Animals-in-War

This week we take a look at another of London’s war-related memorials but unlike the vast majority, this one, as its name says, commemorates animals, not humans.

Located in the middle of Park Lane near the intersection with Upper Brook Street on the eastern side of Hyde Park, the memorial is dedicated “to all the animals that served and died alongside British and Allied Forces in wars and campaigns throughout time”. Another inscription on the memorial reads “They had no choice”.

A further dedication at the memorial pays tribute to the “millions” of animals who have died in wars. “From the pigeon to the elephant, they all played a vital role in every region of the world in the cause of human freedom,” it says. “Their contribution must never be forgotten.” It’s been said that as many as eight million horses were killed in World War I alone.

It features a couple of bronze pack mules making their way through a gap in a curved, 58 foot wide Portland stone wall – themselves carrying reliefs of various animals including an elephant, horses, camels and pigeons – while on the other side is a bronze horse and a dog, looking ahead.

The memorial is the work of Somerset-based sculptor David Backhouse and was unveiled by Princess Anne in November 2004, the 90th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. It was apparently inspired by Jilly Cooper’s book, Animals in War, and commissioned by the Imperial War Museum. It was paid for by £2 million in public donations.

For more, check out www.animalsinwar.org.uk.