13 November 2008

Animals in War

Sorry to those of you waiting for the next instalment of my story, but I had to post this one now for it to be relevant to the time of year, but will resume my story in the next post.... Promise!

Much has been said in the last few weeks about the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War. With Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day having just passed, it has been impossible not to notice the abundance of poppies commemorating the deaths of much loved young men who perished in wars over the last hundred years. My own two grandfathers, I might add on opposing sides in World War One , were lucky to survive yet bore their injuries for the rest of their life. My English grandfather, fighting at Ypres, the Somme and Paschendale, lost an eye and had severe shrapnel injuries to his leg, when a bomb exploded, killing his artillery horse. My German grandfather, also on the Western Front, was wounded in the leg and was awarded the German Iron Cross for his bravery. That was before Hitler kicked him out of Germany in 1939 (see my post of 16 October). When my mother met my father and they began to plan their wedding, my two grandfathers met for the first time and joked (in gallows-style humour), " I bet you're the one who shot me!!"

But it is not about the men and women who sacrificed their lives or endured pain during the world wars that I want to write about today. Last week when I was in Central London for my medical, I took a bus down Park Lane - a street I don't visit very often. I was surprised to see a memorial in the central reservation of the road that I had not seen before. It was already getting dark and I was on the wrong side of the bus, but the illuminated memorial caught my eye. Unfortunately, I could not see what it was all about.

I investigated it on the internet when I got home and discovered that it is a memorial dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time. One of the inscriptions simply reads "They had no choice". When you think about it, war is terrifying enough for mankind, but to animals who understand nothing of the politics and simply have no choice but to participate in loud, frightening situations, it must be a thousand times worse. You have only to think of how animals respond to thunder or fireworks to appreciate their terror.

The Animals in War Memorial is located at Brook Gate, Park Lane, on the edge of London’s Hyde Park and was designed by leading English sculptor, David Backhouse. It was apparently unveiled on 24 November 2004 by the Princess Royal.

http://www.backhousesculptures.com/images/animals_in-war1.jpg
picture 1

Picture 1 (above) shows the north side of the monument with a horse and a dog.
Picture 2 (below) shows the south side of the monument with two heavily-laden mules.


http://www.gardenvisit.com/assets/madge/animals_in_war1/original/animals_in_war1_original.jpg
picture 2

I could probably do no better than to refer you to Wikipedia and the memorial website. Both have much more information and lovely pictures of the monument.

15 comments:

Retiredandcrazy said...

It's very sad isn't it? I seem to remember that there is a dog cemetary near Marble Arch too? Or am I havering again?

rosiero said...

Now you've taught me something! I didn't know about that either. Makes me wonder just how much I know about this city I have lived in for fifty odd years. Here is a piece about it from another blog. http://timeoutinlondon.blogspot.com/2007/12/952-take-tour-round-pet-cemetery-in.html

aims said...

Of course this has brought tears tears and more tears.

Animals follow us faithfully - yet how often are we unfaithful to them? To put them in the line of danger is unforgiveable - but necessary I suppose in the minds of the evil men who dream up war.

May their be a special special place for these wonderful creatures at the Rainbow Bridge.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

lovely thanks for posting on this..

as l've only been to london about 3 times since we moved north in '96..l've missed this completely...as I used to work there and so was there regularly...
fascinating.. and worthy

Flowerpot said...

poor dear animals. Mine hate fireworks so the thought of war - oh no...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I think to remember the animals in a lovely thought. We often forget about the pain they endured.

Thank you so much for the really lovely comment you left on my blog.

CJ xx

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

How lovely that the faithful and loving animals have their own memorial. Quite right too. I can't bear to think of how they must have suffered.

A x

Hadriana's Treasures said...

There is a Michael Morpurgo book called "War Horse" which talks about similar themes. They are putting it on at the National Theatre next year. I read about how he wrote the story and I find it sad and fascinating.

Ladybird World Mother said...

I had absolutely no idea that there was such a place. Will go and see it the next time I am up in London. Poor animals. Bewildered beyond belief I should imagine.

Ham said...

For completeness, you might like my photo http://londondailyphoto.blogspot.com/2006/01/animal-vc-because-they-had-no-choice.html and the PDSA pets cemetery http://londondailyphoto.blogspot.com/2007/10/theme-day-cemeteries.html

rosiero said...

Hadriana - I had not heard of that book. Kay used to read a lot of Michael Morpurgo. Will have to see if I can get it.

rosiero said...

Ham - thanks for your links.

Elaine said...

This was so sad. I had no idea....

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Hi Rosiero - me again. Just to let you know I have tagged you! All revealed on my blog.

A x

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Hi Rosiero - I know I have only just tagged you, but now there is an award for you at my place. Would love you to have it.

A x