Dated: June 22, 2008.
During the First World War the Berlin Zoo had Indian elephants as part of their collection. My friend found a photo showing that at least one of the elephants was employed in the latter part of the war to pull a milk wagon. There was a severe shortage of horses and animal feed so it was one way to insure delivery of essential food supplies to people and make use of the zoo animal.
During WWII the Berlin Zoo had six Indian elephants, and since elephant life spans are similar to human life spans it is probable that the same elephants that lived there in WWI also lived there in WWII. The Free India Army may have had members who were skilled in elephant handling and since many of the zoo animals were removed from the Berlin zoo to escape the bombing attacks, I have postulated that perhaps two of them could have been drafted into the army to serve as artillery "horses."
These photos show two of the HaT elephants towing the HaT WWI German Artillery and Limber. I have modified the elephants to take the horse tracings so they can tow the artillery. I have modified two of the mahouts by using parts of the HaT mahouts and parts of HaT and Revell horse mounted German soldiers. The headwear is from Atlantic Indian Army sets.
A unique and improbable set up to be sure, but quick, cheap, interesting and actually vaguely plausible in the final days of WWII. The Free India Army did use these guns, and they did maintain an embassy in Berlin, so 5% of their troops could have been detailed there to protect the embassy and their staff. Not a likely combination, but a possible one, certainly more probable than the Maus in combat!
By Mike "Bunkermeister" Creek
Many thanks to Mr. Creek.
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