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Tribute to donkey war veteran

A donkey adopted by soldiers during the trench battles of World War One will be honoured in a public ceremony in Peterborough

A donkey that was adopted by the 26th (Cameronian) Regiment on the battlefields of The Somme, is to be honoured in a public ceremony in Peterborough’s Central Park.

Jimmy was born at The Somme in 1916. He was delivered by soldiers from the Cameronian regiment after his mother, who had been used to carry supplies to the front line, was injured by German shellfire.

After his mother died, Jimmy was adopted by the regiment and became their mascot.

Throughout the horrors of trench warfare, Jimmy remained a loyal servant to the men, keeping them company and lifting their spirits.

In the three years, he spent on the front line it is believed Jimmy was injured seven times.

When the war ended in 1919, Jimmy, along with his fellow comrades returned to Britain. He was gifted to the Peterborough branch of the RSPCA and was kept in a paddock in Burghley Square, a short distance from Peterborough Central Park.

He continued working as a flag bearer for the charity on their open days and gave rides to children in the park.

Jimmy died in 1943 and was buried in the grounds of Peterborough’s park. For nearly 60 years a simple headstone marked the spot where he lay.

Over time the headstone disintegrated until the Evening Telegraph, Peterborough’s local paper, reported on how Jimmy’s resting place was neglected and overgrown.

Now there are plans to restore Jimmy’s headstone and hold a special public service of commemoration.

Councillor Yvonne Lowndes said: “Despite the fact that this happened such a long time ago, people still remember Jimmy. Since the news of Jimmy’s grave broke, I have had up to 40 phone calls a day.

“We are hoping to hold a simple ceremony with a bagpipe player and a representative of the Cameronians.

“The park is currently undergoing a refurbishment programme so the ceremony will take place in early spring next year. This will coincide with the 60th anniversary of Jimmy’s death and will be a fitting tribute to a war veteran.”

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