Several years ago, while visiting London during our “Big Ben/Loch Ness Monster/Leprechauns” tour of England, Scotland and Ireland, we encountered unexpectedly the Animals In War memorial at Brook Gate near Park Lane when we set out on a walk from our hotel in Park Street. We had stayed at this hotel, which was barely a minute from the memorial, many times before, but not for a couple of years, which allowed the appearance of the memorial to come as a complete surprise to us.
It is a handsome and enormously moving tribute to animals (mules, horses, dogs, elephants, camels, canaries, even glow worms), all “conscripted”, who served and toiled with men across centuries in the horrifying but universal enterprise of war. As the legend on the monument says “They Had No Choice”.
The memorial was designed by the British sculptor, David Backhouse, and has been described as “a curved Portland stone wall [that] symbolises the arena of war, with the animals depicted on it in bas-relief. Two life-size heavily laden bronze mules struggle up the steps towards a gap in the wall. Beyond the gap a bronze horse and dog gaze into the distance.”
I hope all of you will have a chance some day to see the Animals In War memorial and to think about the animals whose lives it commemorates. (Note: Clicking on the uppermost photo gives a clear view of the inscription on the memorial.)