#1 here, to tell you what I was up to last Friday. Several months ago, I was asked by the British Percheron Horse society, of which I am a member, if I would be willing to represent them at a very special event in France. An organisation called AWAMO (Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation) was going to unveil a memorial to the animals that had lost their lives in WWI, working alongside the military. There were many, many horses, both light and heavy, plus mules, donkeys, dogs and even pigeons. Whereas the people who died in that horrendous conflict have many memorials to them, the animals remained forgotten victims. It is the Australians who started the creation of these documents with help and sponsorship from many others.
This particular monument is in Pozières, in the Somme, the site of the greatest loss of human and animal life for the Australian army during WWI. It is a five hour drive north from where I live, so I set out on Thursday afternoon, so as to be ready for the event on Friday morning.
The ceremony took most of the morning. There were high-level military representatives from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France, Belgium, and Canada, as well as several prominent Australian politicians and veterinaries. There were several horses there, plus a pony and a donkey. One of the horses modelled a spectacular rug of purple poppies (which represent animals that died in war) that had been handmade in Australia:
Four monuments were dedicated: one to Australian animals, one to New Zealand animals, one to all animals, and one to veterinarians. They were all beautiful:
It was one of the most moving ceremonies I have ever attended, and I have never seen so many grown men cry as they made speeches. Even more touching was this: The British army was in the process of moving some of its military dogs from Germany back to the UK, and they stopped by to take part. Meet the dogs of war:
Are you noticing something here? Yes! One of the most commonly used breeds by the British Army is the English Springer Spaniel, just like Tommy! They are used as search and detection dogs and are considered the best of the best!
Of course, they do use Malinois Belgian Shepherds also, as protection dogs:
Pigeons were used a lot in WWI to send messages, and it was lovely to see some there:
A team of draft horses brought pigeons that were released during the ceremony:
Some of the military brass:
It was so touching to see these animals finally getting recognition for their work and dedication. I will finish with a video of the Last Call being played by a bugler from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps:
It was such a privilege to be there. This was the wreath I laid on behalf of the British Percheron Horse Society:
PS: Many thanks for all the enquiries and good wishes concerning Vidock. He is coming home today and will be on box rest for a couple of weeks.