The millions of animals, including horses, which have been killed in conflict while serving their country, are being remembered with a major new memorial in London.
The Animals in War Memorial is situated at Brook Gate, Park Lane, on the edge of London’s Hyde Park and will be unveiled by Princess Anne latyer today (Wednesday 24 November).
The sculpture by leading English sculptor David Backhouse depicts all the animals that have been used by troops in wartime, from horses and mules to dogs, elephants, camels, canaries and even glow worms.
A curved Portland stone wall symbolises the arena of war, with the animals depicted on it in bas-relief. Two life-size heavily laden bronze mules struggle up the steps towards a gap in the wall. Beyond the gap a bronze horse and dog gaze into the distance.
The new monument has been described as an “overdue tribute to the millions of conscripted animals that died in war.”
Vice chairman of the Animals in War Memorial Fund, Andrew Parker Bowles, says: “Britain was the only Commonwealth nation without a memorial to remember the sacrifices made by millions of animals who had no choice, but served their human masters and mistresses with loyalty and devotion in the darkest of circumstances.”
Co-trustee of the fund and author Jilly Cooper, whose book Animals in War inspired the project, believes that the new monument will become as much a London landmark as Nelson’s Column or Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.
“Thanks to the huge generosity of many individuals, charities and corporate sponsors we have raised nearly £1,000,000,” she explains, “but we still need a further £450,000 as costs have soared since we started the project six years ago. However, it is a superb opportunity for people to say thank you to all the animals that died for us.”
Donations, payable to the Animals in War Memorial Fund, should be sent to 72 Wilton Road, London SW1V 1DE or can be made by calling (tel: 01536 509826). Proceeds of Jilly Cooper’s Animals in War, which is available from bookshops or www.animalsinwar.org, also go to the fund.