A new memorial, recognising military and police animal service, was unveiled at 11am on June 1 at Newtown Park, Toowoomba.
Toowoomba Regional Councillor Carol Taylor has been a vocal supporter of the project and has worked tirelessly with war historian and author Nigel Allsop to see it become a reality. “There have been seven war animal memorials dedicated across the state in the past year and I’m very proud that we can now add Toowoomba to that list,” Cr Taylor said. “It’s been a long time coming, but I’m delighted to see that it has finally come to fruition.”
Cr Taylor said Newtown Park held significant military ties, having served as a base for many American troops on R&R during WW2. “But most importantly, it was a military camping site for the 11th Infantry Battalion, headquarters for the 25th Battalion and Light Horse Association,” she said.
“It’s surprising just how many animals – dogs, camels, donkeys, even pigeons – that have provided such gallant service in all types of conflicts. “A staggering eight million animals were killed in WW1 and WW2, so I think it’s only fitting that we should honour them permanently. There are still dogs actively serving in Afghanistan as bomb detection dogs.”
Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor, Cr Paul Antonio and Member for Groom Ian MacFarlane officially unveiled the memorial at a dedication ceremony at the centre of the park (near the rose garden). The 11th and 2nd Light Horse Brigades, police horses and dogs, military dogs, donkeys, heavy horses, pigeons and Stan the Ram (8/9 RAR Mascot) along with service men and women were in attendance, as were members of the public.
A number of ttudents from Gowrie State School read their essays about animals in military service, and prayers and blessing of the plaque was conducted by Father Kerry Costigan.