There have been many tales of animals recruited to join forces with humans during several wars. It might sound a bit unusual having to March alongside another primate or having maybe a dog or cat in your regiment performing duties like any other regular soldier. One of such enigmatic characters was Jackie the Baboon.
The greyfoot Chacma baboon was found by a man named Albert Marr while he(jackie) was wandering around on his farm. Albert adopted him and successfully domesticated the wild creature . When Albert was drafted into the South African army during World War 1, he did not want to leave Jackie at home so Jackie was taken along and they both joined the South African 3rd infantry regiment. Jackie was so well behaved that he was made the army’s mascot. The Baboon learnt how to salute a superior officer, eat with a fork and knife and even drink from a cup. He also marched with the men, stood at attention and at ease whenever the order was issued. He had a uniform tailor made for him with regimental badges and a cap.
His first war action was in the western desert region of Egypt on February 1916 against Senussi Bedouin tribesmen. Albert got injured during the fight, putting Jackie in a state of distress. Jackie tried licking the wound to comfort his owner. This show of loyalty impressed the men of the regiment.
They spent the next two years in France at the Western front. Due to the baboon’s superior hearing and night vision, he was able to warn troops of approaching enemies far earlier than any human thus preventing a number of raids. During the Lys offensive at Mount Kemmel, April 17, 1918, Jackie’s regiment was subjected to constant enemy shelling. Terrified, he tried building a wall of stones around himself for protection but a shell fragment severed Jackie’s right leg, fractured his left foot and injured his arm. Although badly hurt, Jackie refused to be evacuated. Later he was rushed to medics for treatment. They initially refused owing to the fact that they had little experience in treating animals but later obliged after a series of pleas from Albert. Jackie was then knocked out with chloroform, his injured leg amputated and his wounds dressed.
After the war, Jackie was then promoted to corporal and moved to England with his owner. They were both treated as celebrities in England. They raised enough money which they donated to the red cross society. Jackie then returned to South Africa and received the Pretoria Citizens service medal.
Jackie died on 22nd of May 1921 after a severe thunderstorm erupted in the evening. A series of intense thunderclaps sent him into shock thereafter leading to a heart attack.



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