Warrington children’s group remembers the animal victims of war.
Children of the Warrington Quaker Meeting have helped create a striking postcard to raise awareness of animals who continue to suffer and die as a result of warfare. The eight children, together with Diane Furber of Warrington Meeting worked in the creative collaboration with painter Ann Johnson of Eastbourne Meeting, QCA correspondent for Sussex East AM.
Diane introduced the project to the children by first explaining the many roles of animals in war, then describing the remarkable account of military horses in WW1 as depicted through the Warhorse film and stage production.
The children then set about drawing military, domestic, farm and zoo animals as well as birds and other wildlife, representing all the non-human beings affected by war but whose fate is rarely documented. When the drawings were finished, Diane sent them to Ann, who scanned them onto her computer. The prints were enhanced for reproduction purposes and collaged onto Ann’s painting of purple poppies. The resulting mixed media painting, which measures 60x84cms, was then made into a postcard.
This is an enriching example of Quakers of all ages working together, providing both children and adults with the chance to express their compassion for others.
The Purple Poppy of Remembrance, launched in 2006 by the UK campaigning organisation Animal Aid, commemorates the millions of animals who died in two world wars and who continue to suffer and die as a result of conflict. These animals are victims, not heroes. They are among the countless human and non-human casualties of war, whose lives have been taken, yet who remain unrecorded and unremembered. Today, thanks to the Purple Poppy campaign, awareness is growing. In 2006, 1000 poppies were sold; in 2011, more than 28,000 poppies were distributed throughout the UK.
We have had postcards made of this poppy and animal collage and they are available at 40p each, which covers pp. Minimum order is 5 = £2. Please contact the clerk if you would like to buy some – and your Meetings might be interested.
We are pleased to report that Birkenhead CND have bought some cards to add to their display at a local secondary school.
The reverse of the postcard reads:
Remembering the animal victims of war. Mixed media and collage.
A creative collaboration between Warrington Quaker Children’s Group and painter Ann Johnson. Purple poppies, in remembrance of animal victims of war, are available from Animal Aid.
QCA members, together with our friends of other faiths and of none, are starting to prepare for November 11 2012, when we shall, as in previous years, be selling purple poppies and laying wreaths at war memorials around the country. Purple poppy laying is confirmed in Eastbourne, Southport and Birkenhead. For the second year, the children of a junior school in Buckinghamshire will be attending an assembly on the theme of animals exploited in war. In Nottinghamshire, a QCA member will be laying a wreath at the civic ceremony in Nottingham, with the approval of the Royal British Legion, and the Donkey Sactuary will lay a wreath officially at Burton Joyce cenotaph.
Please let us know if you are participating and we can promote your event.
Please see http://quaker-animals.co.uk/2011/remembrance-sunday-reports/ for last year’s events.
Service at the Animals’ War Memorial
On Sunday The 11th Of November – Remembrance Sunday – at 10.30am:
at The Animals War Memorial, Near Hyde Park ( Nearest Tube Station: Marble Arch)
James Thompson, the Animal Padre, reminds us that for the past seven years people have gathered at the animals’ own dedicated war memorial to remember their suffering in conflict; what began with Cynthia O’Neill’s solitary stand – until a lowly man and a dog joined her – has evolved into a most impressive gathering. Hymns have been sung; wreaths and flowers blest; the national two minutes’ silence has been faithfully observed during it; and – weather permitting – there has been much enjoyable fellowship to follow.
James handed over the reins last year to a fellow priest, so that he would continue the tradition of including animals in the nation’s two minutes silence.
There is an afternoon service arranged, but James reminds us that the Morning Service will go ahead as planned at 10.30am.
Please pass the word around especially to London-based friends, and do try to come along and join in.
REMEMBERING THE FORGOTTEN WARHORSES
The Purple Poppy of remembrance, launched in 2006 by the UK campaigning organisation Animal Aid, commemorates the millions of animals who died in two world wars and who continue to suffer and die as a result of conflict. These animals are not heroes. They are among the countless human and non-human victims of war, whose lives have been taken, yet who remain undocumented and unremembered. Today, thanks to the Purple Poppy campaign, awareness is growing. In 2006, 1000 poppies were sold; in 2011, more than 28,000 poppies were distributed throughout the UK.
In the first few weeks of 1914, 200,000 horses were shipped to the Western Front. To maintain this number, the military needed to purchase around 15,000 more horses each month. In WW1 alone, an estimated eight million horses, mules and donkeys died. After the war ended, thousands were left behind overseas and sold off to hard labour. Many others were abandoned, some having had their tendons slashed, so they would be of no use to ‘the enemy’.
Official records of the injury, death and abandonment of military animals are hard to locate. However there are numerous eyewitness accounts to be found on the internet. The following account from the ww2talk.com website relates an incident from Dunkirk, May 1940 and illustrates how horses were perceived as machines: “Just before we moved off a French Cavalry regiment filed into the Chateau grounds at WULVERINGHEM to water and feed their horses, we thought. They led them round to the back of the Chateau from where we heard a crackling noise at intervals and soon men began to return dismounted. They were shooting their horses in batches. This could be thought consistent since we were to destroy our vehicles before entering the perimeter, but a cavalryman’s horse was one of his weapons, there was still fighting to be done and all personal weapons were to be taken into the perimeter.”
Throughout history many kinds of animals have been used by military forces. An estimated 5000 working dogs were taken by US forces to the Vietnam war for mine, ambush and booby trap detection. Of those that didn’t die, it is believed only around 200 were returned home. When troops withdrew and the dogs became ‘surplus military equipment’ they were euthanized, handed over to the South Vietnamese or abandoned.
Military use of animals extends well beyond conflict zones. The Animal Aid archive reveals that, in 1946 near Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific, 4000 animals, including sheep and goats, were set adrift in a small boat. An atomic blast was detonated above them so as to gauge the effects of such an attack. All were either killed or badly burned. The military referred to the test as ‘The Atomic Ark’.
The use of animals as military tools now extends to dolphins and sea lions who endure long flights in water-filled sleeves to war zones across the world. The dolphins are controlled through food deprivation. When searching for mines, they are fitted with ‘Anti-Foraging Devices’ – pieces of Velcro wrapped around their snouts preventing them from opening their mouths and catching fish. Only if they return to base will they be able to eat.
Animal suffering runs parallel to the evolvement of grotesque forms of modern weapon design. In the UK alone, an estimated 20,000 animals, including sheep, goats, mice, rats, guinea pigs, monkeys, dogs and cats, are killed each year in arms, biological and chemical weapons experiments.
Like human civilians, non-human beings are ‘collateral’ casualties of warfare. Domestic and farm animals are abandoned, injured and killed. The enormous impact on wildlife in war zones is rarely, if ever, documented. Zoo animals also suffer. They are frequently abandoned and die of thirst and starvation; sometimes they are destroyed through military action and, occasionally, through casual target practice.
And let us not forget that, regardless of protests from the public, the Ministry of Defence continues to spend taxpayer’s money on ceremonial ‘bearskin’ headgear. It can take the whole hide of one bear to make just one cap, yet despite the availability of faux-fur options, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) persists in supporting the inhumane slaughter of wild bears. The animal campaigning organization PETA continues to demand that the MoD “Spare the bears”.
On Remembrance Sunday in November, the simple act of wearing of a purple poppy and the laying of just a single purple wreath amongst a swathe of red is a powerful gesture of peace and compassion in the culture of war and remembrance.
Poppies and wreaths can be purchased direct from Animal Aid. All profits are ploughed back into the campaign and in helping raising awareness of experiments on animals, including those developing weapons.
This is an edited version of an article which first appeared in Abolish War, the newsletter of the Movement for the Abolition of War.
QCA is grateful to Ann and to Lesley Docksey, Newsletter Editor of Abolish War, for their kind permission to reprint.