The pain experienced by humans and animals as a result of war should never be forgotten. WWI, in which 10 million soldiers died, also resulted in the deaths of 8 million military horses and over 8 million other animals.
They Had No Choice
The ‘Animals in War’ memorial in London has two inscriptions: “This monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and Allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time.” The second, smaller inscription simply reads: “They had no choice.”
The ‘purple poppy’ commemorates the millions of animals who have been dragged into human conflicts, not of their own making; forced to stay, despite their terror at the loud bangs all around them in explosions or gun battles; and then killed or left behind injured or to starve.
Animals Performing Specific Tasks
Horses – used as part of the cavalry; as work horses hauling artillery, equipment, food, water, medical supplies; transporting the dead or injured. Many died from disease, exhaustion, starvation, exposure or cold.
Dogs – used for search or rescue; as guards of ammunition; message carriers; as sniffer-dogs to uncover mines or explosives. The Russians used dogs as living explosives to run under tanks carrying a bomb which then blew up.
Pigeons – used as message carriers; many carried news of downed aircraft to alert rescuers. One flew 22 miles in 22 minutes to bring news of a plane which had landed in the sea. In WWI, 100,000 pigeons were killed.
Mules, donkeys – used for carrying human casualties or ammunition, thus facing the frontline and being killed in their thousands.
Camels, reindeer, oxen, pigs, elephants – used for transportation of heavy loads over huge distances; elephants used in building roads or bridges, lifting heavy loads day after day.
Cats – used on the frontline to sniff out gas.
Dolphins, sea lions – used for detecting mines.
Canaries – used for detecting poisonous gas.
Glow worms – used in guiding soldiers to read maps before going over the top of the trenches.
Other animals – used as companions were applauded for boosting morale.
Animals were kept working despite being ill and weak; continuing through the worst symptoms till they dropped through exhaustion.
20,000 animals per year are still used to test biological or chemical weapons in experiments.
God Loves His Animals
God loves His animals “His compassion is over all that He has made” (Psalm 145 v 9). On the cross He takes upon Himself and shares the suffering and pain of all His creatures (Colossians 1 v 19-20), as “not one sparrow is forgotten before God” (Luke 12 v 6). He is interested in “the whole creation” (Romans 8 v 19-22), which longs for Peace. But He is patiently waiting for us, not wanting anyone to perish and we can speed His coming by repenting and living Godly lives (2 Peter 3 v 9-12). We can trust that God is with them when “unseen they suffer, unheard they cry, in agony they linger, in loneliness they die” (Anon).
God’s Dream Of Peace
The following is an excerpt from Greg Boyd’s article, (God’s Dream for the World) which shows the non-violent nature of God found in Isaiah 11 v 6-9, where God is dreaming of a time when His creation will be entirely free of violence, as was His original vision reflected in Genesis 1 v 29-30.
‘This passage makes it clear that God’s original plan was for the whole creation to be free of violence. This means that all violence among humans and within the animal kingdom is the result of something having gone wrong. As the passage from Isaiah makes clear, what is currently wrong is that our world is no longer “filled with the knowledge of the LORD”.
Through the prophet Micah, the Lord expresses his dream that someday people, “… will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Micah 4 v 3).
When humanity is once again “filled with the knowledge of the LORD”, instruments of death will be transformed into instruments that support life, and people will no longer even be worried about the possibility of war.
What hope this beautiful anticipation of the future gives in light of the persistent threat of terror we currently live under!
In a similar way, the Psalmist declares that God, “… makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire” (Psalm 46 v 9).
Here we see the Spirit of Christ breaking through to turn the warrior image of God on its head! God is indeed a heavenly warrior, but he is a warrior who “fights for peace.” God is not only non-violent. He’s passionately anti-violence!’
Thank you for reading and following our blog! We hope you will ‘like’ and ‘share’ it! Your comments are always welcome! ~Ros