The Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation Inc. (AWAMO) is a registered non-profit charity made up of community members from diverse backgrounds that have the likeminded aim to recognize the deeds and sacrifices of all animal species, who have given their lives and their loyalty, serving alongside their human comrades in wars and conflicts. AWAMO aim to educate future generations of the deeds and sacrifice made by all animals in service of our nation and seek to give a voice to those who have no voice.
Some of AWAMO’s achievements are:
- Since 2010 AWAMO have established over 35 war animal memorials within Australia and Internationally. The majority of these are at RSLs and military museums, several at parks including Toowoomba's Centenary Park and another at Enoggera Military Camp. The latter is Australia's first ever war animal memorial on a Military Establishment, it was opened by Brigadier Bilton, Commander 7 Brigade in June 2014.
- Since 2010, AWAMO has supplied several dozen K9 care packages for operational dog teams deployed in East Timor and Afghanistan. At the same time AWAMO supplied six dry as a bone dog fleece lined jackets to dogs deployed in winter mountainous terrain in Afghanistan.
- AWAMO opened the Smoky war dog memorial statue at the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital in 2012, it was officially opened by Her Excellency the Governor of Queensland. This featured on the Great South East TV series.
- In 2013 AWAMO introduced the Purple Poppy, sometimes referred to as the "Animal Poppy" to Australia following many other countries using the purple poppy to recognise the sacrifice made by all animals.
- In 2014 AWAMO was approached by Queensland Rotary to help a young quadriplegic man obtain a service dog. He had been waiting three years. AWAMO obtained, for him, an ex Police dog and after a short period of retraining it is now fully certified as a Queensland assistance dog and has significantly improved this young man's life.
- AWAMO President conducted opening address at Australian War Memorial in Canberra to recognise War Animal Day.
- Representatives of AWAMO have conducted appointments and submitted proposals to PNG, French and Turkish embassies to establish Australian War Animal memorials in each of these countries. As a result, in 2016 a war animal memorial was established in Kokoda, PNG with the others slated for the future. AWAMO 2
- In 2014 'Riding for the Disabled' approached AWAMO to assist returned servicemen and women suffering from PTSD. They were able to use funds donated by AWAMO to cover the cost for the ADF personnel to ride for 12 months as well as the cost to TAFE qualify two riding instructors to coach them.
- AWAMO's achievements were acknowledged in a TV segment with Sir Tony Robinson about war animals which aired in March 2015. AWAMO activities have also featured on other national TV programs.
- In conjunction with 7 Brigade, AWAMO have made several donations from the sale of Nigel Allsopp's book 'Smoky' to go to the PTSD program at Brisbane's Army based Rehabilitation Centre.
- AWAMO staff are on the committee of the Army Welfare and Rehabilitation Centre, Brisbane and assist fiscal sponsorship of Service dogs for PTSD veterans.
- In September 2014 AWAMO was asked to establish a war animal plaque and a special war pigeon memorial, the first of its kind in Australia, at the Caboolture Historical Association Village. We also gave fiscal aid to establish a small war pigeon museum within this historical village.
- I n 2 0 1 4 AWAMO worked with SBA Precious Metals to design a set of five War Dog bullion collectables. These are on sale throughout Australia.
- In October 2015 Australia Post made available to the public a series of five war animal stamps in which the President of AWAMO was asked to assist with the design process.
- As a serving Queensland Police Dog Handler, the President of AWAMO was tasked to establish a Police Animal Service memorial for all the horses and dogs that have served the Queensland Police Service over the past 150 years. This was opened by the Commissioner and the Minister of Police in 2014.
- In March 2015 AWAMO obtained a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish two more memorials on behalf of people who worked with, rode or cared for the animals. The first memorial, which was opened on 30th May 2015 was for The Australian Army Veterinary Corps. This is the first and only memorial for the people who saved the lives of tens of thousands of animals during various conflicts. This Corps was disbanded in 1946. The second memorial was for the Indigenous Light Horsemen of WWI. They had no memorial, this also being recognized as an Australian first. AWAMO worked alongside the Mayor of Logan, the Department of Veterans affairs and local Indigenous Elders to erect this monument on the 19th December 2015. For its efforts AWAMO has been nominated for the National Reconciliation Award.
- Between 2015 – 2017 AWAMO assisted in setting up a war dog tribute at both the Melbourne and Sydney Dog Lovers Shows, educating over 30,000 people at each event on the role dogs have played in warfare and conflicts. With the funds raised from these events we sponsored another service dog trained for PTSD companionship and we have likewise sponsored a horse with Queensland Riding for the Disabled for the same purpose.
- AWAMO has produced 7 historical books on war animals and war dogs plus two children's books on war animals. Funds raised by the sale of these books directly support the establishment of memorials. AWAMO 3
- AWAMO opened the first war animal plaque at an Australian School for the Qld Education Department last year at Eaton Hills. This was followed by the opening of a war animal memorial at Glen Innes Special School NSW in 2016.
- AWAMO has partnered with Treloar Roses to rename the 'Charles De Gaulle' rose to the 'War Animal Rose' - this beautiful purple rose is available on-line at www.treloarroses.com.au
- AWAMO has a line of war animal soft toys, these accompany / compliment characters in the children's book 'The Purple Poppy'.
- AWAMO receives no government funding. It funds it education, training and building programs from the sales that its makes of purple poppies and royalties paid by manufacturers of purple poppy merchandise.
- In 2015 AWAMO licenced Great Southern Land Collectables to use the Purple Poppy to manufacture a range of products including lapel pins, key rings, pet tags and many other products with donations from all sales going to AWAMO.
- In 2016 AWAMO approved the launch of the website www.PurplePoppies.com.au which is operated by a supporter. The site exclusively sells purple poppy and AWAMO branded merchandise to the general public and others for direct benefit of AWAMO.
- In 2016 AWAMO jointly co-operated with the World Cheetah Foundation to assist in financing Anatolian herd dogs to protect flocks of domestic animals within the Cheetah reserve. Each dog costs $500 to buy and the same yearly to maintain (AWAMO sponsors 3 dogs). Since their introduction the loss of Cheetahs via farmer shootings has decreased by 90%.
- AWAMO registered as a PTSD provider in 2017. This provides greater flexibility to train and provide assistance dogs. The Queensland Police Service has requested AWAMO to provide four therapy dogs for their needs.
- Perhaps one of our smallest successes but vast in its ideals is the purchase of a STAR, yes AWAMO has its own star. It is situated in the Scorpius Constellation position RA 16.414- Declination -27.06.
- In 2016 AWAMO gifted, as a way of a thank you to our troops, a painting of 8/9 RAR Mascot "Stan the ram". This $4,000 painting was donated by AWAMO to the Regiments museum and featured in the Army News.
- AWAMO donated, to the Australian Army, a bronze resin sculpture of a Light Horseman- approximately 1 meter high to 2/14 MI for their centenary celebrations.
- After several years of consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Military Attaché in Vietnam AWAMO provided an honour board commemorating the 11 tracker dogs which did not return home after the Vietnam War at the Ho Chi Mihn Consulate.
- AWAMO designed and erected a memorial to Police working dogs at the Brisbane central railway station in conjunction with QPS and Queensland Rail to celebrate 100 years of service. This was attended by the Commissioner of Police, CEO QR and Minister for Qld Transport. AWAMO 44
- In 2017 The founder and current president of AWAMO was awarded the ANZAC of the year award for his dedication to recognising the work of animals in war zones.
- On 8th June 2017 the AWAMO President unveiled the ADF War dog medal, issued by Honours and Awards and the Defence Department. This is the very first such canine medal in the world. It was designed by the AWAMO President after years of lobbying by AWAMO.
- AWAMO was able to secure a special riding saddle from the USA Veterans Affairs Dept used for amputee riders. The saddle is being used by Australian Veterans and Emergency Service workers after AWAMO discovered that several police and military veterans in Qld that had lost legs during active service. This saddle was donated to the Qld riding for disabled association for Emergency Service and Defence Force personnel to assist them to learn to balance or to ride again. This is the first such saddle in use in Australia.
- In January 2017 PD York an ex - Queensland Police explosive detection dog passed away. After several years of service in Australia, York had been transferred to the PNG Police to support the ever-growing fight against terrorism. Sadly after 5 years' service there York died. AWAMO purchased two memorial stones to honour York. One went to PNG Police Headquarters and the other to his Police ex- handler in Queensland.
- On 21st July 2017 AWAMO opened the first official International Australian War Animal Memorial in Pozieres, France. This is AWAMO's largest venture so far. The $200,000 AUD bronze statue not only honours Australian war animals but animals from all nations. All funds were raised by AWAMO with NO government funding. The site now being recognised as an international war animal memorial, with other countries taking part in the opening ceremony.
- In October 2017 AWAMO establishing Australia first war animal memorial to Mascots at the Croydon West / Kilkenny RSL sub-branch in South Australia to one of Australia most famous 'Digger'. Digger's remarkable service is remembered as how Digger 'went over the top' 16 times and had been through some of the worst battles on Gallipoli and the Western Front. He had been wounded and gassed at Pozières in 1916, shot through the jaw, losing three teeth, was blinded in the right eye and deaf in the left ear. There are also accounts of how Digger would take food to wounded men stranded in no man's land, sometimes bringing back written messages. AWAMO helped to pay for this memorial to be erected in his honour. Digger was the 2018 recipient of the Blue Cross.
- Perhaps the most important achievement to date for AWAMO is the establishment of the Veterans Canine assistance program, Funded solely by AWAMO. In brief there remain around 20 service dogs that have deployed multiple times to Afghanistan either in service or retired. These are veterans but do not get recognized as such and receive no fiscal assistance once retired from the government. The defence force has no policy to assist them, it relies on the good will of people taking these veterans on once retired from service, at a time and age when they need help. AWAMO has a program to fiscally help pay their veterinary bills and supply food. It is a limited project as alas these dogs will all die of old age within the next few years.
- AWAMO also helped Veterans on the streets, who have companion dogs, by supplying care packages that included bowls, coats, toys, blankets and food.
- AWAMO donated a $1000 worth of purple poppy merchandise to establish Purple Poppies in NZ. It will be administrated and sold by The Waikato Equine Riders Association- then donated to the Kaimanawa heritage Horse Society to aid the local wild horses around Waiouru. A fitting charity due to the location of the memorial and the wild horses running wild within the Army training area nearby
- In Feb 2018 AWAMO President was asked to establish the New Zealand War animal memorial at the Army National Museum at Waiouru, NZ. AWAMO raised funds and purchased a bronze statue from the USA. This memorial honours all NZ war animals and was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and NZDF Chief of Staff.
- AWAMO has letters of support from 3 Australian Prime Ministers
- In 2018 AWAMO became the Australian custodians of the Blue Cross Medal for animal Heroism and Bravery including administering and conducting the selection process for the award here in Australia. The 2018 Blue Cross award winners were "Bill The Bastard" and "Digger the WWI war dog".
- Working in collaboration with Redlands RSL AWAMO supply care packages to operational Military Working Dogs (MWD) in East Timor, the Solomon's and Afghanistan. These contain a few comforts from home, for the handler and dog. Usually made up of a new ball, chew toys, food treats and in the past a winter coat for each MWD in Afghanistan.
- In June 2018 AWAMO opened the New Zealand Veterinary Corps memorial at Massey University as a tribute to the men and women that cared for the war animals.
- In July 2018 AWAMO President was requested to attend the War Horse memorial opening at Ascot , UK as ANZAC Ambassador to war animals. The UK Prime Minister and members of the Royal family attended the several events surrounding the statue opening. Whilst in the UK the President was asked to address staff and cadets at Sandhurst Military Academy. He conducted several lectures and has been asked to provide a thesis on war animals for use at the Academy.
- In consultation with RSL, AWAMO introduced the "We Serve Together" dual red and purple poppy pin. Proceeds from the sale of this pin support Mates 4 Mates Equine Therapy Program and Young Diggers.
- In February 2019 AWAMO where successful in lobbying the Australian federal government to declare 24th February The National Day for War Animals. It recognises all animals past and present in service. The speech by The Hon. MP Mr Scott Buchholz calls on all Australians to pause and pay tribute to animals who have served in wartime and peacetime.
- In Sept 2019 AWAMO introduced the K9 Challenge coin to exclusively fund its Retired Veteran K9 Project. Defence and Emergency services have no duty of care for veteran canines once retired after injury, illness or old age. The cost of care is carried by the owner. The Retired K9 Veteran Project helps pay for medication, veterinary bills, and dog items that aid comfort in their retirement years. They also help with the cost of cremation and honour the K9 with a burial head stone as record and memory of their service.
Special 2020 COVID-19 update of activities
Regardless of the effects of COVID-19 AWAMO had a big year in 2020, here are some of the activities we got up too.
- 2020 AWAMO President attends opening of Australia's first unknown tomb for war dogs at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. AWAMO was instrumental in the concept some 5 years prior and has worked towards its establishment.
- 2020 Sees AWAMO President address Federal Parliament Canberra regarding war animal history and the 24 February as war animal day.
- 2020 AWAMO establishes the New Zealand War Dog memorial at Michigan, USA War Dog Cemetery.
- 2020 AWAMO pays for and designs the RNZAFs 50th Anniversary memorial to honour 50 years' service of military dogs in the RNZAF.
- 2020 AWAMO pays for and designs the new NATO War Animal Memorial at Brussels, Belgium. To honour all animals that have served NATO post WWII to present day. The animal memorial will be sited next to the official NATO service memorial for all soldiers who have served from all countries in NATO Forces.
- 2020 President AWAMO donated books to Wellington and Auckland Hospitals Ronald McDonald house for sick children.
- 2020 AWAMO assists the USA in designing the wording for the Senates Bill to seek recognition of 24th Feb to be names war animal day in USA.
- 2020 AWAMO in conjunction with Blue Cross UK successfully nominated NZ War dog Gunner for the BX Award and Australian Police Horse Chief De Beers with the BX Award.
- 2020 AWAMO provides fund and a bronze plaque to the Darwin war Museum in order to recognise WWII RAAF dog who consistently gave warning prior to Japanese air attacks.
- 2020 France- AWAMO provides a bronze plaque to the battlefield in the Somme were Digger the WWI Australian dog fought and was wounded, after the dog received the UK Blue Cross Award.
- 2020 President AWAMO Nigel Allsopp provides funds, training and equipment including veterinary care and food to the Queensland Police Services first Peer Support Dog. Situated to assist staff during high pressure situations in the Emergency Communications Centre
- 2020 President AWAMO Nigel Allsopp organised for his latest children's book "Smoky" 50% of which are to be donated to the Children's hospital- Starlight Foundation.
- NATO President memorial association contacted AWAMO and given written support to the establishment of 24 Feb each year as war animal day.
- 2020 AWAMO has provided fund for the establishment of Allied War Horse Silhouettes on behalf of UK based War horse association in USA, France, Canada, Australia and India.
Of all our War Animals none volunteered; they were all drafted and only a handful until recent times ever returned home." AWAMO is manned by volunteers and funds it's education, training and construction programs from the sale of its purple poppies. We cannot continue these programs without your support.
“It is our wish that next Memorial Day when we think of all our soldiers who gave their lives in war, please pause a thought for the four legged and winged hero's that fought and died alongside our troops. Hopefully one day we can not only stop sending our sons and daughters to war but our pets too”
Nigel Allsopp, founder & president AWAMO