Discussion in 'Italy' started by chrisgrove, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Yes, mules came from Argentina and America, among other countries. They were also bred in India. In Italy, quite a lot were requisitioned from local farmers. Note that I have carefully talked about Animal Transport mules. My book has quite a lot to say about Artillery mules as well but, for my purposes, artillery mules are more specialised and carry different loads. Artillery mules tended to be bigger and stronger as they carried heavier loads. Radios were carried by the calmest and best behaved mules in the unit as the consequences of losing the radio were severe.

    Incidentally, apparently one Italian 105mm pack howitzer was actually deployed by mule (as those Italian ones were) during the Borneo confrontation during a period of prolonged cloud when helicopters could not reach the required position. The Italian gun gun takes 12 mules to carry it. The mules came from that last Pack Transport troop from Hong Kong. I have no details, but presumably some more mules must have been needed to carry ammunition.

  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    saw this in the 5th Div history.
    Wonder if it of any use?

    Attached Files:

  3. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Good ones - the mule looks happier that the muleteer...not a pleasant task for either.
  4. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Thanks Owen. Good pic of the Universal Carrier (not the armoured one!). Not sure (if I do ever get round to making a vignette) that I would be able to replicate the rather dejected air of the muleteer depicted. But, rummaging through a box of junk given me by a neighbour (who gave up modelling and took up Bowling, for heaven's sake), I found two pack horses and a mule in Braille Scale of course. The latter is rather an odd shape, but has magnificent ears!

  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    I think this must be the WW2Talk thread that Leslie (4jonboy) was referring to:

    Indian & Cypriot Muleteers with the BEF - WW2Talk

    There are quite a few Pathe videos linked to there and also the one below that was missed.

    Troops In Cyprus - 1940 - British Pathe

    Another still from an Italian site devoted to the battle for Monte Cassino which claims to be of Cypriot Muleteers.


    An interesting and at times amusing account of Charles C. Stadden's wartime experience which includes stories of service with the Cyprus Regiment. Unfortunately there are no images of mules packing materials.

    Charles C Stadden 12th June 1919 - 12th September 2002

    My Uncle Francis (Frank) Aitkenhead was awarded a Military Medal while attached to the Cyprus Regiment at Monte Cassino. He is mistakenly named John Aitkenhead which was later corrected in the Gazette.

    Recommendation for Award - WO 373/7/530

    Regards ...

    Attached Files:

    Guy Hudson likes this.
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    A couple of small photographs in the book Monte Casino by Mathew Parker.

    One showing a couple of mules from 17th Indian Mule Company carrying supplies for the 4th Indian Division in March 1944.

    A second Photo Shows two wounded soldiers on litters attached on each side of the mule.

    The mules belonged to a Moroccan Medical Battalion and were on their way down from the mountains in April 1944.

  7. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Thanks for these; very useful pics!

  8. I'm very late to this discussion, but there are some great photographs of mules in "The Story of the RASC." I've been looking at how mules were parachuted for the Airborne. Seems drugs played a role. Not a surprise.
    Dave55 likes this.
  9. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Mules being parachuted; I would love to know what sort of information you have identified. My Cousin Once Removed (Major Douglas Witherington) pioneered this when with the Chindits in Burma!

    Edit: I really must get Relatives nomenclature understood. Douglas was my mothers cousin so that makes him my Cousin Once Removed and not Great Uncle...... I think !
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
    Dave55 likes this.
  10. Terrific! I read about your Great Uncle. A retired RASC officer who is helping me with the research thinks my uncle, who was attached to the 1st and later the 6th Airborne with RASC, may have been sent to SEAC/India-Burma to learn how the Chindits were supplying troops after the problems encountered with Market Garden. I have a lot to learn about this, and have been reading so much that I now can't remember exactly where I found out about parachuting mules, but I will check tomorrow and send you some references. I do know that mules were used extensively in Italy, and that my uncle was with HQ CRASC 1st Airborne in Operation Slapstick (Taranto, Italy). I'm not sure yet whether he was in Operation Husky (Sicily), or the HQ CRASC stayed in North Africa. Anyhow - I'll let you know what I find out, and would greatly appreciate any help you or anyone reading this can add.
    Dave55 likes this.
  11. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron


    I have only very limited information and I've posted most of this on the Forum anyway (just search for 'Witherington'). Douglas and his wife lived for many years in the Far East before moving back to the UK where he became Vet to the Jockey Club. He died many years ago but I believe his daughter (Ann) is still alive although I have no personal contact - large family, different interests etc: can't be everywhere all at once, you know what I mean.

    The most readily available information about Douglas is in his Telegraph and Times(?) obituaries. I've also asked my Mum (Douglas was her Cousin) about him but she knows very little about his time with the Chindits except that he 'had his own aeroplanes'.
  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Good to see mules back in our discussions. I've concentrated on the subject quite a bit over the last few months for my website, including writing a full story about one American mule that carried a Chindit column's radio in Burma and survived the expedition.

    I've attached some items that might be of general interest below.

    There was another thread on the forum on a similar subject which should be connected to this one:

    Minnie the Mule

    TMB1.jpg TMB2.jpg Chindit mules.jpg Mule advert missiouri copy 2 2 2 copy 4.jpg WM1.jpg
    Guy Hudson, 4jonboy and Tricky Dicky like this.
  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  14. I'm sure many of you, and particularly SDP, have seen this link to the obituary for Dr. Witherington.

    I'm searching for what I found earlier about parachuting mules with the Airborne, but it was an offshoot of the trail I was following then, and I didn't take good notes. Bother! Will keep looking because I think it is very interesting.

    Douglas Witherington
  15. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Just completed a narrative on all types of animals used on Chindit 1, including of course the beloved mules:
    Chindits with Four Legs
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  17. I've been on a side trip for a few months reading war diaries, but am back in - dare I say it - the saddle. Not sure a mule would permit that, however. As those of you who have patiently helped me for many years may remember, I am writing a book about my British mother and uncle during WWII (on about page 455 now, so I have made some progress). My uncle went with the RASC - second lift - to Taranto. There was a serious lack of motorized vehicles, and it seems likely the RASC resorted to requisitioning mules. I'd like to learn more about that, and would greatly appreciate any thoughts and suggestions.

    The connection I'm about to suggest is fuzzy at best, but here it is. After Taranto, my uncle went with his commanding officer Lt. Colonel Jeffereies to the 6th Airborne, and then was immediately posted as Chief Training Officer in the RASC Training Centre. Soon after Arnhem he was send to SEAC/India. One of the many people helping me understand all this suggested he may have been sent there to find out how the Chindits were supplying troops in difficult country. The answer seems to be - mules. So, I want to learn more about the use of mules in Operation Slapstick, as well as by the Chindits.

    By the way - my American stepfather fought with Stillwell, so I have the narrative if not factual excuse to have the British troops my uncle met in Burma cursing Stillwell, while my stepfather is praising him, and my father, who was an American pilot with the Ferry Command is circling overhead.

    Cheers - and thanks for any help.

    Chris C and CL1 like this.
  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  19. Terrific! Thank you. This and the other links are a great help.


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