Mule Corps

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Mule Corps and other Army mules.

Mules formed part of the supply and transport section of armies and were particularly popular with expeditionary forces which had to travel over rougher terrain. A mule driver is called a muleteer.

Punjab Mountain Battery showing swivel gun barrel on mule

Mule Corps of the Indian Army

Prior to 1884 no permanent transport department was established in the Indian Army and animals, carts and drivers were hired locally when required. Between 1884 and 1887 a separate transport corps existed. This became known as the Commissariat Transport Department and was under the control of the Military Department.

However by 1905 a further reorganisation had witnessed the emergence of a regular corps and cadres of mules, camels and cart transport. "This now consists of 21 mule corps, 9 silladar camel cadres and 2 pony cart train cadres. A mule corps is commanded by a British officer and is divided into two subdivisions, each in charge of a warrant officer. Those for cavalry brigades are divided into six draught and four pack troops , each under a daffadar and have a total strength of 552 all ranks, with 936 mules. Those for use wih other arms are divided into nine pack troops, each under a daffadar, and have a total strength of 388 of all ranks with 840 mules. Cadres of mule corps are commanded by a British Officer and maintain practically the full number of supervising and artificer establishments. They have, however, a much smaller number of mules." [1]

Fibiwiki article on Mountain Guns describes the artillery that could be carried by mules

The mule corps played an integral part in the various theatres of war during the First World War such as France, Gallipoli, Egypt and Basra.


page from 1905 Indian Army List showing entries for Mule corps

Details of where the individual sections of the Mule Corps were based each year are included in the annual Indian Army Lists under the section entitled "Supply and Transport Corps". (An example page from 1905 is shown).

Gallipoli, First Word War

At Gallipoli during the First World War there were Four Mule Cart Corps, each comprising 650 men and 1086 mules.[2]

Mule Corps in Macedonia, First World War

Mule Corps from the Indian Army served in Macedonia during the First World War, see External links.

There was also a British Army regiment called the Macedonian Mule Corps established in the summer of 1916 by the British Salonica Army and the Cyprus colonial government, (also known as the Cypriot Mule Corps). These men served mostly in Salonica during the war and in Istanbul after the armistice. [3] A regimental history, The Macedonian Mule Corps 1916-1919 : some records, compiled by Major J.P.B. Condon (1979, Nicosia) is available at The National Archives Library, and Imperial War Museums. The following histories are available at the British Library: Serving the empire in the Great War : the Cypriot Mule Corps, imperial loyalty and silenced memory by Andrekos Varnava UIN: BLL01018230538 ; The Cypriot Mule Corps in the First World War by Nur Çetine UIN: BLL01018781384 .

Also see The National Archives record entry WO 405 The Macedonian Mule Corps in World War I, which includes a searchable database.

Recommended reading

A chapter about mules is included in Tales of the Mountain Gunners an anthology compiled by those who served with them and edited by C. H. T. MacFetridge and J. P. Warren. Edinburgh : Blackwood, 1973.
An anthology of tales and short stories about one of the most unusual and colourful units in the history of the British Empire: the Mountain Artillery. Its reputation for action attracted a collection of adventurous, able and eccentric officers; usually with a combination of all three qualities. See Military reading list - Army - Other - List of books recommended by Peter Moore. Another reader said "I cannot recommend too highly Tales of the Mountain Gunners. It is simply enthralling, moving, funny, inspiring and wonderful. It would be in my top 10 books never to part with.[4]
Chapters include: in the days work, good fighting, the soldier, the mule, the gun, some characters and more.[5]

External links

Historical books online

  • "Mule Transport in Persia" by C E Biddulph page 407 The United Service Magazine Volume 8 New Series October 1893 to April 1894 Mules were purchased in Persia by the Indian Transport Department.
  • "Chapter X: The Mule" page 270 Animal Management 1908. Prepared in the Veterinary Department for General Staff, War Office. HMSO. Reprinted 1914
"Chapter X: The Mule" page 275 Animal Management 1923 HathiTrust Digital Library
There is a 1933 edition, previously, but no longer, available online.
Handbook for the 2.95 inch q.f. mountain gun, mark I mule equipment. 1906. Published London. With plates, including Mule plates. State Library of Victoria.
Handbook of the q.f, 3.7-inch mountain howitzer, mark I, 1921 State Library of Victoria. The handbook contains text relating to the loading of mules, but not the illustrative plates which were issued separately.
There possibly may be similar online volumes also on the the State Library of Victoria website.
Within the catalogue entry, click on "Available at: State Library Victoria online viewer".


  1. Imperial Gazetteer of India Volume 3
  2. "The Indian Army at Gallipoli 1915" condensed from a paper presented by Sqn Ldr Rana TS Chhina (Retd) at a conference organised by the Australian War Memorial in August 2010. Website of the High Commission of India in Australia, now an archived page.
  3. "Recruitment and Volunteerism for the Cypriot Mule Corps, 1916-1919. Pushed or Pulled?" by Andrekos Varnava, Itinerario / Volume 38 / Issue 03 / December 2014, pp 79-101 and "European Subaltern War Asses: 'Service' or 'Employment' in the Cypriot Mule Corps During the Great War" by Andrekos Varnava, both Also see List of muleteers who served with the Macedonian Mule Corps, also to be found at
  4. Muerrisch. Royal Artillery in India, Pack Battery query Great War Forum 28 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  5. Webpage no longer available. Originally from "Books on Artillery and Fortifications" DP&G Publications.