At 11am on Friday 14th November 2014, two representatives from The Donkey Sanctuary will be standing with others for 2 minutes' silence at the Animals in War Memorial in Park Lane, London to remember the animals which gave and continue to give their lives in war and areas of conflict.
Major Nicola Housby-Skeggs from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment will open the memorial service by reading Henry Chappel's moving poem "A Soldier's Kiss" before Adrian Burder, Chief Executive of the Dogs Trust, welcomes all those who have gathered.
A Soldier's Kiss
Only a dying horse! pull off the gear,
And slip the needless bit from frothing jaws,
Drag it aside there, leaving the road way clear,
The battery thunders on with scarce a pause.
Prone by the shell-swept highway there it lies
With quivering limbs, as fast the life-tide fails,
Dark films are closing o'er the faithful eyes
That mutely plead for aid where none avails.
Onward the battery rolls, but one there speeds
Heedlessly of comrades voice or bursting shell,
Back to the wounded friend who lonely bleeds
Beside the stony highway where he fell.
Only a dying horse! he swiftly kneels,
Lifts the limp head and hears the shivering sigh
Kisses his friend, while down his cheek there steals
Sweet pity's tear, "Goodbye old man, Goodbye".
No honours wait him, medal, badge or star,
Though scarce could war a kindlier deed unfold;
He bears within his breast, more precious far
Beyond the gift of kings, a heart of gold.
This year's event follows a different format to previous years with guest speakers in order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of First World War and to mark the 10th anniversary of the official opening of the Animals in War Memorial.
- Pen Farthing - Animals in War
- Harbinder Singh - A king in Every Saddle: Reflections on the Indian Cavalry in WW1
- Elis Hart - The Mercy Dog (Queensbridge Primary School, Hackney)
- Chiara Batten - The Sacrifice (St Mary's Primary School, Beckenham)
- Jilly Cooper - The Continuing Heroism of Animals in the 21st Century
Laying of wreaths
The following charities will lay a wreath when called by name:
- Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
- Blue Cross
- British Mule Society
- Brooke Hospital for Animals
- Cats Protection
- Dogs Trust
- The Donkey Sanctuary
- Greyhound Rescue Wales
- Irish Draught Horse Association (GB)
- Horse Trust
- Irish Terriers
- Jarjeer Mules
- The Kennel Club
- Nowzad Dogs
- People's Dispensary for Sick Animals
- Petplan Charitable Trust
- Royal Army Veterinary Corps
- Royal Pigeon Racing Association
- Retired Greyhound Trust
- Redwings Horse Sanctuary
- Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals
- The Welsh Pony and Cob Society
- World Horse Welfare
This year the remembrance gathering has been organised by the Dogs Trust and Petplan Charitable Trust with special thanks to the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and the 1914 Sikhs Platoon, their patron Major General Peter Davies and Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler CBE Commander 143 (West Midlands) Brigade.