Military Wiki
Royal Army Veterinary Corps
Cap badge of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps incorporating Chiron
Active 1796-
Country UK
Allegiance British Army
Branch Veterinary medicine and animal handling
Role Animals, Animal Healthcare
Garrison/HQ Defence Animal Centre, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
Nickname(s) RAVC
Equipment Dogs, horses
Colonel-in-Chief HRH The Princess Royal

The Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) is an administrative and operational branch of the British Army responsible for the provision, training and care of animals. It is a small but technically competent corps forming part of the Army Medical Services. Unusually, although it is responsible for providing what might be termed materiel, it is under the control of the Adjutant-General, who is in charge of personnel.


The RAVC provides, trains and cares for mainly dogs and horses, but also tends to the various regimental mascots in the army, which range from goats to an antelope. Personnel include veterinary surgeons and veterinary technicians providing medical and surgical care to animals, and handlers who train dogs and deploy with them on operational service. Dogs are used extensively in the theatre of war, and are organised within the Military Working Dog Regiment (see below). Horses are used primarily for ceremonial purposes, although the Corps continues to rehearse procedures for the operational deployment of horses. This is explained on its website in these terms:

Although there is unlikely ever be a significantly large requirement for equines in future military operations, there are scenarios where ground conditions, (in situations where stealth is required or helicopters are not available for example), could make pack transport a vital solution to the need.


A sergeant of the RAVC bandages the wounded ear of a mine-detecting dog at Bayeux in Normandy, 5 July 1944

The original Army Veterinary Service (Veterinary Corps) within the Army Medical Department was founded in 1796 after public outrage concerning the death of Army horses. John Shipp was the first veterinary surgeon to be commissioned into the British Army when he joined the 11th Light Dragoons on 25 June 1796. This date is recognised as RAVC's foundation day (aka John Shipp Day).

It has been at Melton Mowbray since 1946.

The Honorary Colonel-in-Chief is the Princess Royal who has visited RAVC dog-handling units serving in Afghanistan.[1]


A German Shepherd Military Working Dog (MWD), 101 MWD Support Unit, Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

The main location for the RAVC is the Defence Animal Centre based at Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire although staff are spread throughout the Army. They are also responsible for explosives and drug search dogs.

Some of its numbered units are:-

  • 1st Military Working Dog Regiment
    • 101 Military Working Dog Squadron, based at Puckridge Barracks, Aldershot.
    • 102 Military Working Dog Squadron, based at Sennelager in Germany.
    • 103 Military Working Dog Squadron, based at Sennelager.
    • 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, based at St George's Barracks in North Luffenham, Rutland.
    • 105 Military Working Dog Squadron, (formed in April 2009) based at Sennelager.


Convalescent horses at the RAVC hospital at Tidworth Barracks, Wiltshire, in the Second World War

Sadie, a black labrador retriever belonging to 102 MWDSU and cared for by handler Lance Corporal Karen Yardley, won the PDSA Dickin Medal ("the animal's VC") in 2007.

On 24 July 2008, Lance Corporal Kenneth Michael Rowe of the RAVC and attached to 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment was killed along with his search dog Sasha, during a contact with the Taliban in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was the 112th British service member to lose his life in that country.

In February 2010, Treo, a black Labrador, was awarded the Dickin Medal for services in Afghanistan.

In 2011 LCpl Liam Tasker of 104 MWDSQN was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. His Arms Explosive search dog, Theo, died shortly after.


Seven memorial stones in remembrance of the five dog handlers who lost their lives while serving in Northern Ireland and the two dog handlers who were killed while on operations in Afghanistan have been placed at their base in North Luffenham.[2]

Work is in progress for an RAVC Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire which is planned to be unveiled in Spring 2014

Notable personnel

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Adjutant General's Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Small Arms School Corps


  • Clabby, John, Brigadier (1963). The History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1919–1961. London: J.A. Allen & Co.. p. 244. 
  • Milne, F.J. (September 1963). "Review of The History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps 1919–1961". pp. 235. PMC 1695409. 
  • Smith, Frederick, Major-General Sir (1927). A History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1796–1919. London: Baillière & Co.. p. 268. 

External links

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