We don't often associate animals with war and acts of bravery, these are mainly attributed to people. But animals are, and have been, important during war times too. In the holiday program of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, you and your children can learn about all the animals and their stories during wars. Many people will be familiar with the story of Simpson and his donkey but there are other animals that have played many different and important roles during war.
There are horses, donkeys and camels who had jobs transporting goods, ammunition and people, often across very dangerous terrains. Dogs could sniff out explosives, find fallen soldiers and carry messages. They even had gas masks designed especially for them. Many animals, some quite surprising, such as roosters and kangaroos, were adopted as mascots by soldiers to provide comfort and inspiration during the hard times of war and its battles. Carrier pigeons also played a major role in ensuring messages were delivered quickly to enable soldiers to act in emergencies. Animals have been known to show great bravery, courage and resilience during war and for this medals have been awarded to quite a few.
Whacko, the cockatoo and Cobber the terrier dog
So come and find out which animals received a special medal, which animal was smuggled into Australia after the war and which animal mascots were popular among Australian soldiers. Then join in some activities for playing and making things - the one hour will go very quickly.
The holiday program, which is free and runs from January 23-27, 2017, will explore stories of these animals and enable children to be immersed in a hands-on play and making sessions. The program is open for children between the ages of 4 to 10 and children must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. The sessions are free but they must be booked prior as places are limited to 15 (children and adults) in each group. To ensure a place you can book online here.
After the session why not take a walk through the Shrine itself? You can see spectacular views of Melbourne from the balcony and wonder through the Galleries of Remembrance to learn more about Australians during wartimes through pictures, uniforms and other memorabilia.