ASWA Animals in War Memorial Service 2017

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The ASWA Animals in War Memorial Service 2017 was held on Saturday 13th November at 3.00pm at the Animals in War Memorial in Park Lane, London.  The event is held to remember and honour the millions of animals who have served and given their lives in war.

An Order of Service
Remembrance Sunday

12th November 2017 at 3pm

Animals in War Memorial, Park Lane, London

led by

The Revd Dr Helen Hall

Introduction & Welcome

Hymn: O God, our help in ages past
1. O God, our help in ages past
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

2. Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

3. Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.
4. Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

5. Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

6. O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

New Testament Reading: Revelation 21:1-4

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Reflective Readings:

Tribute to Diesel

A French police dog who was killed in a raid after the Paris attacks in 2015 was honoured with the PDSA Dickin Medal – the animal equivalent to the Victoria Cross. Diesel, a seven-year-old Belgian Shepherd dog, died during an operation targeting the suspected organiser of the attacks, which killed 130 people. The hashtag #JeSuisChien was trending on Twitter soon after Diesel’s death. Diesel died of multiple gunshot wounds during the raid on a Paris flat on 18 November 2015, five days after the attacks happened. She was sent in to check if the area was clear. “She did a tour of the first room, then she went into the second room and dashed forward,” explained Diesel’s handler, “and the gunfire started.” “I had absolute confidence in her, and her in me. Both of us knew how the other would behave in the situation. Major RULP Jean-Marc Lenglet from the French National Police, said: “Diesel’s handler has been deeply affected by the death of his dog, as have many thousands of well-wishers who sent messages of condolence for Diesel who died in the service of his country.” The sad reality is that Diesel is not the only dog to have given her life helping human beings in the midst of violence, danger and conflict. Many others serving with the military and rescue services selflessly put themselves in the way of harm for our benefit, sometimes with tragic consequences. It is not in the nature of dogs to count the cost, their loyalty, trust and bravery is unquestioning. Today, we remember their courage and devotion.

On 23 February 1942, a badly damaged RAF bomber ditched into the North Sea. The crew were returning from a mission over Norway, but their Beaufort Bomber had been hit by enemy fire and crashed into the sea more than 100 miles from home. Struggling in freezing waters – unable to radio an accurate position back to base – the four men faced a cold and lonely death. But as the aircraft went down, the crew had managed to salvage their secret weapon – a carrier pigeon. The blue chequered hen bird, called Winkie, was set free in the hope she could fly home to her loft in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, and so alert air base colleagues to their predicament. During World War II, carrier pigeons were routinely carried by RAF bombers for this very eventuality, though in an era before GPS and satellite locator beacons, rescue was far from certain. Winkie flew 120 miles, and was discovered, exhausted and covered in oil by owner George Ross who immediately informed RAF Leuchars in Fife. The pigeon was not carrying a message, but the RAF were able to calculate the position of the downed aircraft using the time difference between the plane’s ditching and the arrival of the bird – taking into account the wind direction and even the impact of the oil on Winkie’s feathers to her flight speed. A rescue mission was launched and the men were found within 15 minutes. The crew would have died without Winkie’s message coming through. Winkie became the toast of the air base, with a dinner held in her honour. A year later, she became the first animal to receive the Dickin Medal – named after PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin – for “delivering a message under exceptional difficulties”.

A Time to Reflect: Revd Dr Helen Hall


Intercessions: led by Revd Professor Martin Henig

Loving Lord,
We meet together to pray for all creation and especially today for all animals terrified, wounded and killed as a result of warfare. As this memorial reminds us many animals, horses and donkeys, elephants and camels, dogs and pigeons have served and suffered in war. We recall their bravery and faithfulness, their fortitude and love and we ask your blessing on them, for they too like the soldiers, sailors and airmen, and their support staff, like the doctors and nurses were created by you and lived and died in the hope of salvation.
Lord hear us….Lord graciously hear us.

Loving Lord,
As we continue to remember the particular cost played by horses and mules in the First World War, we ask that reflecting on the debt we owe to them, our species should remember their sacrifice and realise that cruelty to horses, betrayed and exported not to war but to be killed as horse-meat is a disservice to the many thousands of horses who died in Flanders for us. May we remember what we owe to them and repay our debt with kindness and love. Lord hear us…Lord graciously hear us.

Loving Lord,
We pray for dogs, who have so often served in war, both in service, detecting mines, and as companions to men and women in peril. We give particular thanks for Nowzad dogs. For dogs which have been rescued, for those who have rescued them from more recent theatres of war. We thank you for the love, generosity and faithfulness of people and dogs, which points the way to a more peaceful world. Lord hear us…Lord graciously hear us.

Loving Lord,
We pray for sea creatures, for the whales and porpoises, turtles, fish and other creatures suffering from naval warfare, from the sounds of explosions, from the pollution caused by maritime conflict. We remember that you made the great whales to sport in the waves, and the ships to sail calmly over the surface. For the sea was to be a realm of peace and not a battleground. We pray for all creatures of the sea, victims of warfare and the testing of weapons. Lord hear us…Lord graciously hear us.

Loving Lord,
Warfare ravages environments and we pray for wild creatures, killed, maimed or displaced by warfare and military activity. The world belongs to you and not to us, and we ask for forgiveness and pray for peace that the world may be restored to the innocence and pristine sanctity of Eden.
Lord hear us…Lord graciously hear us.

And so let us pray for the peace of all creation, when humans will respect and love each other and we will be joined by all animals, by all creation in one great hymn of praise to you, to your son, the Prince of Peace, and to the Holy Spirit. World without end. Amen.


Address: Pen Farthing (Nowzad Dogs)

Introduction to the Act of Remembrance

The Two Minute Silence

‘They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.’

All: We will remember them.


The Laying of Wreaths on the Memorial

The Blessing

Hymn: Just As I Am

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, and waiting not,
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, tho’ tossed about,
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings within and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind,
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thy love unknown,
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

The Dismissal


This Remembrance Service has been organised by
The Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (ASWA)
“Putting Animals on the Agenda of the Christian Church”



Sad loss of Mohan the Elephant

Mohan the elephant

Just over a year ago, we shared the rescue of Mohan the elephant by the wonderful Wildlife SOS India: 

Sadly Wildlife SOS India have announced that he has died.  Here is their memorial to him:

Our journey with Mohan started long before he arrived at the Elephant Conservation and Care Center. For more than a year, his hunched figure, weak and emaciated, had been in the middle of our most complicated and controversial rescue operations — and the fierce legal battle that accompanied them. After a volatile mob thwarted our first rescue attempt, repeated delays pushed back a second one even as the informants we’d deployed to keep an eye on him sent images of a gradually deteriorating elephant that left us all increasingly alarmed with every passing day. The newspapers begin to call Mohan “the world’s unluckiest elephant,” and as hard as we were willing to fight for his freedom, it really did feel like fate had dealt him the cruelest of hands. Five decades of loneliness and abuse after being snatched from his herd and a life of freedom, Mohan’s life of horror seemed like the cruelest of jokes.
By the time we had the legal paperwork to undertake another rescue attempt, we were afraid he wouldn’t survive the rescue and the journey home — this magnificent being reduced to a defeated shell of an elephant. But we proceeded, fearing the alternative was worse. It was the stroke of midnight on the 22nd of September, when Mohan gingerly boarded the Wildlife SOS elephant ambulance. The entire rescue team, hearts racing and absolutely silent, could suddenly breathe again, smiles impossible to control. It seemed as if things were finally looking up for the world’s unluckiest elephant. 

These are the moments from Mohan’s life we’d like to look back on and remember him by: Bewildered but relaxed in the ambulance by moonlight, surrounded by a smiling rescue team, on his way to a better place. His first steps into the rescue center, the entire team waiting for him — in fact, beaming up at him as he tentatively made his way into his new home. His first walk at the center, fascinated by the sensation of grass and mud under his feet, and his utter joy in being able to scratch himself on a tree or toss cool mud all over himself. When Mohan was introduced to our young bull elephant Wally while out on a walk, he seemed reserved, almost wary, at first. But Wally’s exuberance and excitement at meeting a new friend put Mohan at ease, and he walked beside the young elephant, occasionally linking trunks with him and rumbling at him.
Mohan’s interaction with everyone around him, his pleasant surprise at the sensation of his curious outstretched trunk being met with reassuring hands and cajoling voices, left us all in awe of this massive bull elephant’s gentleness. For everything that human beings had done to him, Mohan was not vengeful. The bonds he developed with the staff were always defined by their calmness: Mohan listening patiently as his keeper talked to him while out on a walk, Mohan calm and cooperative as the veterinarians carried out the treatment routines that we hoped would heal the hurt humans had caused him thus far. He was a wonderful elephant to be around, his aura of gentle strength pervading anyone who had the absolute honor of being in his presence. We want to remember Mohan as he stood enjoying the drizzle of the rain on his body, and as he strolled carefree on his walks.
We want to remember Mohan resting his large head against the small human frame of his keeper during quieter moments of introspection and bonding, alongside memories of him lying perfectly still in his pool with the cool calm water engulfing his massive frame. We want to remember moments where he was at peace with the world.

This last month, luck dealt Mohan its final blow. As the abuse he faced his entire life caught up with him, a hairline fracture in his limb escalated into something more serious, his bones and his entire body too weak to combat the injuries.
We were determined to fight on for him, knowing in our hearts that he deserved a chance at a better life, and hoping against all odds that we could help him recover. But today, Mohan let us know that he couldn’t fight any longer, passing away quietly amidst all the concerned and loving faces of the Wildlife SOS staff that has stood by his side unwavering through his ordeal.
The sad fact is that all of Mohan’s life, it truly hasn’t been “luck” that failed him. It’s been people. Captivity and cruelty and the sort of abuse that Mohan endured his entire life had more to do with human greed and selfishness than anything else. Even as we look back on our happier times with Mohan and remember him for the kind, resilient spirit he was, we must also remember what he represented, and the lessons we need to take from his life — that it is up to us as human beings to fight on for him even though he is gone, to never give up on him, and to honor the memory of this majestic bull by doing everything we can to undo the wrongs our race has inflicted upon his magnificent brothers and sisters, until we live in a world free of the cruelty that enslaved him.
It’s the least we can do. Rest in peace, dear friend.