The Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation Inc. (AWAMO), a registered not-for profit Incorporation is made up of community members from diverse backgrounds that have the likeminded aim to recognize the deeds and sacrifices of all animal species, who have given their lives and their loyalty, serving alongside their human comrades in wars and conflicts. Listed in the next few pages a small portion of the charity’s achievements. AWAMO has four main core activities. 1. The establishment of memorials. 2. Fiscal and material sponsorship to veteran Service dogs. 3. Education. 4. Sponsorship to other animal projects assisting veterans or animals.
SOME OF AWAMO’S ACHIEVEMENTS ARE:
❖Since 2010 AWAMO have established over 35war animal memorials within Australia and Internationally. The majority of these are at RSLs and military museums, several at parks including Toowoomba’s Centenary Park and another at Enoggera Military Camp. The latter is Australia’s first ever war animal memorial on a Military Establishment, it was opened by Brigadier Bilton, Commander 7 Brigade in June 2014.
❖Since 2010, AWAMO has supplied several dozen K9 care packages for operational dog teams deployed in East Timor and Afghanistan. At the same time AWAMO supplied six dry as a bone dog fleece lined jackets to dogs deployed in winter mountainous terrain in Afghanistan. Today as part of this same project AWAMO provides care packages to domestic veteran MWD-whose owners could not afford some comforts for their dog. Alas it’s a fact a number of veterans are on the poverty line but still have a canine companion and mate. These parcels contain a new lead, food bowl, worming and flea medication, dog shampoo, teeth cleaning chew toy and some treats for the dog-finally a donated handmade blanket or dog coat.
❖AWAMO opened the Smoky war dog memorial statue at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital in 2012, it was officially opened by Her Excellency the Governor of Queensland. This featured on the Great South East TV series.
❖In 2014 AWAMO was approached by Queensland Rotary to help a young quadriplegic man obtain a service dog. He had been waiting three years. AWAMO obtained, for him, an ex-Police dog and after a short period of retraining it is now fully certified as a Queensland assistance dog and has significantly improved this young man’s life.
❖AWAMOin 2016 a war animal memorial was established in Kokoda, PNG to honour all animals that died in that region during WWII.
❖In 2014 ‘Riding for the Disabled’ approached AWAMO to assist returned servicemen and women suffering from PTSD. They were able to use funds donated by AWAMO to cover the cost for the ADF personnel to ride for 12 months as well as the cost to TAFE qualify,two riding instructors to coach them.
❖AWAMO’s achievements were acknowledged in a TV segmentwith Sir Tony Robinson about war animals which aired in March 2015. AWAMO activities also recently featured on the TV show The Project.
❖In conjunction with 7 Brigade, AWAMO have made several donations from the sale of Nigel Allsopp’s current published book ‘Smoky’ to go to the PTSD program at Brisbane’s Army based Rehabilitation Centre. AWAMO staff are on the committee of the Army Welfare and Rehabilitation Centre, Brisbane and assist fiscal sponsorship of Service dogs for PTSD veterans.
❖In September 2014 AWAMO was asked to establish a war animal plaque and a special war pigeon memorial, the first of its kind in Australia, at the Caboolture Historical Association Village. We also gave fiscal aid to establish a small war pigeon museum within this historical village.
❖In 2014 AWAMO was approached by SBA Precious Metals in Melbourne to help design a set of five War Dog bullion collectables. These are now on sale throughout Australia with SBA making a donation from every sale given directly to AWAMO.
❖In October 2015 Australia Post made available to the public a series of five war animal stamps in which the President of AWAMO was asked to assist with the design process.
❖As a serving Queensland Police Dog Handler, the President of AWAMO was tasked to establish a Police Animal Service memorial for all the horses and dogs that have served the Queensland Police Service over the past 150 year. This was opened on 15th December 2014 by the Commissioner and the Minister of Police.
❖In March 2015 AWAMO obtained a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish two more memorials on behalf of people who worked with, rode or cared for the animals. The first memorial, which was opened on 30th May 2015 was for The Australian Army Veterinary Corps. This is the first and only memorial for the people who saved the lives of tens of thousands of animals during various conflicts. This Corps was disbanded in 1946. The second memorial was for the Indigenous Light Horsemen of WW1. They had no memorial, this also being recognized as an Australian first. AWAMO worked alongside the Mayor of Logan, the Department of Veterans Affairs and local Indigenous Elders to erect this monument on the 19th December 2015. For its efforts AWAMO has been nominated for the National Reconciliation Award.
❖Between2015 & 2019AWAMO assisted in setting up a war dog tribute at both the Melbourne and Sydney Dog Lovers Shows, educating over 30,000 people at each event on the role dogs have played in warfare and conflicts. With the funds raised from these events we sponsored another service dog trained for PTSD companionship and we have likewise sponsored a horse with Queensland Riding for the Disabled for the same purpose.
❖AWAMO has produced tenhistorical books on war animals and war dogs plus fourchildren’s books on war animals. Funds raised by the sale of these books directly support the establishment of memorials.
❖As animals have no voice of their own our aim is to ensure that the deeds of war animals do not get lost and to educate young Australians that not only two but also four legged diggers served this Nation. To this end AWAMO opened the first war animal plaque at an Australian School for the Qld Education Department at Eaton Hills. AWAMO also opened, in NSW, a war animal memorial at Glen Innes Special School in 2016.
❖AWAMO has partnered with Treloar Roses to rename the ‘Charles De Gaulle’ rose to the ‘War Animal Rose’ -this beautiful purple rose is available on-line at www.treloarroses.com.au. In 2017 this partnership resulted in the AWAMO war rose garden being awarded the World’sbest Heritage Garden displayin Toowoomba.
❖In 2016 AWAMO jointly co-operated with the World Cheetah Foundation to assist in financing Anatolian herd dogs to protect flocks of domestic animals within the Cheetah reserve. Each dog costs $500 to buy and the same yearly to maintain (AWAMO sponsors 3 dogs). Since their introduction the loss of Cheetahs via farmer shootings has decreased by 90%.
❖Perhaps one of our smallest successes but vast in its ideals is the purchase of a STAR, yes AWAMO has its own star. It is situated in the Scorpius Constellation position RA 16.414-Declination -27.06.
❖In 2016 AWAMO gifted, as a way of a thank you to our troops, a painting of 8/9 RAR Mascot Stan the ram. This $4,000 painting was donated by AWAMO to the Regiments museum and featured in the Army News.
❖At an official service parade at Enoggera Military Camp, AWAMO donated, to the Australian Army, a bronze resin sculpture of a Light Horseman-approximately 1 meter high to 2/14 MI for their centenary celebrations.
❖After several years of consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Military Attaché in Vietnam AWAMO provided an honour board commemorating the 11 tracker dogs which did not return home after the Vietnam War at the Ho Chi Mihn Consulate.The first memorial allowed in that country in 50 years.
❖AWAMO designed and erected a memorial to Police working dogs at the Brisbane central railway station in conjunction with Queensland Rail to celebrate 100 years of service. This was attended by the Commissioner of Police, CEO QR and Minister for Qld Transport.
❖On 8th June 2017 the AWAMO President unveiled the ADF War dog medal, issued by Honours and Awards and the Defence Department. This is the very first such canine medal in the world. The concept was initiated by AWAMO after years of lobbying.
❖AWAMO was able to secure a special riding saddle from the USA Veterans Affairs Dept used for amputee riders. The saddle will be used for Australian Veterans and Emergency Service workers. AWAMO discovered that several police officers have lost a leg and were riders prior to their accidents. There are also around half a dozen Military veterans in Qld that have lost legs during active service. This saddle has been donated to Mates Four Mates for Emergency Service and Defence Force personnel to assist them to learn to balance or to ride again. This is the first such saddle in use in Australia.
❖In January 2017PD York an ex -Queensland Police explosive detection dog passed away. York, after several years of service in Australia, had been transferred to the PNG Police to support the growing fight against terrorism. Sadly after 5 years’ service there York died. AWAMO purchased two memorial stones to honour York. One went to PNG Police Headquarters and the other to his Police ex-handler in Queensland.
❖On 21st July 2017 AWAMO opened Australia’s Official war animal memorial in Pozieres, France. This is AWAMO’s largest venture so far –the $200,000 bronze statues not only honour Australian war animals but animals from all Nations. All funds were raised by AWAMO with NO government funding.
❖In October 2017 AWAMO establishing Australia’s first war animal memorial to Mascots at the Croydon West RSL sub-branch in South Australia to one of Australia most famous ‘Digger’. Digger’s remarkable service is remembered as how Digger ‘went over the top’ 16 times and had been through some of the worst battles on Gallipoli and the Western Front. He had been wounded and gassed at Pozières in 1916, shot through the jaw, losing three teeth, was blinded in the right eye and deaf in the left ear. There are also accounts of how Digger would take food to wounded men stranded in no man’s land, sometimes bringing back written messages. AWAMO paid for this memorial to be erected in his honour.
❖Perhaps the most important achievement to date for AWAMO is the establishment of the Veterans Canine assistance program, Funded solely by AWAMO. In brief there remain around 20 service dogs that have deployed multiple times to Afghanistan either in service or retired. These are veterans but do not get recognized as such and receive no fiscal assistance once retired from the government. The defence force does not have a policy to assist them, it relies on the good will of people taking these veterans on once retired from service, just as you might say they are at an age they need help. AWAMO has a program to provide medical aid and supply other canine items.
❖In Feb 2018 AWAMO President was asked to establish the New Zealand War animal memorial at the Army National Museum at Waiouru, NZ. AWAMO raised funds and purchased a bronze statue from the USA. This memorial honours all NZ war animals and was attended by Defence Minister and NZDF Chief of Staff.
❖As part of AWAMO charity we always sponsor a local animal cause in the area that we establish a memorial. In NZ AWAMO has donated a $1000 worth of purple poppy merchandise that will be administrated and sold by The Waikato Equine Riders Association-then donated to the Kaimanawa heritage Horse Society to aid the local wild horses around Waiouru. A fitting charity due to the location of the memorial and the wild horses running wild within the Army training area nearby.
❖In June 2018 AWAMO opened the New Zealand Veterinary Corps memorial at Massey University as a tribute to the men and women that cared for the war animals.
❖In July 2018 AWAMO President was requested to attend the War Horse memorial opening at Ascot, UK as ANZAC Ambassador to war animals. The UK Prime Minister and members of the Royal family attended the several events surrounding the statue opening. Whilst in the UK the President was asked to address staff and cadets at Sandhurst Military Academy. He conducted several lectures and has been asked to provide a thesis on war animals for use at the Academy.
❖In 2018 AWAMO President as author donated two of his books to Vision Australia, were they have been converted to brail and audio.In 2019 likewise,the book New Zealand war animals was donated and converted for use with the Blind Foundation of New Zealand and Scotland.
❖In 2018 AWAMO calculated that its book donations to Schools, libraries,Children’s Hospitals and Ronald MacDonald House exceed $30,000.
❖AWAMO has supplied over $5,000 worth of WWI uniforms and materials to Pozieres to support the local population that honour our Soldiers by an annual re-enactment display.
❖AWAMO continues to support Pozieres annual Equine Trek across the Western Front battlefields by way of a trophy and medallions for its participates. The Trek done on horseback by over 100 riders displays the role of animals in war.
❖AWAMO has donated several thousand dollars to Mates-4-Mates via the selling of their dual red / purple poppy pins ‘we serve together’ that help support their Equine PTSD program. This project allows Veterans with PTSD to partake in a riding camp that assists in their therapy.
❖AWAMO continues to fund Young Diggers who train assistance dogs for Veterans, so far AWAMO contributions have assisted eight dog teams(some $8000 so far).
❖AWAMO President was made ANZAC representative for Blue Cross Awards UK in 2018 and as such AWAMO has brought this award to Australia and New Zealand. In 2019 Digger the WWI war dog and Bill the Bastard WWI horse were presented this award at a ceremony. Likewise,in June 2019 Caesar the NZ WWI war dog was awarded the Blue Cross Award at Waiouru Museum, NZ.
❖After much lobbying, in late 2018 The Hon. Scott Buchholz MP stood before parliament and read a speech about the role animals have and continue to play in war and conflict. He announced, on behalf of AWAMO, that February 24th be recognised as the official National War Animal Day to be celebrated every year on this day.Likewise,in 2019 AWAMO President held a meeting at NZ Parliament and the NZ PM approved NZ would also establish its war animal day as 24 February each year.
❖On the first National War Animal Day 24th February 2019 a plaque, donated by AWAMO, was unveiled at Cockatoo Rise Retreat in Bairnsdale, Victoria.
❖In 2018 AWAMO was a Finalist for the CEVA Awards the awards which celebrate the achievements of remarkable people from the farming, veterinary and charity industries, who go beyond the call of duty to better the lives of animals around the world.
❖In 2019 AWAMO in the spirit of ANZAC cooperation, AWAMO included New Zealand’s war animal dogs in the Veteran Dog program. So far two veteran Afghanistan dogs are being sponsored by AWAMO. The funds raised will come from an initial donation from AWAMO headquarters, Australia and then after from the sale of AWAMO purple poppy war animal merchandise in cooperation with the National Army Museum, Waiouru.
❖In 2019 AWAMO provided the New Zealand Navy Museum with a marble plaque to honour all naval mascots that have served.
❖AWAMO has supplied the NZ Education Department with several books written on NZ War animals and donated Posters to schools on war animals.
❖AWAMO has donated fiscal aid and resource’s to Therapy dogs New Zealand to help train assistance dogs for NZ Veterans.
❖AWAMO has donated two bronze plaques to the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum at Wigram, one to honour the mascots that have served alongside RNZAF staff since WWI, the other to recognize and mark the 50th Anniversary of the RNZAF dog section.
❖AWAMO has supplied funds and purple poppy’s to South Africa for a new war animal memorial opened in August 2019.
❖2019 AWAMO has been nominated for the second year in a row for the British CEVA Awards the awards which celebrate the achievements of remarkable people from the farming, veterinary and charity industries, who go beyond the call of duty to better the lives of animals around the world.
❖2020 AWAMO President attends opening of Australia’s first unknown tomb for war dogs at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. AWAMO was instrumental in the concept some 5 years prior and has worked towards its establishment.
❖2020 Sees AWAMO President address Federal Parliament Canberra regarding war animal history and the 24 February as war animal day.