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Blackie War Horse Memorial

Memorial to Blackie the warhorse unveiled in Halewood

by Jonathan Kearney

A specially commissioned 2m high sculpture of Blackie, the warhorse who served in the British Army during the First World War, has been unveiled in honour of him and other animals that served. The sculpture, located on Miller Homes’ Wilbury Park – part of the wider East of Halewood housing development – is now open to the public to visit and pay their respects.

The wooden carved statue, created by renowned sculptor Simon O’Rourke, has been three months in the making and now stands as a poignant tribute at Blackie’s grave, which had previously fallen into disrepair before Miller’s involvement.  The wider area has been preserved and enhanced by Miller Homes in support of local residents who campaigned for the grave to be recognised.

The unveiling ceremony, which took place on Tuesday 9 July, was attended by representatives from Miller Homes, Knowsley Council, the Armed Forces and other organisations. This included the Mayor of Knowsley – Ken McGlashan, the Mayoress Ms Anne McGlashan, Knowsley Council’s Executive Director for Regeneration Dale Milburn, Stuart Craig, Managing Director of Miller Homes North West and local historians Heather Charles and Mike Royden. Representatives from Hale Branch of the British Legion were also in attendance, alongside The Royal Artillery Association, Merseyside Aigburth Branch.

Halewood Parish priest, Rev Gareth Morgan blessed the statue whilst Mayor Ken McGlashan shared insights into Blackie’s remarkable service and the deep bond between Blackie and his master, Leonard Comer Wall. Their words highlighted the historical and emotional significance of the day.

Stuart Craig, Managing Director of Miller Homes North West said: “We knew the significance of this special memorial site and have worked with the local community to preserve and enhance it with a beautiful commemorative statue which is open to the public to visit. Beyond delivering much needed homes, we are proud to help shape better places by investing in the communities we build, through supporting local services, charities and community groups.”

To honour Blackie, and other service animals, two purple poppy wreaths were laid at the statue, which is surrounded by a wildflower meadow. The wreaths, placed by Stuart Craig and Heather Charles, were sourced from Murphy’s Army Purple Poppy Campaign, an organisation dedicated to recognising the contributions and sacrifices of service animals, ensuring they are not forgotten.

Blackie served the 275th Brigade Royal Field Artillery ‘A’ Battery – 55th West Lancashire Division during the First World War. His master, Leonard Comer Wall, was a renowned wartime poet who tragically lost his life at Ypres while riding Blackie on 9 June 1917 at the age of 20. Prior to his death he wished for his faithful horse to be buried with his medals if he did not survive the war. Blackie, who passed away in 1942 at the age of 35, was indeed buried with his master’s medals.

The new sculpture is now open for the public to view, offering a place for reflection and remembrance. The statue, along with the enhanced pathway to Blackie’s grave, is surrounded by wildflower meadows, native shrubs, and trees, creating a lasting tribute to the bravery and loyalty of service animals.