The Animals in War Memorial is a war memorial in Hyde Park, London. It is located on Park Lane, at the junction with Upper Brook Street, on the eastern edge of the park.
The memorial was designed by English sculptor David Backhouse to commemorate the countless animals that have served and died under British military command throughout history. It was unveiled in November 2004 by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
The memorial was inspired by Jilly Cooper’s book Animals in War, and was made possible by a specially created fund of £1.4 million from public donations of which Cooper was a co-trustee. The memorial consists of a 55 ft by 58 ft (16.8 m by 17.7 m) curved Portland stone wall: the symbolic arena of war, emblazoned with images of various struggling animals, along with two heavily-laden bronze mules progressing up the stairs of the monument, and a bronze horse and bronze dog beyond it looking into the distance.
On May 27 2013, it was one of two London war memorials vandalised on the same night. The word ‘Islam’ was spray-painted on it causing £2,766 in damage and the nearby RAF Bomber Command Memorial causing £6,500 in damage. A 31 year old London man later admitted to vandalising the memorials. The man was charged for a total of 94 vandalism and destruction of property offences carried out over several weeks against homes, cars, memorials and a church causing a total of £56,909 in damage.
Beneath the main header, “Animals in War”, the memorial has two separate inscriptions; the first and larger reads:
“This monument is dedicated to all the animals
that served and died alongside British and allied forces
in wars and campaigns throughout time.”
The second, shorter but larger in font inscription simply reads:
“They had no choice.”
Upon the rear or outside of the memorial are these words:
“Many and various animals were employed to support British and Allied Forces in wars and campaigns over the centuries, and as a result millions died. From the pigeon to the elephant, they all played a vital role in every region of the world in the cause of human freedom.
Their contribution must never be forgotten.”