In mem­ory of the for­got­ten army of mil­lions of an­i­mals

The Morning Bulletin - - REMEMBRANCE DAY - CHRIS­TINE MCKEE Chris­tine.Mckee@cap­ The pur­ple poppy is a sym­bol of re­mem­brance for an­i­mals that served dur­ing wartime. It was cre­ated in 2006 as an al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional red re­mem­brance poppy.

EMU Park’s An­zac com­mem­o­ra­tive precinct has a new ad­di­tion with a plaque laid in hon­our of the an­i­mals who gave their lives in war.

Yes­ter­day, Cliff Gorm­ley laid the beau­ti­fully crafted plaque in hon­our of the an­i­mals and in mem­ory of his wife Carmel, who died be­fore her dream be­came re­al­ity.

Mrs Gorm­ley grew up in Emu Park and the cou­ple were mar­ried for 50 years when she died in 2009.

“The idea be­longs to her. She loved all an­i­mals and I’m car­ry­ing on what she started,” Mr Gorm­ley said.

Mrs Gorm­ley first con­ceived the idea for a per­ma­nent trib­ute to the an­i­mals of war in 2005. On An­zac Day 2015, Mr Gorm­ley and his son Greg ful­filled a prom­ise to her and re­leased two pi­geons with a mes­sage of thanks, com­pas­sion and love to the men, women and an­i­mals who served dur­ing the war.

“When Carmel died, I promised to see her vi­sion be­come a re­al­ity,” he said.

The Gorm­ley fam­ily shares a life­long love for pi­geon breed­ing and rac­ing, and Mr Gorm­ley be­lieves that with­out pi­geons the Al­lies would have lost the war.

“They saved thou­sands of lives. When ev­ery­thing was bro­ken down, they had the pi­geons,” he said.

“If the bombers and boats got into trou­ble, they had pi­geons to send a mes­sage, all in code so if they were shot down they couldn’t read the code and pi­geons couldn’t talk. When our fel­lows were in trou­ble, it was al­ways the pi­geons that pulled them out with the mes­sages. They flew through heavy fire and storms.”

Two Aus­tralian pi­geons were awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross but for the most part, their con­tri­bu­tion went un­no­ticed by the gen­eral pub­lic.

“Carmel would be so proud now the an­i­mals are be­ing recog­nised af­ter 100 years. We can thank Nigel for that,” Mr Gorm­ley said.

Nigel is Mr Gorm­ley’s friend, Snr Con­sta­ble Nigel All­sopp, a po­lice dog han­dler and Aus­tralia’s fore­most au­thor­ity on mil­i­tary an­i­mals.

This year he was hon­oured as Queens­land’s 2018 An­zac of the Year for his work as the founder and di­rec­tor of the Aus­tralian War An­i­mal Me­mo­rial Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

In his book, A Cen­te­nary of Aus­tralian An­i­mals at War ,he says Aus­tralia’s four-legged and winged dig­gers had faith­fully served the Aus­tralian De­fence Force for many years as trans­port, sen­tries, mes­sen­gers and more, with­out com­pen­sa­tion or recog­ni­tion.

“These gal­lant an­i­mals have more than earned the right to be fully recog­nised in Aus­tralia for their ser­vice,” he said.

Many Aus­tralians are fa­mil­iar with the leg­endary Light Horse Bri­gade and Simp­son’s Don­key, but the army of horses, mules, don­keys, pi­geons, cats, dog and camels de­ployed across the world dur­ing WWI was nine mil­lion strong.

Snr Sgt All­sopp said pi­geons had unique ad­van­tages in that they were silent and dif­fi­cult to in­ter­cept, and they were not sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected by gas or bat­tle­ground noise.

They could also be trained to home to mo­bile lofts as the tac­ti­cal sit­u­a­tion re­quired.

The sug­ges­tion to use pi­geons to carry mes­sages was ini­tially laughed at, but they proved in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful with a 95-per cent suc­cess rate, sav­ing thou­sands of lives.

For Mr Gorm­ley, yes­ter­day was both a happy and sad oc­ca­sion.

“I’ve worked hard to make this hap­pen since Carmel died,” he said.

“It’s all a re­al­ity now.”

Photo: Chris Ison ROK140515cpi­geon2

PROM­ISE FUL­FILLED: Cliff Gorm­ley march­ing with a pi­geon dur­ing the cen­ten­nial Emu Park An­zac Day pa­rade in 2015.

A young Carmel Gorm­ley who had a life­long love of an­i­mals.

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