Monday, May 24, 2010

Animals In War Memorial, London

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.) 


  1. "They Had No Choice"

    That really hit home.

  2. The memorial is a remarkable, clearly deeply felt piece of work. As I said, we just wandered into it and, because of its very central location on the edge of Hyde Park, quite close to Marble Arch, I’d like to think that it has captured the attention of a lot of people and will continue to do so. The inscription really couldn’t be improved on. Thanks for noticing. Curtis

  3. Curtis,

    Thinking of our mutual willingness to turn and live among the animals at times, I've been meaning for a while to refer you to a blog I think you will really like. The fellow is very pleasant, entertaining and smart, and he and his family actually live among even more animals than do you and your family. If such a thing is possible.

    Even sheep and goats, yet (in Norway).

    You'd enjoy it, I think.

    A Bad Guide

  4. Thanks so much. I'm pulling it up now and it's a pleasing addition to the daily/weekly schedule, which includes Jane's first set of "serious" final exams. She's a very good student, but has a healthier attitude regarding the "work/play/other stuff" balance than I did, and so short of shackling her to the bed, I'm working my powers of persuasion (and bribery) to the hilt. Jane wants a goat badly. We're thinking of getting a pony mule. We met a couple recently and they're unbelievably cool and apparently incorporate the best qualities of both animals, including the mule's ability to kick in a 360 degree radius.