The ammunition donkey

Place Europe: France
Accession Number ART02656.002
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 17.6 x 25.5 cm; image: 15.4 x 22.8 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description watercolour on paper
Maker Kearton, William Frederick
Place made France
Date made c. 1916 - 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


During the First World War, donkeys were used in the transportation of ammunition to the front. The donkey is often represented as the symbol of stupidity and stubbornness. However, a donkey is notorious for its capacity to secure footing in treacherous terrain. They often scramble with considerable speed among rocks and slippery ground, able to do this with heavy burdens, tirelessly.

This illustration depicts a donkey with a sling over its saddle with three shells on each side. A mounted soldier pulls the reigns of the donkey as it struggles to wade through the muddy terrain. Behind them is another mounted soldier with an ammunition donkey. The billows of smoke in the sky, the aircraft overhead, fencing on the skyline and broken duckboard walk in the foreground suggest they are close to the frontline.