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The Animals' War - Imperial War Museum

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A MAJOR new exhibition exploring the remarkable role of animals in times of conflict, The Animals’ War, runs until April 22, 2007, at the Imperial War Museum.

From the First World War to the present day, animals such as cavalry horses, mules, elephants, camels and horses have been used to transport soldiers and equipment, often in difficult terrain; while pigeons and dogs have carried all-important messages.

Dogs have also guarded military personnel, located injured soldiers, tracked the enemy and sniffed-out explosives.

And as well as working animals, there are those that have been adopted as official and unofficial mascots and pets by the armed forces.

Using photographs, film, sculptures, memorabilia and interactive features, The Animals’ War tells their stories.

Among them are Rob, the SAS dog who made over 20 parachute jumps during the Second World War; Roselle, the labrador who led her owner to safety from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; and Rin Tin Tin, who was found as a puppy on the Western Front and went on to become a Hollywood legend.

And then there’s Voytek, the bear mascot of the 22nd Transport Company of the Polish Army Service Corps who, in 1944, saw action at Monte Cassino; and Simon of HMS Amethyst, the only cat to have been awarded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal – the ‘animals’ Victoria Cross’.

There’s even a pigeon, Winkie, who saved the lives of a ditched aircrew by carrying a vital message revealing their location.

For further information call 0207 416 5000 or visit the website.

b>See also Animals in War Memorial