With Remembrance Sunday tomorrow The Guardian’s Ian Jack reported on his walk around the war memorials at Hyde Park, giving his verdict on form, content and overall impressions.
Ian Jack’s general verdict was that all the memorials created in recent times lacked the simple but poetic grandeur of those memorials created further back in the past, saying that Lutyens’ Cenotaph and Jagger’s Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner were head and shoulders above the rest. The point being that they avoided representations of victory, heroism, and religious symbolism, possibly because they had lived during the deadening horrors of a world war.
One honourable exception to Jack’s dismissal of the modern memorials was the Animals in War memorial on the central reservation along Park Lane near Marble Arch.
Here it should be pointed out that both the chairman of the Marjan Centre board, Major-General Peter Davies, CB, as well as a member of the Advisory Panel, Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, OBE, were responsible for both raising the money (£2million) to get the memorial built and steering it to completion. In addition memorial trustee, Jilly Cooper, OBE, has written a book ‘Animals in War’.
As Ian Jack notes: ‘a procession of the species that armies have used to carry supplies or haul guns, or fly messages or kill vermin, marches across a frieze: elephants, camels, horses, bullocks, donkeys, a flight of pigeons, a dog, a cat. The inscriptions praise “all the animals that served and died alongside British and allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time … they all played a vital role … in the cause of human freedom”. Elsewhere, in larger letters, are the words: “They had no choice.”
Jack ends by asking: ‘never mind the cause of human freedom – what about their selfless work meeting the human appetite? Doesn’t that demand a memorial the height of the Eiffel Tower outside every abattoir’? Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre. Here are the links:
1: Ian Jack’s article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/09/remembrance-day-time-honour-memorials
2: Animals in War memorial: