Friday, 6 March 2015

Purple poppies and Animals in War

We all recognise red poppies, symbolic for the blood spilled in war; they are symbols of loss.  Did you know that a white poppy is emblematic for Peace, and that purple poppies serve to remember animals that die during conflict?

Australian War Animal Memorials (AWAMO) is a not for profit organisation raising funds to erect memorials in Australia to commemorate the service and bravery of animals in the military. You can read more about animals that have served and continue to serve – horses, dogs, mules, camels, pigeons – on their website here.  You might see some purple AWAMO poppies on sale around town.

In London, there is a superb and very affecting memorial to Animals in War – you can see photographs and read more here.

In Canberra, the Animals in War Memorial is a joint project between the Australian War Memorial and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). This memorial has a very interesting story of its own which you can read here.

Our post of 3 October 2014 indicates that horses from the Ballarat district were requisitioned for service during the Great War – many thousands of horses went from Australia, but only one returned; Sandy, Major General Sir William Bridges' horse. You can read more about him here, but the fate of those many other horses is generally unknown.

Next week, a display will be set up in Ballarat library commemorating the service of animals in war, those who have served and continue to serve loyally beside we humans, in many roles – as messengers, protectors, as transportation into battle, for supplies, and for casualties, as mascots, friends and comforters, these war animals demonstrate true valour. They have suffered in our service, and their sacrifice is great – we honour the animals of war.

We’ve chosen this painting particularly because you might be familiar with the powerful image “Beaching the Lifeboat” in the Art Gallery, Ballarat.   That painting is also by H. Septimus Power. He was an official war artist attached to 1st Division AIF from 4 September 1917 to 31 March 1920. 
He was in France between September and December 1917 and again in August 1918. 
He was commissioned to produce work for the Australian War Memorial until 1938.

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