Driving up to town today, via Hyde Park, I was struck by a status by the side of the road on Park Lane. It’s striking – there’s a full statue of a mule, a carving of an elephant, a dog and some other animals. A quick search shows what it is – a memorial to the hundreds of animals that served and died during various wars, with a special note to the 60 who have won the equivalent of the Victoria Cross. Who’d have thought?
The BBC has the full story. They tell of:
– 54 animals – 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, three horses and a cat – commended for their service in World War II. Among these heroes were:
– Rob, a para-dog who made more than 20 parachute drops while serving with the SAS on top-secret missions in Africa and Italy.
– Ricky, a canine mine-detector who continued with his dangerous task of clearing a canal bank in Holland despite suffering head injuries.
– Winkie, a pigeon that flew 129 miles with her wings clogged with oil to save a downed bomber crew.
– Mary of Exeter, another pigeon, which flew back with her neck and right breast ripped open, savaged by hawks kept by the Germans at Calais.
– Search and rescue dogs, Beauty, Peter, Irma and Jet, who located survivors buried in the debris of the London Blitz.
– Metropolitan Police horses, Olga, Regal and Upstart, who faced their fear of fire and the hail of flying bombs.
Perhaps the only odd thing is that it’s in the centre of a busy traffic island – along one of the few stretches of road in London where you can do 40mph on each side. It makes it eye catching as you make the right turn towards Bond Street, but perhaps not the easiest place to visit for a closer look.