Animal Veterans, Lest We Forget

On Anzac Day, we solemnly reflect on the courage of those who gave their service and loyalty to our country. We remember the troops and animals who fought bravely alongside each other through warfare and served our country with bravery and honour.

The 24th of February is the National Day for War Animals in Australia. However, on ANZAC day, we also value and acknowledge the contributions of animals in war.

Donkeys, horses, mules, cats, dogs, birds, turtles and more, all made valuable and often unique contributions, providing comfort, support and helping the troops in the trenches and on the battlefield. Donkeys and horses provided a means of transport, dogs served as guards, pigeons were messengers and many more served as mascots.

The Australian War Memorial has a gallery dedicated to these animals to remember them and their stories.

Feline Friends

Cats were an imperative part of life in the trenches, helping to ward away rats and mice and supporting the troops with their warm, affectionate nature. They were kept as mascots and as pets, their sweet comfort and playfulness helping to distract and amuse the men through the hardships they endured.

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Images courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.


Dogs were utilised in the war as trackers, guards and mascots, alerting their companions to potential threats and helping track down wounded soldiers. Some dogs were even trained to seek out the wounded and deliver them vital medical supplies in addition to providing them with support while they suffered through their injuries.


Sergeant Eric Campbell Lawther pictured with veteran mine dog. 

Carrier Pigeons

Pigeons were used to carry messages when radio communications failed.

The famous Pigeon Q879 received the Dickin Medal for his bravery, having saved American troops – surrounded and outnumbered on Manus Island – by reaching reinforcements stationed nearly 50 kilometres away.


Famous Pigeon Q879 pictured.

Turtle Tim


Tim the turtle was a mascot of the 2/2nd Batallion, pictured here with Captain Michelson in Palestine.



A famous image of a man in Cairo, Egypt 1915 holding a Koala

Simpson and his Donkey Murphy

ANZAC donkeys
Simpson (right) and his donkey Murphy. Image source: Wikipedia

The well-known story of Simpson and his donkey is one of loyalty and camaraderie. An unlikely hero, Simpson was tasked with retrieving wounded soldiers from the battlefield. He used his donkey to transport the injured to the safety of the trenches, and he and his donkey ultimately became an icon of wartime courage. His story is one of many tales that showcase the way in which donkeys were used throughout the war.

Murphy was awarded the RSPCA Purple Cross and certificate of award (1997).

Lest we Forget.