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Honouring Our Military Dogs

 

Photos by Rob Tysall

Fund raising continues to create a memorial to our wonderful Military Working Dogs. Ann Evans has the details. 

 

Pic-1.-Buster-The-inspiration-behind-the-NMWDM-monument.-Pic-courtesy-of-the-charity
Buster-The-inspiration-behind-the-NMWDM-monument.-Pic-courtesy-of-the-charity

Throughout two world wars, conflict in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and other trouble spots, our Armed Forces with their amazing military working dogs have put their lives on the line. Until now, there has never been a memorial to honour our canine heroes – but The National Military Working Dogs Memorial charity (NMWDM) is striving to change all that.

Established in 2017 by Emma Ward of Holywell and her family and officially launched at Crufts in 2018, their aim is to build a new national memorial in honour of those incredibly brave military working dogs. Emma began the appeal after hearing about Buster an English Springer Spaniel trained as a Royal Air Force Police Arms and Explosives Search Dog. Buster completed five tours of duty in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan with his handler, Flight Sergeant Michael “Will” Barrow. He was the last military dog to leave Iraq.

In incredibly dangerous situations, Buster would work ahead of the ground troops, clearing a safe passage, detecting weapons, hidden explosives and deadly IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) thereby saving countless lives. During his career Buster is credited with saving a thousand lives, both military and civilian. His courage and tireless work earned him medals and honours, and back home he became the RAF Police Mascot – a lifetime honour, proudly undertaking his duties until he passed peacefully in 2015.

 

Pic-2.-L-R-Alan-Scott-fundraiser-volunteer-John-Ward-Chairman-of-the-Trustees-Dirk-Ward-fundraiser-volunteer.-Pic-courtesy-of-Rob-Tysall
L-R-Alan-Scott-fundraiser-volunteer-John-Ward-Chairman-of-the-Trustees-Dirk-Ward-fundraiser-volunteer.-Pic-courtesy-of-Rob-Tysall

The memorial is designed in a compass shape with four bronze statues of military dogs at the four points, representing all branches of the military: the Military Mascots; the British Army; the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force Police. The memorial will cost around £150,000 and be situated in Holywell, North Wales where it will be open to the public all year round.

Acclaimed artist Andy Edwards has been commissioned to sculpt the four bronze statues. Andy of Stoke-on-Trent said, “I am beyond delighted to have been chosen by the trustees to sculpt the bronzes for the National Military Working Dogs Memorial. It is certainly an honour to be working with such dedicated people towards such a deserving cause. I hope to capture the spirit and energy of these incredible brave animals in my sculptures and seeing them incorporated in this new national monument which will be seen and appreciated by so many visitors in the future.

 

Pic-3-Model-of-how-the-monument-will-look
Model-of-how-the-monument-will-look

“This is a unique initiative in recognising the remarkable dogs who have served and in numerous cases given their lives, saving, rescuing and protecting the lives of so many alongside our military personnel over the last 100 years.”

The four individual dogs honoured in these bronze statues which represent all military working dogs are Buster, Theo, Judy and Lucky – you can read their full stories on the NMWDM website.

 

Pic-4.-Buster-and-Will-Barrow-and-book-Dog-Soldiers.-Pic-courtesy-of-the-charity
Buster-and-Will-Barrow-and-book-Dog-Soldiers.-Pic-courtesy-of-the-charity

Trustees and volunteers for the charity were at Crufts in March of this year, and we spoke to John Ward Chairman of the Trustees, who reported that the charity has raised £72,000 plus pledges towards its £150,000 target, which means that work on the infrastructure for the monument, which they expect to be £29,000 could start.

John Ward said, “One hundred percent of the money raised will go to the building of the monument, every penny goes to the charity, the people involved are volunteers. We’re very grateful to our fundraisers and sponsors and would love to hear from anyone who can help in any way.

 

Pic-5-The-NMWDM-logo-on-display-at-Crufts
The-NMWDM-logo-on-display-at-Crufts

One sponsor is artist Jaqueline Hurley, the UK’s foremost Remembrance artist, who donated Devotion to Duty to the charity so it could be auctioned in order to raise money for the Memorial. Jacqueline is best known for her powerful and poignant War Poppy Collection, her tribute to our heroes in the Armed Forces and a remembrance to all those fallen and seriously injured in past campaigns.

Devotion to Duty is particularly poignant as it honours the working dogs which have fought for the country. It has previously been exhibited in the Royal Albert Hall and the National Arboretum.

 

Pic-6.-Alan-ScottJohn-Ward-and-Dirk-Ward-with-JaquelineJaqueline-Hurleys-painting-Devotion-to-Duty.Pic-courtesy-Rob-Tysall
Alan-ScottJohn-Ward-and-Dirk-Ward-with-JaquelineJaqueline-Hurleys-painting-Devotion-to-Duty.Pic-courtesy-Rob-Tysall

The National Military Working Dogs Memorial charity still has a long way to go, and would be grateful for donations, help with fundraising and sponsorship. Find out more on their website:  www.nmwdm.org.uk

Check out Ann’s previous article featuring the bravery of these dogs and their handlers. https://b-c-ing-u.com/general/honouring-our-canine-military-heroes/