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Taxpayer bill for dogs of war and other military mascots revealed

Published 12/01/2016

Domhnall pictured during a meeting with the Duchess of Cambridge
Domhnall pictured during a meeting with the Duchess of Cambridge

Goats, a wolfhound and two Shetland ponies are among the nine taxpayer-funded mascots in the Army, Government records show.

Several of the animals also hold the rankings of fusilier and lance corporal, Defence Minister Mark Lancaster added to MPs as he also included details of their "rations".

The mascots include drum horses Talavera, of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and Alamein, also known as Charlie, of the Queen's Royal Hussars.

They are unranked and are joined in this category by Domhnall of Shantamon, the Wolfhound of the Irish Guards whose rations are simply listed as "dog food".

On the mascot of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Mr Lancaster explained: " As their traditional regimental mascot, an Indian black buck, is now an endangered species, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers has adopted a British Otterhound as their stand-in regimental mascot; he holds the rank of Fusilier and is fed dog food."

Kashmiri goats Fusilier Llwelyn, of the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, and Lance Corporal Shenkin III, of the 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh, are listed along with Lance Corporal Derby XXX - a Swaledale ram representing t he Mercian Regiment.

The final two mascots are both Shetland ponies - one known as Cruachan IV, a lance corporal with the Royal Regiment of Scotland and Pegasus V, a lance corporal with the Parachute Regiment.

The rations of the non-dog mascots are listed as "pasture forage and concentrate".

Conservative frontbencher Mr Lancaster, in reply to a written parliamentary question, said: "Official military animal mascots are a long-standing tradition in our Armed Forces and carry out ceremonial roles and duties.

"There are a total of nine publicly-funded official mascots in the Armed Forces, all of which are attached to the Army."

He was replying to a request from Labour's Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) to list the rank, rations, species and regiment of all the UK's military mascots.

The Ministry of Defence said it was unable to provide costs for the official mascots immediately as it was not part of the information requested by the parliamentary question.

The Government has cut the number of regular army troops in recent years as part of attempts to save cash, with moves to shrink the regular force to 82,000 while increasing the number of reservists to 30,000.

In 2011, then defence minister Andrew Robathan confirmed there were 10 official mascots in the army.

He said at the time: "T here are a number of mascots in the armed forces, some of which are official, and thus attract a certain level of official funding to cover accommodation, movement, quarantine, veterinary services, bedding and rations.

"Other, unofficial mascots are maintained through private unit funds."

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