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I was posted to 23rd Indian Division Burma, here is a short story of my experience with the mule that was issued to me "Cedric" in place of motor transport

Submitted: June 16, 2017

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Submitted: June 15, 2017



Cedric….A mule….


I must say,  I commend all my fellow Facebook friends for their love and compassion for our a animals, whatever they may be.  Kittens, Puppes, Rabbits….whatever….but let me tell you a true  story of animal care during WW.2….while I served In the 23rd Indian Division,Burma.

We were soldiers, yes,  in the Royal Corps of Signals that dates back to early 1700`s and attached to the Royal Artillery in those days.  Cannons were hauled  by horses of course, and the Royal Corps of Signals were an  integral part of the Artillery for guidance and communications in the field.

Getting back to WW2, we were transported to Mhow  in India, where we were trained in Jungle Warfare…ready for the Japanese Enemy  that had occupied Burma.It was customary for us squadies to earn our spurs,  (they are worn in our dress uniform) due to our connection with the Royal Artillery.Each of us were assigned a horse!

“Daisy, Gert, Humphrey,Cecil”…whatever…..it was our duty to care for these gracious and intelligent creatures, right down to wiping their bums……

Suddenly, our miserable lives in the British Army had become irreversibly attached to an animal.He (or she) dominated our very existence…..They had to be looked after. Fed and watered, curry combed, mucked out and exercised…bedded down at night and, believe it or not, Loved!

Nothing was the same anymore!Up at 5 am in the morning, we attended our four legged friend,  watered and fed him, mucked him out…combed his mane ready for the mornings first works parade……And  Sergeant Major Cummins.Nothing was ever good enough for him…..Even the animals hoofs had to be polished…..The nightmare went on for some three weeks……We had all won our spurs…..

None of you will know what Burma is like….if I said hot muggy and wet, very wet, I would be very close to the mark.It is a country made up of a thick  impenetrateable jungle….a country where motor transport proved in many places, to be useless…..

How then did an army manage to move forward to engage the enemy?

We used mules…..yes,  a solid dependable hard working mule would be able to carry a goodly load…that is  if the animal felt like moving…..here is the story of Cedric….


 One morning I was informed that my name was up on the Divisional Notice Board, and I was to report to a Sgt Major Brunswick who would issue me with my own transport.  I was overjoyed of course, and imagined that I might receive an American made Willis Jeep, or the equivalent.

“Sign here..and here Corporal”  he said, without batting an eyeball.

I signed the document without a glance at its content.The Sgt. Major nodded towards the window and said, “He`s over there tethered to that tree.”

I flushed scarlet, “He?”  I queried.

“That’s right Corporal, you needed transport and you got your own mule…he`ll get `yer anywhere you want without petrol.”

I was stunned.

“But….but,”  I stammered

A broad smile appeared on the Sgt. Majors face, “He ain`t  done much mileage neither, his name is Cedric.”

“CEDRIC?”  I was doomed!  To have an animal in my charge, they taught me way back in Mhow, that since Cedric was unable to speak he would come first in everything that I did.  Like the Albatross strung around that Ancient Mariners neck, Cedric was destined to hang around mine for all eternity.

Naturally, being born to a country farmer I knew a fair amount about animal husbandry.  Walking up to the animal I seized its head and checked his teeth.  That mule was as old as Methuselah…. perhaps older.  How it ever made it from whence it came to that desolate God forsaken country I will never know.

I led the animal over to my bivouac pitched beneath a tree as a mortar bomb exploded on the perimeter of our camp.  It was loud enough to make me  jump.  Cedric never batted an eye-lid, and it was evident that the animal was also as deaf as a post.


I was teased and flaunted by all. “Geoff,”  they`d say, giving me a handful of grass,

“Could you take me into Town, here`s the petrol money!”

On occasion, Cedric would refuse to  move, and no amount of coaxing, pulling his halter or kicking his bum could budge him.  “Battery flat?”  they would ask.

“You need a new flint Geoff.”

“Out of petrol?”

“You still have the bloody brake on!”

The remarks came rolling in.We had orders to move a hundred miles to the North,

near the Irrawaddy river.  “We roll in twenty minutes.”  was the ultimatum given.

We loaded what little kit we had left in the Signal Office into the back of a ten ton Bedford truck in just a few minutes……….then there was Cedric.

The animal refused point blank to walk up the incline made by two wooden planks

and into the Bedford. 

It was hot, some forty degrees Celsius, and it was raining, we were wet, the animal was wet, the planks were wet, and the road ahead dissolved into a thick blanket of

green nothingness.Two hours went by, then three before Cedric walked the plank and we got under way.

We never saw nor heard of what happened to the convoy that went on ahead of us……and to this day, no-one ever found out.  As for Cedric, he saved several lives

further down the line, and served his purpose well.We ate him.


Geoffrey Kennell©




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