Reflecting on Animals in War

We asked for your photos of how you have been remembering the service and sacrifice of animals in war and you haven’t disappointed … these images come from our wonderful supporters in Hampshire, Surrey, London, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, the Cotswolds and Windsor. It seems that all across the country kind-hearted folk have wanted to reflect on the crucial roles animals played in two World Wars, and in subsequent conflicts. For example, in World War 1, horses, donkeys, mules and camels carried food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men at the front, and dogs and pigeons carried messages. Canaries were used to detect poisonous gas, and cats and dogs were trained to hunt rats in the trenches. In World War 2, between 1943 and 1949, 54 animals received the Dickin Medal for bravery including 32 pigeons, 18 dogs and three horses. However, it was the lack of food, not bombs, that posed the biggest threat to wartime pets. There was no food ration for cats and dogs. It’s a little known fact that at the start of the War 750,000 pets were killed in just one week. The cull came as the result of a public information campaign that caused an extraordinary reaction among anxious Britons. Ultimately, given the unimaginable human suffering that followed over the six years of the war, it is perhaps understandable that the extraordinary cull of pets is not better known. This week has certainly been a time to reflect and remember…

Our grateful thanks to Simon and Charlotte Greaves, Poppy and Arthur; Sue Tresman; Allison Roberts and her donkeys Hamish and Dougal; Liz Brown’s donkey, Colin, and dogs; the Donkey Breed Society; the rhinos and staff at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens; Rebecca Halliwell-Coutts and last, but certainly not least little Flynn 0’Farrell.

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