Milk seller & dog cart, Belgium


Laitière flamande – Vlaamsche melkboerin
[Flemish milkmaid[
Postmarked 1932

The milkman is almost unknown in Belgium, and except for a few boys and lads who accompany their mothers or elder sisters, all the sellers and carriers of milk ara women, who go round with their little carts and the brightly-polished copper or brass milkcans which are so well-known to all tourists. A word may well be said regarding the excellent management of the Belgian dairy farms, and of the milk supply. Inspections of the milkcarts and the milk are frequently held in most of the large towns for the purpose of ascertaining whether the many regulations that exist for the proper conduct of the business are being duly carried out. Not only is the milk itself carefully tested, but the cans are examined to see that they are thoroughly clean, and in every respect in a state of good repair. The condition of the dogs and the harness by which they are attached to the carts also comes in for inspection, lest the former should not have been properly fed, and the latter should in any way chafe or gall the animals.

Whatever one may think of the employment of dogs for the purpose of traction of milk and other small carts (and, of course, many humanitarians are strongly opposed to the custom), there can be no doubt that as a general rule the aninmls are well and kindly treated, and their comfort is wel) looked after by the authorities. Of recent years the owners of each cart have been obliged to provide a small piece of carpet or sacking for the dog to lie upon when resting, and also a drinking bowl.
The Catholic Press, 19 November 1914

Belgian Army, WW I


Armée belge | Une section de mitrailleuses Maxim
(Belgian Army: a Maxim machine gun section)
c.1914
Publisher: Nels

At the beginning of the First World War the Belgian Army could field only 102 machine guns. However, many of these guns were transported by a very unusual method. They were pulled on small gun carriages by specially trained dog teams. The machine guns seen in the photographs above are Maxim guns, but the Belgian Army also had a number of French Hotchkiss guns. The dogs used to pull the machine guns were Belgian Mastiffs, this strong breed were more than capable of drawing the 60lbs weight of a Maxim gun. . . .The relatively cheap cost of pack dogs compared to horses, along with their relative lack of maintenance – with no need for horse shoes etc, made the dogs an excellent option. They also offered a much lower profile than that of a pack horse, allowing them to stay close to the guns ready to move under cover when in action, and were much easier to handle without the need for specially trained troops. The dog teams were attached to most Belgian line infantry regiments with each battalion with 6 guns, split into 2-gun sections – each battalion had 36 dogs for the 18 gun and ammunition carriages. The machine guns could be brought into action very quickly and it was said that the dogs were so well trained they would remain quiet and patient in their harnesses until it was time to move again.
Historical Firearms


Armée belge | Les Cyclistes
(Belgian Amry: The Cyclists)
c.1914
Publisher: Nels

Bicycle infantry are infantry soldiers who maneuver on (or, more often, between) battlefields using military bicycles. The term dates from the late 19th century, when the “safety bicycle” became popular in Europe, the United States, and Australia. Historically, bicycles lessened the need for horses, fuel and vehicle maintenance.
Wikipedia.

With the advent of WWI, the thickly-roaded districts of France and Flanders meant that military cyclists would find the ground better suited for their wheels than combatants found in the South African veldt. The flat landscape of the low countries meant that Belgium in particular was an ideal environment for military cyclists and they were well used in the initial stages before the static stalemate of the trenches set in. Four Carabinier battalions of the Belgian army had attached companies of cyclists. They wore a distinctive uniform with a somewhat old-fashioned peaked hat similar to a kepi. Their cycles were the “Belgica” which was a foldable cycle. This allowed the bicycle to be slung across the shoulder when encountering difficult terrain. A dedicated military cycling school in Belgium provided troops with specific training in reading maps, reconnaissance and communication techniques, as well as the mechanical skills needed to maintain the bicycles.
Suburban Militarism: Belgium’s Carabinier Bicyclists


Armée belge | Escadron de cavalerie
(Belgian Amry: cavalry squadron)
c.1914
Publisher: Nels

The use of horses in World War I marked a transitional period in the evolution of armed conflict. Cavalry units were initially considered essential offensive elements of a military force, but over the course of the war, the vulnerability of horses to modern machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire reduced their utility on the battlefield. This paralleled the development of tanks, which ultimately replaces cavalry in shock tactics. While the perceived value of the horse in war changed dramatically, horses still played a significant role throughout the war.
Wikipedia.