Soon after 10 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday, a cold dull day, a few of us
gathered around the beautiful and inspirational ‘Animals in War’ memorial in
Park Lane, London. Gradually others joined and, during the service, numbers
swelled to approximately seventy to eighty.
Cynthia O’Neil spoke of the horrors that so many and diverse animals had to
face in war and the inadequate response of the Church to the often immoral
treatment of these animals. As she said, even now animals have to face
persecution by man in many forms, including laboratory experimentation.
Pastor James Thompson then led the service with an address, prayers and a
Bible reading given by Doreen Thompson. Accompanied by recorded music, we joined
in the hymns, singing lustily, which should have stopped the traffic in Park
At 11 a.m. the silence was observed as we all quietly remembered and prayed
for the millions of animals who served so loyally and patiently, who suffered so
horribly and perished so painfully in man’s enduring need for conflict. I hope
our group of bowed heads will have induced as much thought in the passers-by as
our prayers and singing.
After the last hymn we laid our wreaths at the foot of the memorial,
sculptured in Portland Stone and in which the ghostly forms of all animals
caught up in the war steal along the wall in bas relief.
Pastor James gave his blessing; we sang the evocative Doxology, then with
cold toes, fingers and noses we chatted around the memorial until some drizzling
rain drove us to seek a warmer place and a cup of coffee.
In Port Elizabeth, South Africa, a memorial to all the horses and other
animals killed in the Boer War bears the following inscription: ‘The greatness
of a nation consists not so much in the numbers of its people, or the extent of
its territory, as in the extent and justice of its compassion’
Great is the debt we owe to animals.
Angela Curran, CCA.
It was hard to believe that a year had gone by since the first ever Animal
Remembrance Service in November 2008. Remembrance Sunday 2009 started dull and
wet but on arrival in London the rain had stopped. At least 70 people attended
the service including members of Catholic Concern for Animals, The Anglican
Society for the Welfare of Animals, the Christian Vegetarian Association UK, the
Christian Alliance of Love and Fellowship and Mark the Vet. Many brought their
dogs. The Revd James Thompson, the ‘Animal Padre’, then treated us to an
inspired service of love and compassion for all of God’s creatures. To open the
service, Cynthia O'Neil gave a short address bringing to our attention the
misery we bring to animals during both war and peace. Her address was followed
by a ‘Hymn of Remembrance’ by Linda J Bodicoat, sung to the tune ‘Thaxted’ (‘I
vow to thee my country’). Doreen Thompson then gave a reading from the Holy
Bible (Isaiah 2:2-4,11:6-9). A Scottish paraphrase (1781) of the reading was
then sung to the tune ‘Glasgow’.
The Animals’ Padre then prayed for justice and peace for all created life,
remembering in particular those whose very existence is threatened by the
horrors of war. To especially seek God’s forgiveness for our sins of
foolishness, greed and pride. He prayed especially for the hidden victims of war
– innocent animals; forced into dangerous situations, unable to express, or
comprehend their fear and pain. He also prayed that we would all have the
courage to speak out with determination to expose the inhumanity of testing
weapons of war on defenceless creatures; weapons that will ultimately be used
against humanity. He then gave thanks for the vision of those who had gone
before us; courageously pioneering the way forward, regardless of the cost to
themselves. He blessed all who continue to work for the relief of suffering
throughout the animal kingdom and that each of us would become true animal
advocates in Christ.
Pastor James then gave an inspiring sermon on our care of creation, followed
by the two minutes’ silence. The final hymn was written by him to the tune ‘St
Anne’. All were then invited to lay flowers, posies and wreaths on the memorial.
The closing prayer was given by the Revd George Ochola, a non-stipenduary priest
from Watford, and the service closed with everyone singing the Doxology.
Another unique and inspiring service thanks to Cynthia O’Neil and to the Revd
James and Doreen Thompson who travelled from North Wales to officiate at the
Christian Vegetarian Association UK.
And another memorial service, in Warrington, Cheshire
At the annual Warrington Service of Remembrance two wreaths of purple poppies
were laid on behalf of Catholic Concern for Animals and Quaker Concern for
Animals in recognition of animals who are the hidden victims of war. There were
a great number of people present and the numbers are increasing year by year
(presumably due to the current war in Afghanistan). It is perhaps not generally
known that more than eight million horses died in World War I, either by
bombing, exposure, disease and starvation. Many mules were abandoned on the
shores when soldiers were rescued from Dunkirk in World War II and elephants
were deliberately bombed as they were being used by the Japanese for transport.
In Vietnam, 5,000 dogs served with the American troops. Of these, only 150
returned home, the rest were abandoned. In 2005 alone, more than 21,000 animals,
including monkeys, pigs, sheep dogs and cats were subjected to experiments at
the secret biological and chemical research centre at Porton Down (Wiltshire).
God willing, we shall remember these helpless victims at each Remembrance
Service from now on.
Irene Casey, CCA
A postscript from Marian Hussenbux of QCA: The parade of dignitaries in
Warrington stopped just by Irene and me. A veteran came out of the procession
and said ‘I’m curious about your poppies – what do they mean?’ [Blue poppies and
wreaths were provided by Animal Aid]. When we said they were for the animals
lost in war, he said ‘I’m right with you there!’.