If you haven't spotted the beautiful bright red pins yet, where have you been? We have poppies in all of our branches, for donations to the British Legion. Wear them with pride!
Did you realise how many animals have been involved in war time efforts?
The British, Commonwealth and Allied forces enlisted many millions of animals to serve alongside their armies. These animals were chosen for their natural instincts which helped support soldiers in various activities.
Horses, Mules and Donkeys
Eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys were used to transport ammunition and supplies to the front during the First World War. Mules were found to have tremendous stamina in extreme climates and over the most difficult terrain, serving courageously in the freezing mud on the Western Front and later at Monte Cassino in World War II. Equally they toiled unflinchingly in the oppressive heat of Burma, Eritrea and Tunisia. There are many inspiring stories of the great devotion and loyalty shown between horses, mules and donkeys and their masters during conflicts of the 20th century.
The dog's innate qualities of intelligence and devotion were valued and used by the forces in conflicts throughout the century, and continue to be so in the Police service, Border Force and many other organisations. Among their many duties, these faithful animals ran messages, laid telegraph wires, detected mines, dug out bomb victims and acted as guard or patrol dogs. These dogs showed amazing endurance, indomitable courage and supreme loyalty to their handlers.
More than 100,000 pigeons served Britain in the First World War and 200,000 in World War II. They performed stoically and saved thousands of lives by carrying vital messages, sometimes over long distances, when other methods of communication were impossible. Flying at the rate of a mile a minute from the front line, from behind enemy lines or from ships or aeroplanes, these clever birds would fly on through all weathers, despite exhaustion, in order to carry their vital messages home.
This pigeon is carrying a camera used to take aerial photographs during the First World War!
Elephants, camels, oxen, bullocks, cats, canaries, even glow worms — all these creatures, great and small, contributed their strength, their energy and their lives in times of war and conflict to the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces during the 20th century.
What amazing creatures we are surrounded by!
We can only hope that such efforts are not needed ever in the UK again - both for us and our furred and feathered friends. Sadly such peaceful times still evade other countries at present and no doubt there are animals still assisting with and surviving wartime conditions across the world. So let's wear a poppy - for our own veterans and all others, human or animal, affected by conflict throughout the world.
For more information about animals used in service, the work of the British Legion and others who have or are suffering through war time, please visit the following websites:
Royal British Legion
Animals in War Memorial Fund
Global Conflict Tracker (Council on Foreign Relations)