If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that from time to time I write an article about an animal, tree or bird that I encounter here on my farm. I am a passionate lover of nature and I love special stories about animals. On the weekend I promised a friend that I would send this story to them but have decided that I would put it up on my blog for all to enjoy.
Last year while still living in Europe we had a little time to spare so we decided to take a drive along the Normandy coast as we had heard so much about the natural beauty in that part of France. Before we even got to the coast we started to see many war graveyards and memorials with flags from all over the world. This sparked a memory of stories my grandfather had told me about World War I. He always told me about The Battle of Delville Wood because so many South Africans took part. A quick look at the GPS and we found we were minutes away from where that battle was fought. We spent a couple of hours there looking at the monument and graveyard and trying to envision what the horrific battle must have been like. While in the museum I stumbled on this story. It’s about a baboon called Jackie (just like me).
Jackie was a baboon and before the War was the beloved pet of the Marr family from Villiera near Pretoria and especially Albert Marr, the son. When Albert Marr attested at Potchefstroom on the 25th August 1915, he asked permission to bring Jackie along with him. Because Jackie was so well-behaved and had an impressive bearing, Jackie was adopted as regimental Mascot of the 3rd South African Infantry Regiment and taken on strength as a member of his Regiment.
On arrival in England he was provided with a special uniform and cap with the badges of his regiment.
He was allowed in the trenches and was a firm favourite and comrade on action service. His acute hearing and eyesight were very useful with Albert, his master whilst on sentry duty.
Jackie would salute officers, use a knife and fork in the correct manner and would light up cigarettes or pipes for comrades.
When Albert was wounded in 1916 by a bullet in a shoulder, Jackie was beside himself and attempted to comfort the prostrate Albert, even licking his wound.
Jackie was wounded near La Clyte in 1918 by a shell splinter, Albert being wounded by the same shell. Jackie was amputated of his right leg. It was the end of his active service and with Albert they received much publicity whilst recovering from their wounds in Britain. They raised thousand of pounds for the Red Cross and took part in several events. At one such event it was possible to buy a kiss from Jackie for 5 shillings or a handshake for 2/6d.
He was officially discharged at Cape Town on the 26th April 1919 and on discharge wore one gold wound stripe and three blue service chevrons for 1916, 1917 and 1918 active service.
He returned home with Albert and died in the twenties in the burning of the farm of his master.
Stories like these always make me think about how much the world has changed in such a short time – its seems like it was a very, very different place then.