The British, Commonwealth and Allied forces enlisted many millions of animals to serve and often die alongside their armies. These animals were chosen for a variety of their natural instincts and vast numbers were killed, often suffering agonising deaths from wounds, starvation, thirst, exhaustion, disease and exposure.
Airedale Terriers were taught to use gas masks as part of their military service. Click the photograph for more information.
British soldiers training a carrier pigeon. Click the photograph for more information
Elephants, camels, oxen, bullocks, cats, canaries, even glow worms — all these creatures, great and small, contributed their strength, their energy and their lives in times of war and conflict to the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces during the 20th century.
Found wandering around a Hong Kong dockyard in 1949, Simon the cat was taken in by the Royal Navy sloop HMS Amethyst. Click the photograph for more information
Treo (c. 2001 - 2015) was a black Labrador Retriever-English Springer Spaniel crossbreed and a retired Arms and Explosives Search dog with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. He was awarded the Dickin Medal (considered the equivalent of a Victoria Cross for animals) in February 2010. The military nominated Treo for the award in recognition of his help uncovering a number of improvised explosive devices (IED) during his time serving in Helmand Province, an insurgency hot spot, in 2008. Treo was the medal's 63rd recipient.
The LOL Foundation are proud to be in support of this venture. All monies raised from ARA fundraising, lapel pin sales and their memorial gallery are donated to
Disaster dogs/mountain rescue animals.
Guide dogs/puppy training.
Therapy animals. Click here to learn more
Disaster Dogs - Mountain Rescue Animals.
Guide Dogs - Puppy Training.
Born in Ireland and purchased by the army in 1967 for the Household Cavalry, this 16hh black gelding with a white blaze and four white socks was known for his bold and wilful character. Quite head-strong at times, Sefton was at his happiest grazing in the fields amongst his horsey friends.
One of these friends was stunning 16.1 hh, grey gelding, Echo, the Metropolitan Police horse who carried the marks of the infamous attack with a piece of shrapnel embedded in his side. Echo had made a good recovery from his wounds but was unable to continue with his duties as the explosion had made him nervous of traffic and crowds and was retired to The Horse Trust in 1983. He was the most sweet natured and amiable of horses and contentedly lived at the sanctuary for 20 years until his death from recurring colic in December 2003 at the age of 33.
Sefton did not return to regimental duties for some time but was a horse very much in demand by the public. One of his first appearances was at the Horse of the Year Show in October 1982 where he was joined by Echo which immediately brought the audience to a standing and emotional ovation. Sefton’s last ceremonial outing was at The Queen’s Birthday Parade in June 1984 and he was then retired to The Horse Trust at the age of 21.
At the time of the bomb blast Sefton had suffered 38 penetrating wounds in his body and a piece of metal had severed a main artery in his neck. It was a miracle of expert and prompt veterinary attention which saved Sefton’s life but he required further surgery and 3 weeks later was moved to the Veterinary Hospital of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) at the Defence Animal Centre (DAC) Melton Mowbray where more pieces of metal were removed.
After enjoying his retirement Sefton passed away in 1993 and it was only fitting that he should be buried at the DAC at Melton.
The carnage left by the nail bomb, 20th July 1982.
On 20 July 1982 at 10.40am Sefton was en route to the traditional Changing of the Guard, with 15 other horses from his regiment. A car-mounted nail bomb planted by the IRA detonated on South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park, hitting the formation of horses and riders from the Blues and Royals.
Two soldiers were killed on the scene, with two further soldiers dying of their wounds later. The blast injured all the horses, seven of them so badly that they were shot on the scene to relieve their suffering. Sefton and eight of his stablemates also sustained injuries, although Sefton's were the most serious of the surviving horses. A second explosion that occurred under a bandstand two hours later in Regent's Park killed another seven soldiers.
Sefton's injuries were serious: they included a severed jugular vein, wounded left eye, and 34 wounds over his body.
Sefton endured 8 hours of surgery – a record length for horse surgery in 1982. Each of his 34 wounds were potentially life-threatening; some included dislodging shrapnel from bone. That evening after surgery the veterinary surgeons gave him a 50/50 chance of surviving the shock and extreme blood loss. Over the next months he made continual progress and his nurse was quoted "He took everything in his stride".. During his time in the hospital he received huge quantities of cards and mints; donations exceeding £620,000 were received to construct a new surgical wing at Royal Veterinary College which was named the Sefton Surgical Wing
Sefton looking at all the tributes left for him and those killed/wounded in the bombing. His donations alone were in excess of £620,000.
Sefton in his stable in 1983 recovering from his wounds.
Shadow The Wonder Dog
Here at The LOL Foundation we have our very own 'Wonder Dog' called Shadow.
Shadow is an inspiration to all who meet him and has proven he is a valuable member of our team.
Not so long ago a few of the volunteers and a couple of team members were on a sponsored walk in the Lake District.
A few wrong map decisions turned an 11 mile walk into a 36 mile hike and almost into a disaster. Shadow took the lead and through dense fog and pouring rain he managed to find a pathway that enabled all involved to find a safe haven at the bottom of the mountain.
He makes us so very proud and now he's a keen and 'much needed' member of all our sponsored walks!
Sefton being honoured 'Horse Of The Year' in 1982.
War Animal Links
World War One - Animals In War.
BBC - World War One.
Images For Animals In War.
The Atlantic.com - Animals Of War.
More Military Animal Mascots.