10th November 2017
Lest We Forget
Throughout history, in war and in peace, animals and mankind have worked alongside each other.
As “beasts of burden”, messengers, protectors, mascots, and friends, the war animals have demonstrated true valour and an enduring partnership with humans.
The bond is unbreakable, their sacrifice great – we honour the animals of war.
Mark Pearson has been spending the parliamentary break visiting the WW1 killing fields of Northern France.
One destination was particularly poignant; the Animal War Memorial at Pozieres. Amidst the war graves of fallen soldiers there lies a small memorial garden set aside to honour those horses, donkeys, dogs, and pigeons that were conscripted into war service and killed in action. These forgotten heroes finally have a place where their sacrifice can be remembered.
The Animal War Memorial at Pozieres was only opened in July 2017 and has already become a focal point for visitors around the world. The establishment of this memorial is owed in large part to Nigel Allsop, a former veteran who worked in all aspects of military canine operations and training, and who established the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation. Allsop raised the funds for the Pozieres memorial, and has intentions to further enhance the the site with more statuary, in honour of animal war service.
I will honour and pay tribute to all those fallen in WWI – both human and non-human. Animals did not choose nor were conscripted to war but forced by our hand. Despite this, their loyalty and trust still came through.
I am so appreciative of the French government and, in particular, the village residents and Mayor of Poziers for establishing a special Memorial for them there. A place where so many horses and dogs died from gun shot or a long lingering death from injuries whilst trapped in mud.
What I discovered on this visit to Pozieres Australian Animal War Memorial is something I will never forget. Here, in only three weeks, more Australian soldiers and animals fell than anywhere else during WW1. These were just kids in uniforms and animals forced into a living hell. Despite this, even upon hearing the discharge of a bomb shell which they sensed could target them, horses and dogs were seen to lean over and ‘cover’ their soldier comrade to shield them from the impact. Horses with their heads, dogs with their bodies.
Lest We Forget them too.
Mark Pearson will be wearing a purple poppy during his visit, signifying the sacrifice of those animals who endured the horrors of the battlefields. Some 9 million horses and unknown numbers of other animals were killed during wartime. Tragically, surviving horses were denied return to Australia and soldiers were traumatised at having to leave their companions behind to an uncertain fate. Many shot their horses rather than risk their ill-treatment or slaughter for food.
The “Animal” Poppy
Most people are unaware that as well as the traditional red poppy worn to mark the Armistice Day of 11 November 1918, that there is also the purple poppy, worn in remembrance of the animals who died during conflict.
The Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) issued this purple poppy, intended to be worn alongside the traditional red one, to signify and pay respect to the sacrifice the animals made alongside their human comrades.