The 11th day of November is Remembrance Day here in Canada. A day where we all remember the men, women and animals that fought for us so we could live free. We owe our lifestyle to these brave men, women and animals. Some died, some were physically scarred and all would never be the same again. War takes a hefty toll but these great heroes faced evil incarnate for the rest of us. We are humbled by their loyalty to our country.
Along with horses and dogs, the list of types of animals employed in war is extensive, from birds and rodents sent into tunnels to detect poisonous gas to donkeys, reindeer and elephants used to carry heavy loads. Animals have also been kept by military units as pets and mascots, offering comfort and companionship and helping to boost morale among troops. Cats have often fallen into this category, though they have also served by catching rats on ships and carrying messages around their necks onto the battlefield.
Individual animals have also been honoured. The Dickin Medal, also known as the animals’ Victoria Cross, was established in 1943 to recognize animals who had shown “conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units.” From 1943 to 1949, 54 animals received the medal. Amongst them were dogs, horses and one cat, but the majority of recipients were carrier pigeons. With a good sense of direction and the ability to fly up to 100 kilometres an hour, these animals flew through difficult weather conditions and direct gunfire to deliver important messages, saving lives as a result.
The two preceding paragraphs are quotes from the BCSPCA Newsletter.
During the 11th. month of the 11th. day of the 11th. hour we cease all activity and chatter, bow our heads for 1 minute and honour those that have given the supreme sacrifice for us.