ANIMALS WAR MEMORIAL.
PARK LANE, LONDON
10th November 2023.
Hello, I’m Brough Scott and I am here to tell you about my grandfather’s horse Warrior –
A horse he took to France at the very start of the war in 1914.
And who, in 2014, was granted an Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of all the animals who served and suffered in what is unhappily called “The Great War.”
This is special because Warrior’s is the only award to pre-date the Dickin Medal’s institution in 1943 – and is special to our family – because Warrior was part of our family.
Warrior’s mother Cinderella used to follow my grandfather round like a dog. My mother used to slide off her back and down her tail. Warrior was born next to our home in the Isle of Wight and spent the whole of the rest of his life there.
Except – for a not uneventful interlude between 1914 and 1918 when, if you listened to Grandpa’s reports, Warrior almost won the war single handed.
Over the top, yes, but Warrior’s war was quite extraordinary. He arrived in France in August 1914 and was only back in the Isle of Wight for Christmas 1918.
Grandpa rode him at Ypres, at the Battle of The Somme, at Cambrai. He survived bullets, shelling and getting stuck in the mud at Passchendale.
And then – on March 30th 1918 – he led a 1,000 horse cavalry charge that checked the enemy advance at a turning point in the war.
Exactly four years after that famous charge, on March 30th 1922, Warrior won a race at the Isle of Wight Point to Point and after another ten years he was star of the show at the old War Horses’ parade at Olympia.
In all this Warrior had a presence about him that was an inspiration. Although a high mettled thoroughbred, he would stand still and sure while the battle was raging. Men would look at him and say, “it’s OK, Warrior is with us.”
We have to be careful about overs-sentimentalising animals but perhaps there can be occasional exceptions. “I do not believe” Grandpa wrote in his diary after Warrior’s death in 1941, “I do not believe that he can be denied in heaven the soul that he had on earth.”
So we honour and thank Warrior – as we honour and thank all the other animals who have served and suffered on our behalf in war time.
So many of whom did not have so happy an ending.