Mules and other equine species have been used in warfare for thousands of years to transport goods and supplies. Mules are known for ‘braying’, which is disadvantageous in warfare operations. This article explores the fascinating development of surgical techniques to stop military mules from braying, with particular emphasis on the key role played by the otolaryngologist Arthur James Moffett in devoicing the mules of the second Chindit expedition of World War II.
The PubMed database (1900–2017) and Google search engine were used to identify articles related to devoicing mules in the medical and veterinary literature, along with information and images on the Chindit expedition.
This paper reviews the surgical techniques aimed at treating braying in mules, ranging from ventriculectomy and arytenoidectomy to Moffett's approach of vocal cordectomy.
Moffett's technique of vocal cordectomy provided a quick, reproducible and safe solution for devoicing mules. It proved to be advantageous on the battlefield and demonstrated his achievements outside the field of medicine.
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