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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

Concerning Mules

Concerning Mules.

History does not record the name of the genius who first bred a mule. Probably he is in some delightful clime where our remarks cannot reach, or if they did reach, would be as a drop in the ocean. Still, there are mules and mules. A cobber of mine once had one issued to him as a ride. He adopted it and said that he wouldn't swop it for the best horse in the squadron. The M.O. didn't send him away in charge of two orderlies, so I suppose the mule must have had some virtues.

I happened to strike the A.S.C. way back in N.Z., where they gave me a couple of Clydesdales to drive, that Jimmy Patrick would have been pleased to take to the Dunedin Show. Well, they gave me a couple of mules at Kantara. I commenced to harness up, but didn't finish. I "came to" in the 27th. next day. Two months later I went about it more gingerly. After a day's toil I had grudgingly to admit that mules have their uses. Bill, my bivvy mate, used to swear by them. He is prejudiced; keeps thinking of the little Indian mules on the Peninsula that used to cart the water.

There are two methods of obtaining reinforcements of mules when your Animal State shows the strength below War Establishment. The first is to obtain them from the Remount Depot; the other, we used to favour most. Secretly, silently and surreptitiously we went out into the night to a camp near by. Brown was armed with "hospitality", and we gave him half an hour's start. He was to entertain the Tommy picquet while we did the rest at the other end of the line. Brown had a cherubic countenance and the bland-like innocence of the new recruit. We drew rations for five extra mules next day. The farrier swore at having to get up betimes and heat his number brands, but farriers swear so often. We took a spell on the clipping machine next day. An artillery officer once asked me for the military pedigree of my offside leader, and I think I convinced him he had made a mistake. We still have "Jinny", anyway.

When you are on trek perhaps you are inclined to relent, and think that, after all, mules may not be a mistake. They take those G.S. waggons into some marvellous places and stand more rough treatment than any horse would, or more than any horse should, be asked to stand. But I like to look back to a land where mules are as scarce as sugar plums in winter. Though you cannot develop the affection for a mule most men can for a horse, unless you have a kink, he his just as responsive to good treatment as the other equine. Mules captured from the Turks at different times, were mostly emaciated creatures that no humane person would work—usually galls and sores all over them. A month on decent feed and treatment, and "Abdul" would have failed to recognise them.