Australian Animals at War Print Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Peter Williams
The plaque commemorates the role played by animals in conflicts in which Australia has been involved. 


Address:11 Murphys Road , Wommin Bay Memorial Walk, Kingscliff, 2487
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -28.234409
Long: 153.565574
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Culture


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 10th August, 2016
Front Inscription
Australian Animals at War
The Boer War to Afghanistan 

Australia has always had a strong affilition with animals because of our ties with the land. As early as the 1830s Australia was shipping locally bred horses for service in the British Army in India. The horse bred for such action was the combination of all the horses that were brought into Australia from surrounding colonies. It was known as the 'Waler' and was part Cape Horse, part Timor Pony, part British thoroughbred, part Arab and part Clydesdale. Over 16,000 horses were sent to Africa to be used by the Australian cavalry in the Boer War —  none returned. 

During WW1, horses had a pivotal role transporting troops and hauling supplies, equipment and ammunition. More than 136,000 were sent to Australian troops. Only one returned home at war`s end. As well as providing companionship, dogs were trained to sniff out explosives, find fallen soldiers and carry messages. Carrier pigeons proved essential as a means of passing messages, which were written on tiny pieces of paper and strapped to their legs. The pigeon`s success in reaching their destinations saved thousands of lives and made them the first animals to receive war medals. 

Many soldiers brought kangaroos with them from Australia as mascots and several were given to the Cairo Zoo when the units left Mena Camp to go to Gallipoli. WW2 saw an enormous variety of animals tested for new or different roles many of whom had made brief appearances in the previous war. Elephants, mules, donkeys, camels, birds, cats and monkeys were also adapted for one purpose or another. Again, the horse and dog stood out as Australia`s best animal exports. 

It was the dog however who proved it`s worth in the modern era. Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Timor L`Este, Iraq and Afghanistan saw Australian dogs trained for the most supportive roles in assisting troops on the ground to avoid ambushes and IEDs. In Vietnam and Malaya dogs were mainly tracker dogs (Army) and Air Raid Alert and Airfield Defence dogs (RAAF) but in Iraq and Afghanistan they became really important as Explosive (Ordnance) Detection Dogs and  Combat Assault Dogs.
—Australian animals have served us well. 

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au