Charities and military gather to remember animals who serve and suffer in conflict

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White dogs with Animals in War wreaths

Petplan Charitable Trust held our annual remembrance service at the Animals in War memorial in Hyde Park on Thursday 10th November 2022.

This was the first proper gathering since 2019 and we were delighted to see so many representatives from animal rescue charities and the military take part. Jenny Seagrove laid a wreath on behalf of horse rescue charity, Mane Chance. Renowned actor Sir Derek Jacobi spoke at the event. Best-selling author Jilly Cooper also laid a wreath. She was the driving force behind the creation of the memorial following the publication of her book “Animals in War”.

jilly cooper and derek jacobi Animals in War remembrance service

“Animals have been used in war since the beginning of time and no less so than in the last 150 years,” said the Trust’s chairman, David Simpson, in his opening speech.

“326,073 horses died on the British side in the Boer War and less than 20 years later over 1 million were slaughtered in World War 1; pigeons to carry messages; dogs as messengers, ammunition carriers, detecting mines and laying telegraph cables; camels and elephants in the middle and far east; and even glow worms placed in jars to guide soldiers through the minefields of no man’s land; and many more. They have continued to be conscripted and used to the present day.”

two members of household cavalry chat to veteran at animals in war remembrance serviceThe current crisis in Ukraine made the service especially poignant. Guest speakers included Anel Becirovic who spoke about the continuing work of Dogs Trust in Bosnia, and Becky Thwaites shared insights into the incredible work and support Blue Cross are providing for displaced animals and pets in Ukraine. The forgotten animals of war in Iraq were also remembered by Sally Baldwin from War Paws.

Kieran Stanbridge spoke about the work of Thin Blue Paw which supports working and retired police dogs. One of Kieran’s volunteers is  the granddaughter of PC Thwaites whose service horse Olga is one of only 5 equine recipients of the Dickin medal. Olga was only 300 feet away when a 1,000lb doodlebug exploded in front of her near Tooting station on 3rd July 1944. She initially shied but together with PC Thwaites quickly came under control and came to the aid of survivors.

The event opened with a minute’s silence and closed with Sir Derek Jacobi giving a short but poignant reading.

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