Friday, November 11, 2022

11 11 22

To day is the 11th day of the 11th month.

The day of remembrance.

To that end I’m reproducing below a post about the memorial in London for the animals who lost their life in war.

And all the young men who lost their lives, and all the hopes and dreams, the generation that was lost.

As a wee kid, I thought my gran had lots of posh friends. It never dawned on me that she was their cleaner.  Her ‘friends’ tended to be wealthy, single women of business, with property on the bit of Govan Road where the well-to-do lived.  Being single, and in their 60’s/70’s, they were largely devoid of the company of children and my gran was allowed to take us along when my parents were both at work.

We’d get lemonade and cake, and usually some religious instruction, while Jessie ran round with a  duster and a navy blue cross-over pinny.

Auntie Nell ( we used to call them all auntie) lived in a huge corner tenement, her bay window looked out over Elder Park. She owned the local hat shop and was a woman of ‘means’.  Visiting her meant sitting down at the big velvet covered table, and being quiet until God spoke to us.

I was maybe about 3 or 4 years old, no more than that. I can still see her large fireplace, the focal point of the room. It was covered in sepia photographs in silver frames – all polished by my gran.  The young gentleman in all the pictures was Nell’s intended. He went off to fight in the First World War. He never came back. 

He was twenty one.

Nell Whyte lived her entire life loving the memory of that man. She never married. She never moved house. She remained there.

It happened to a whole generation,  in many countries.  The women who didn’t get to become wives, the kids that were never born.

Where would we be without them?

And where would we be without the animals that stood alongside them?

My previous blog states the simple fact. ‘They had no choice.’


The Animals In War Memorial was designed by David Backhouse, in memory of the animals that have served and died under British military command throughout history. 

The stone carved mural depicts  horses, mules, elephants, pigeons, dogs and a lone cat, a ghostly intriguing little figure that brings to mind  all those ship’s cats  like Chippy on Shackleton’s Endurance.

The memorial was unveiled on 24 December 2004 by the Princess Royal after the book 'Animals in War' by Jilly Cooper  was published and that book led to a fund  that eventually led to the memorial.

It sits on the side of Hyde Park, on Park Lane, right up at Marble Arch, the grass of the park on one side, an Aston Martin showroom on the other.

                                                      the dog has so many admirers the grass round him never grows.

The Website says “ This monument is a tribute honouring all creatures from the large, such as mules which were silenced in the Burmese jungle in World War 2 by having their vocal cords cut, to the small, like glow worms that were used by soldiers as a source of light to read maps in World War 1.”
The 58ft curved stone wall carries the engravings of a procession of the animals.
                                                    The wee cat
The short sections feature inscriptions on both sides; the numbers of animals lost. It’s horrific. Millions. 
"This monument is dedicated to all the animals
that served and died alongside British and allied forces
in wars and campaigns throughout time."
On the lower level, two bronze mules are hauling their load through the gap in the wall,
The upper level has a bronze horse and dog. The horse was modelled on a retired army horse called Ben Bragg.
It’s heart breaking. Everybody walks through the gap in the wall,  stroking the horse, patting the dog on its head,  then down the step towards the mules that get  similar treatment. In the 15 years the memorial has been there,  the bronze is wearing thin with  the human touch.

"Many and various animals were employed to support British and Allied Forces in wars and campaigns over the centuries, and as a result millions died. From the pigeon to the elephant, they all played a vital role in every region of the world in the cause of human freedom.
Their contribution must never be forgotten."


The second, shorter but larger in font, inscription simply reads:
"They had no choice."

Caro Ramsay 


  1. Wonderful post, Caro. It's so sad to realise that of the horses requisitioned for the War who actually weren't killed on the battlefield, most of the survivors were slaughtered for meat.

  2. Did you ever see the play War Horse? Amazing puppetry and very moving.