Australian WW1 animals honoured in France

WW1 Animals honoured in France. Photo: AWAMO

Corporal James Coull with dogs of No.3 Messenger Dog Section. Photo: AWAMO

Australian WW1 animals will be honoured with a memorial at Pozieres in France.  This will be Australia’s official war animal memorial for all WW1 four legged veterans.

The Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) is a non profit organisation that supports and supplies aid and erects memorials to war animals.  AWAMO has been offered a plot of land at Pozieres, France for the memorial.  Over 5000 Australians still remain buried there. 

Australian WW1 contribution in France

Australians made a significant contribution to the defeat of the German forces who had invaded France in 1914. In less than seven weeks in the fighting at Pozières and Mouquet Farm three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties. Of these, 6,800 men were killed or died of wounds.

During the battle of Pozieres the town was destroyed. Like many villages in the area, the war reduced it to little more than rubble and marked a moment in history when a special link was forged between that corner of France and the land down under.  France has never forgotten the sacrifice. The Australian flag still flies over Pozières.

WW1 animals suffered greatly

Amongst the forces who fought at Pozières, Australian war animals from mounted Infantry, artillery, supply units and mule trains suffered greatly.  Nine million animals lost their lives during WW1.

WW1 animals honoured in France

War animals include military working dogs, mascots, equines, pigeons, camels and other native and exotic animals

Throughout the War, the allies relied heavily on its horses and mules. Many horses were killed by artillery fire, injured, wounded or effected by poison gas.  Hundreds of thousands of horses died, and many more were treated at veterinary hospitals and sent back to the front.  The Horse Doctors as the Vets were known treated all types of animals during WW1. The history of Australian war animals would be complete without mentioning the outstanding work of the Australian Army Veterinary Corps (AAVC). Although the Corps only existed for 37 years it played a vital military role.  Twenty five thousand animals were treated during the eighteen months of its existence.

Horses were not the only animals of course, apart from other equines such as mules and donkeys that AIF troops used, the Australians also used messenger dogs and messenger pigeons.

Australian WW1 animals honoured in France with memorial at Pozieres

WW1 animals honoured in France with this memorial

Proposed memorial. Photo: AWAMO

AWAMO is planning to erect a memorial at Pozieres either made of small sandstone or similar local rock with the war animal bronze plaque attached.  Next to this plaque AWAMO hope to place a war animal poem.  The official ceremony will take place on 23rd July 2017 on the 101st anniversary of the start of the battle at Pozieres.

Apart from the memorial,  AWAMO will be building a purple rose garden to match the planned other three rose gardens dedicated to humans.  There will be also a bench seat with an animal design. A paved stone walk will feature in the Pozieres Animal Memorial Park.

Their blood stained the land, as they served with pride. A duty to their master, they stood side by side. From the sky, to the sea, through a vast open land, together they fought—both animal and man. Animals of War—We Will Remember Them. Continue reading this moving poem

How you can get involved 

You can make buy a purple poppy or make a donation to AWAMO to help fund the building of the memorial for the Australian WW1 animals honoured in France.  Your donation will contribute to the building of the memorial, the purple rose garden and the bench seat.

Be a part of history and purchase an engraved paver for the Pozieres Animal Memorial Park. From $50 you can have engraved – your name, your business name, your pet’s name, in memory of someone and as a gift to someone.  More at Purple Poppies.


Nigel Allsopp, President of AWAMO