It wasn’t just men and boys who answered Britain’s call to join the armed forces in her hour of need.
Hundreds of thousands of animals left behind their peaceful, rural homes and made the journey across the English Channel to join their human comrades in the trenches.
Two years before the outbreak of what would become known as the First World War, the Blue Cross Fund had provided vital veterinary care to animals during the Balkan War. At that time, our charity was called Our Dumb Friends League (ODFL) and we named the fund after the flags displaying blue crosses that flew above animal hospitals and ambulances to distinguish help for animal casualties from The Red Cross, which provided aid to wounded soldiers.
In 1914, we knew our help would be needed once more.
Horses were an essential part of cavalry warfare and soon became needed to haul colossal artillery pieces, ammunitions wagons, machine guns, ration carts and other vital supplies.
“This act of courage shows how deep the bond was between my grandfather and his horses. Just three men survived the shelling that day but, despite great danger to himself, he refused to leave his horse to die a painful, lonely death” Ruth Turner, granddaughter of George Turner, who used his Blue Cross handbook to help look after horses on the battlefields
Dogs too were vital on the battlefields as they were used to run messages, detect mines, and act as patrol dogs, among many other tasks.
Perhaps slightly less known is the number of pigeons that served, who risked their lives by carrying vital messages over long distances.
Update from recent visit to AWAMO memorial, Pozières France
Lyn and myself along with brother Bob and wife Laurie went to the memorial today and had a little quiet time. We layed a few wreaths that I had saved from the inauguration last year. One was from RSPCA Qld, one from Redland Bay State school (Calen my grandson) and the other the one that Lyn and her daughter Samantha made. (Pictures above).
Bob and I have started work on the bricks around the bench seats and should finish Tuesday.
Bit busy here at the moment with the Sound and Light show up at the Mairie. On Monday the 23rd the Commune is hosting a wreath laying ceremony at Gibraltar opposite the Australian 1st Division Memorial. (Nothing at the Memorial Park)
SGT. STUBBY: AN AMERICAN HERO is a feature film based on the incredible true story of America’s most decorated dog. After being rescued off the streets by a young Soldier on the eve of America’s entry in World War I, Stubby is given a home, a family, and the chance to embark on the adventure that would define a century.
Starring Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter & Gerard Depardieu
The Australian War Animal Organisation understand the significance of the unconditional service rendered by Veteran Animals. We know the impact they have on their handlers and those whose lives they have saved and touched. Because of this we want to support the owners of retired service animals, so they can be offered appropriate veterinary and special care in their twilight years.
If you are interested in donating to this cause please click on the below link which will take you to the Go Fund Me page:
The beautiful Charles De Gaulle rose – the official ‘Australian War Animal Rose’ is available potted now by mail order. They make a beautiful gift for someone, or simply for a bit of colour in your own garden, either way, you will be helping to raise funds for AWAMO!
Over 9 million animals died during WWI including many thousands of Australian war horses, mules, donkeys, pigeons and dogs and no Australian war animals were returned home due to quarantine restrictions.
On the 21st of July 2017 we will be opening Australia’s official war animal memorial in Pozieres, France.
How can you help?
AWAMO hopes to display handmade purple poppies at the ceremony. We invite people young and old to participate by:
drawing a war animal;
colouring in a purple poppy; and/or
crochet or knit your own purple poppy
All purple poppies will be taken to Pozieres and displayed at the ceremony.
Post your poppy or poppies to:
13 Primrose Street
South Toowoomba Qld 4350