Telling your storiesfrom the stables to the fields

11 November,2017

Remembering Animals in War

RSPCA remembers all the animals who have died in war for Armistice Day

To mark Remembrance Day the RSPCA paid its respects at the Animals in War memorial site in London to remember the animals who lost their lives alongside soldiers in war. RSPCA Assistant Director for the Inspectorate Dermot Murphy laid a poppy wreath at the memorial in London to commemorate the bravery of each animal involved in war. The animal welfare charity had an important role during both world wars from raising money to help sick and wounded horses to the many inspectors who joined the Army Veterinary Corps (AVC).

By 1915 more than half of inspectors and staff were serving with the armed forces and during the First World War 2.5 million injured animals were admitted to the AVC. Of these 80% were treated and returned to service.

The ceremony, held on Friday (yesterday), commemorated the sacrifice of animals in wartime and the significant contribution of countless dogs, cats, birds and even camels in the war effort. The RSPCA will also attend the National Service of Remembrance held at The Cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday.

RSPCA Assistant Director for Inspectorate Dermot Murphy said: “It is incredibly important to honour the valiant efforts of RSPCA staff and all animals that were lost during the war efforts.

“We lost 18 RSPCA officers in WW1 and five in WW2, and there were many more who survived, labouring through these and subsequent wars to protect horses, mules and other animals under fire.

“We reflect on the human and animal pain, distress and losses caused through human conflict and commemorate those people who defended and protected animals, and the animals themselves who served not just in WW1 and WW2 but also wars across the world today.”

During both world wars, dogs were often used to find wounded soldiers, cats helped guard the trenches and ships from mice and rats, and pigeons carried messages into enemy lines.

In 1915, the charity raised £250,000 to help horses on the frontline. The money supplied 13 veterinary hospitals with an operating theatre, forage barns, dressing sheds, 180 horse drawn and 16 motorised ambulances.

It is estimated that 484,143 horses, mules, camels and bullocks died during the First World War and an unknown amount of dogs, cats, pigeons and other animals.

During the Second World War, there were 734 rescue centres set up by the RSPCA to help those animals and deal with casualties. The charity treated 256,000 victims of enemy action as well as one million animals with general illness or injury.

The RSPCA attended the Animals in War ceremony to pay its respects and will also hold a minute silence across its centres and head office. RSPCA Lockwood also weaved poppies into the plaits and head collars of horses and donkeys at its centre.

Press release: RSPCA


  1. We have a plaque at our local riding school to remember horse killed in both world wars. The owners tell us some horses from their yard were taken for the war effort and never returned. So sad.

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