Thursday, 14 April 2011

Remembering our animal friends at the National Memorial Arboretum

It's been so busy round here lately that the Lady Of The House has only just got round today to sorting out her pictures from her Mother's Day trip to the National Memorial Arboretum here in Staffordshire with her friend Alyson on April 3.

It was a guided walk - led by a very knowledgable volunteer called Gary - walking round part of the huge 150-acre site to look at some of the memorials featuring animals, or about animals, or about incidents that involved animals.

The first memorial they stopped at featured a lifesize eagle and was a memorial to the Berlin Airlift which happened after the Second World War.
Then they saw a memorial to the 9/11 terrorist attacks which included fragments of rubble from the Twin Towers that had been donated to the Arboretum by the authorities in America. Gary told them about guide dogs Salty and Roselle who led their owners to safety down the stairs of the towers and were later awarded the Dickin Medal.
There are many young trees and recent memorials on the site which has been going just 10 years. This little tree was dedicated to "all the horses, mules and donkeys who have suffered and died in wars in the 20th century".
Police dog Az was remembered by this tree and plaque. Gary believed he was killed by a car as he chased a suspect across a road. Az died on 22nd May 2009 but the LOTH hasn't managed to find anything about him on the Internet. If you can find anything else about him, please let us know.
There was another memorial with a picture of a lovely German Shepherd dog on it which said: "Dedicated to the memory and faitful service of Police Dogs in the United Kingdom. 'Beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity and all the virtues of man without his vices'." Isn't that a lovely quote about animals in general?
The LOTH thought this carousel horse made a nice tribute to the men and women of The Showman's Guild. Gary said it divided people and some visitors loved it and others thought it was a bit too garish. The LOTH liked it because our home town of Burton-on-Trent was the home of two wonderful, talented men - George Orton & Charles Spooner - who built some of the greatest carousels and fairground rides ever in Victorian times. They also employed amazing artists like Sid and Albert Howell who did some incredible painting on carousel horses and fairground rides.
Thie beautiful wren carved out of wood sits on the memorial to the Women's Royal Naval Service - also known as the Wrens. That is Gary the guide standing next to it.

Dogs worked bravely for many years in Northern Ireland alongside soldiers doing search and rescue duties and sniffing out arms, ammunitions and explosives. They are remembered, alongside the men they served with, at this Red Paws memorial which says: Dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives serving with the Army Dog Unit Northern Ireland. It makes special mention of search dogs Oliver and Ben.
Nearby was a special plaque remembering Air Dog Bruce and AES OC45 "Res" who were killed in action - Bruce in 1973 and Res in 1992. It also paid tribute to "all our dogs who worked with us so diligently whilst serving in the Army Dog Unit Northern Ireland 1973-2007 - Guardians of the Night". 

This polar bear was an impressive sight on another World War Two memorial. He is carved out of wood.
There is a special stone memorial to all the animals who served with the civil defence in the UK during the second world war. There were many dogs who bravely searched through rubble after homes were destroyed in the bombing of The Blitz to find survivors, and in some cases, sadly, to recover bodies. This memorial says "remembering all the animal friends who served with such loyalty and bravery". It is placed just in front of a larger memorial for the men and women of the civil defence teams.
Do you know that only one cat has ever been awarded the Dickin Medal? He was called Simon and a sailor smuggled him on board a ship called HMS Amethyst where he boosted morale and also did a great job of killing rats and mice. The ship was one of those caught up in the Yangtze Incident where a lot of sailors lost their lives. Simon was injured but survived.
Gary also told them about the homing pigeons who did vital work in the Second World War carrying messages when there had to be communication blackouts for security reasons. Lots of pigeons were awarded the Dickin Medal including one little chap called Gustav who was the first pigeon to get back to headquarters with a message that troops had landed safely on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

There was also a dog called Judy who went to a prisoner of war camp with British soldiers and survived the war to go safely home at the end.

On the way out there are a lot of "rolls of honours" on the walls which have been saved from buildings after they have been demolished. This final one was made by some carvers who used to make furniture and always incorporated a little mouse somewhere as their little distinguishing mark. So they even popped one on this roll of honour that they made.
Dogs can walk round the outskirts of the Arboretum - which is surrounded by lovely countryside - but not right in among the memorials so I stayed at home with the Man Of The House.

But I felt very proud when the LOTH told me all about it to think that animals did such important work.


Anna the GSD said...

Wow! Those are A LOT of memorials! All very cool! It's always good to remember what others have done. I wonder if Simon is related to the boat kitty?

Sharon said...

What a great place and wonderful animals remembered for their duty! Nice post!

Amber-Mae said...

GREAT post!!!

Amber DaWeenie said...

Such a beautiful place. I especially felt good to see the memorials to the police dogs. A while back an officer and his dog were killed in the line of duty in our city. He was a friend of a friend and we visit his cemetery memorial often. Also, our son is currently a police officer with a K-9 partner (Chase) up in Michigan. We are very proud of them but worried at the same time.

rottrover said...

This was so interesting, Winnie! Thanks for sharing it with us!

houndstooth said...

That is fascinating! I think it cool that they have such a nice memorial for those who have served in so many different ways. I rather like the carousel horse! The artistry that went into carving them was magnificent!


Benny and Lily said...

That place is awesome. Love this post
Benny & Lily

Oz the Terrier said...

Wow! So many animals serving their country bravely. Amazing!

George the Lad said...

I didn't know of The National Memorial Arboretum, and its close to where we live!! Thanks for a very intresting post, I'll go back and take alook at the link.
See Yea George xxx

Anonymous said...

Gosh, what a Most Luvly place! And how very wonderful for humans to set something like that up especially to remember so many special animals. Thank you ever so much for sharing it with us!

Wiggles & Wags,

scotsmad said...

What a wonderful memorial, thanks for sharing it.....

XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

TwoSpecialWires said...

Oh boy, Winnie! We are so glad you found us at Bobby's blog! We're looking forward to reading back and gettin' to know you! We have a special place in our hearts, here in Colorado, for doggies who've been rescued. AND we tend to really like their families, too!

We'll be back. Later on tonight we hope to come read all about the National Memorial Arboretum. We can tell from the pictures that wer're gonna like it (and we're partial to arboretums ... do you know Agatha and Archie? We actually got to go for a walk in THEIR arboretum near Boston, Massachusetts! With Norwood! You'd like those pups!) Anyhow. We've been away from the computer for a while, and we're trying to catch up ... but we've added you to our sidebar so we won't lose track of ya!

See ya soon. (Keep an eye on Bobby's blog!)
Jake and Fergi

Sue said...

Wow! What a fab place.

road-dog-tales said...

This is awesome and sweet and sad - all at the same time. Thanks for sharing it with us. We think the carousel horse is fabulous!

The Road Dogs

Bobby said...

What a very good and interesting post, and how nice to remember the animals that died in the line of duty as well.
Licks Bobby.