Remembrance service celebrates 80 years of the PDSA Dickin Medal

Honouring animals who served and died in conflict

Last week, Petplan Charitable Trust held its annual remembrance service at the Animals in War memorial in Hyde Park.

pdsa dickin medalThe remembrance service honours the many animals that have served and died in conflict.

This year, the event also celebrated 80 years of the PDSA Dickin Medal.  The medal is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross and the highest bravery award that any animal can receive while serving in the military.

David Simpson and Cath Bourg from the Trust were joined by representatives from animal welfare charities, celebrities and members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and Mounted Police.Four members of the household cavalry on horsebackAmong the guests were the author and passionate animal lover Jilly Cooper CBE, Jenny Seagrove FRSA – actor and founder of equine charity Mane Chance, and Sir Derek Jacobi CBE.

“It’s always a privilege to organise this event,” said Bourg in her opening speech. “Every year we hear amazing stories about the courage, intelligence, loyalty and sacrifice of the many animals who have served, and continue to serve and suffer in conflicts all over the world and we are here to pay tribute to all of them, past and present.”

A minute’s silence was observed, followed by Major Daniel McRink reading the poem, A Soldier’s Kiss.

Sir Derek Jacobi Animals in War remembrance service

Jan McLoughlin,  PDSA’s Director General, spoke about the Dickin Medal and told the story of Simon the Cat DM. Simon was the ship’s cat on the HMS Amethyst from 1948-49 during the Chinese Civil War. He was awarded the medal for protecting the heavily-shelled ship’s meagre supplies from a relentless rat infestation.

Colonel Mark Morrison, Deputy Commandant RAVC, spoke about the importance of animals in the armed services. Flight Sergeant Mark Ginger,  (RAF) Dog Inspectorate, told the story of military working dog, Hertz (retired), DM.

Brough Scott MBE, Journalist, Author & Broadcaster, spoke about the WW1 war horse, Warrior, who was awarded the Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal posthumously in honour of all animals who served. Scott is the grandson of Warrior’s owner and rider, General Jack Seely

Mike Armitage, representing Pigeons in War, spoke about the carrier pigeon White Vision, DM.

Sir Derek Jacobi CBE read the closing poem.

Wreaths were laid by:

America Legion
Animal Welfare Japan
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
Birmingham Dogs Home
Blue Cross
Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys
Cats Protection
Dogs Trust
Horse Trust
Irish Terrier Association
Mane Chance Sanctuary
Mayhew
Nowzad
PDSA
Petplan Charitable Trust
Pigeons in War
Royal Air Force
Royal Army Veterinary Corps
Royal Kennel Club
Royal Pigeon Racing Association
RSPCA
Service Dogs UK
SPANA
Thin Blue Paw Foundation
War Memorials Trust
Welsh Pony and Cob Society
World Horse Welfare

All images courtesy Wayne Jones Photography

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