To mark Remembrance Day, the RSPCA paid its respects at the Animals in War memorial site in London to remember the animals who lost their lives alongside soldiers in war.
The Animals in War monument in London’s Hyde Park is a moving tribute to all those animals who served, suffered and died alongside British, Commonwealth and Allied forces in the wars and conflicts of the 20th century. Author Jilly Cooper (who wrote Riders) is a Trustee and wrote Animals In War , a tribute to the role of animals in wartime
Today at the memorial, RSPCA Assistant Director for the Inspectorate Dermot Murphy laid a poppy wreath at the memorial in London to commemorate the bravery of each animal involved in war.
The RSPCA played an important role during both world wars to help animals. It raised money to help sick and injured horses for instance.
Many inspectors joined the Army Veterinary Corps (AVC). During the First World War, 2.5 million injured animals were admitted to the AVC, and 80% of these were treated and returned to service.
In 1915, the charity raised £250,000 to help horses on the frontline. This money supplied 13 veterinary hospitals with an operating theatre, forage barns, dressing sheds, 180 horse drawn and 16 motorised ambulances.
During World War Two, the RSPCA set up 734 rescue centres to help animals and deal with casualties. It treated 256,000 victims of enemy action, and 1 million animals with general illness or injury.
Today’s service commemorated the sacrifice of animals in wartime and the significant contribution of countless dogs, cats, birds and camels.
Dogs were often used to find wounded soldiers. Cats helped guard the trenches and ships from mice and rats, and pigeons carried messages into enemy lines.
As the RSPCA pointed out, this is an opportunity to consider the human and animal pain, distress and loss caused by human conflict. It is also a chance to commemorate those who defended and protected animals during war.
As well as attending the Animals in War ceremony, the RSPCA will attend at the National Service of Remembrance on Sunday at the Cenotaph.