12-inch shell that dwarfs the feline in size.

A team of horses can also be seen dragging a heavy field gun through muddy terrain on the way to the Somme.

A soldier holds on to a tiny puppy – which would have provided some light relief for the troops facing the terrifying and devastating battleground 

One officer of the 444 Siege Battery is seen smoking a pipe while stroking a tiny kitten perched on a 12-inch shell that dwarfs the feline in size 

One officer of the 444 Siege Battery is seen smoking a pipe while stroking a tiny kitten perched on a 12-inch shell that dwarfs the feline in size 

A soldier and his mule making their way through the muddy fields on the Western Front during the First World War

A soldier and his mule making their way through the muddy fields on the Western Front during the First World War

Animals were a crucial part of the war effort with horses, donkeys, mules and camels carrying food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men on the front lines, and dogs and pigeons regularly ferrying messages

Animals were a crucial part of the war effort with horses, donkeys, mules and camels carrying food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men on the front lines, and dogs and pigeons regularly ferrying messages

It is believed that over 16 million animals served in the First World War, used for transport, communication and companionship.

Both sides possessed extensive cavalry forces with horses and camels being deployed in desert campaigns throughout the war. 

However, cavalry charges became increasingly difficult on the Western Front with new weapons such as the machine gun becoming increasingly common. 

It wasn’t only work that animals were used for. Dogs, cats and more unusual animals including monkeys, bears and lions were kept as pets to raise morale and provide comfort amid the hardships of war. 

Dogs, cats and more unusual animals including monkeys, bears and lions were kept as pets to raise morale and provide comfort amid the hardships of war

Dogs, cats and more unusual animals including monkeys, bears and lions were kept as pets to raise morale and provide comfort amid the hardships of war

It is believed that over 16 million animals served in the First World War, used for transport, communication and companionship

It is believed that over 16 million animals served in the First World War, used for transport, communication and companionship

Field guns can be seen here being dragged by men and horses to the Somme in October 1916

Field guns can be seen here being dragged by men and horses to the Somme in October 1916

British soldiers mess around near Peronne, France, in 1918, by putting a German helmet on a horse

British soldiers mess around near Peronne, France, in 1918, by putting a German helmet on a horse

Animals on the frontline helped move equipment, run messages, find bombs and save lives on the battlefield

Animals on the frontline helped move equipment, run messages, find bombs and save lives on the battlefield

Horses carry soldiers and carts through the destruction on the Menin Road in Belgium, 1917

Horses carry soldiers and carts through the destruction on the Menin Road in Belgium, 1917

The pictures are the work of Cardiff-based electrician, Royston Leonard, 55, who has brought the images to life through colourisation.

‘The idea was to show the use of animals in a war they did not start but were drawn in to by humans,’ he said.

‘They have been used by man in a lot of wars only to be left behind, if not killed when no longer needed.

‘From moving equipment, to running messages, to finding bombs and saving lives on the battlefield to just being there giving friendship and company to the servicemen.

‘I use a program called Paint Shop Pro and a standard PC to colourise the images, when doing this I always remember the photographers who went in to battle to get these shots.’ 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk