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The Dickin Medal

The Animals 'VC' for heroism and devoted duty.

The 'Animal Victoria Cross’.

The Dickin Medal has been awarded 65 times since its inception in 1943.

Created by PDSA founder by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals in war. It is a bronze medallion, bearing the words "For Gallantry" and "We Also Serve" within a laurel wreath, carried on a ribbon of striped green, dark brown and pale blue.

It is awarded to animals that have displayed "conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units".

The award is commonly referred to as the 'Animal Victoria Cross'.

She established the award for any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with British Empire armed forces or civil emergency services. The medal was awarded 54 times between 1943 and 1949, to 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses and a cat, to acknowledge actions of gallantry or devotion during the Second World War.

 The awarding of the medal was revived in 2000 to honour Gander, a Newfoundland who saved infantrymen during the Battle of Lye Mun. In early 2002, the medal was given in honour of three dogs for their role responding to the September 11 attacks; it was also awarded to two dogs serving with Commonwealth forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq. In December 2007, 12 former recipients buried at the PDSA Animal Cemetery in Ilford, Essex, were afforded full military honours at the conclusion of a National Lottery-aided project to restore the cemetery.

 The first recipients of the award, in December 1943, were three pigeons, serving with the Royal Air Force, all of whom contributed to the recovery of air crew from ditched aircraft during the Second World War. The most recent animal to be honoured is Treo, a black Labrador, honoured for his "heroic actions as an arms and explosives search dog in Afghanistan".

CATS

Simon

‘Able Seacat’

Dickin medal, Blue Cross medal.

DIED 28TH NOVEMBER 1949.

In 1949, during the Yangtze Incident, he received the PDSA's Dickin Medal after surviving injuries from a cannon shell, raising morale, and killing off a rat infestation during his service.

HMS Amethyst's ship's cat, Simon was found as a stray in Hong Kong harbour by one of the ship's crew.

Known for sleeping in the Captain's cap, Simon got a severe infection from his injuries and died despite the best medical help.

Simon's burial in the PDSA Ilford animal cemetery was attended by hundreds including the entire ship's crew and buried with full military honours.

Simon remains the only cat to be awarded the Dickin medal.

 

DOGS

 

Sasha

Dog

Dickin medal awarded 29/4/2014 (although records also state 29/4/2012).

A British Army dog assisting her handler Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe.

Sasha, based at Helmand province British HQ, was credited with finding 15 IED's (improvised explosive devices) and potentially saving many lives of her Army colleagues.

Sadly, Sasha and her handler were ambushed and shot dead in July 2008.

Sasha and L/Cpl Rowe were part of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute regiment.

PDSAs' own dedicated page: ttp://www.pdsa.org.uk/about-us/animal-bravery-awards/sasha 

Theo 

Dog

Dickin medal awarded 25th October 2012

Springer Spaniel

Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Arms and Explosives Search dog?

Awarded posthumously for gallantry & devotion to duty whilst serving with 104 Military Working Dog Squadron in Afghanistan 2010-2011.

Irma

Dog

Dickin medal

Crumstone Irma, aka Irma, was an Alsatian who assisted in the rescue of 191 people trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with London's Civil Defence Services during the Second World War. During this period she worked with her handler and owner, Mrs Margaret Griffin, and another dog named Psyche. Noted for her ability to tell if buried victims were dead or alive, she was awarded the Dickin Medal in 1945, and is buried at the PDSA Animal Cemetery, Ilford.

Thorn

Dog

Dickin medal

2 March 1945

An Alsatian, serving with Civil Defence

“For locating air-raid casualties in spite of thick smoke in a burning building.”

Rifleman Khan

Dog

Dickin medal

Khan, an Alsatian was lent to the War Office by the Railton family from Tolworth, Surrey in the summer of 1942. He had simply been their family pet.

Considered a "star pupil" by officers at the War Dog Training School, he went on to be assigned to the sixth battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Corporal James Muldoon became his handler.

In November 1944 the battalion was part of the Allied force sent to attack the island of Walcheren in the Netherlands, as part of the Battle of the Scheldt. The island was of strategic importance and needed to be taken in order for the invasion of Germany to take place. Khan and Muldoon were in an assault craft approaching the island by sea when a spotlight came upon them and the boat came under heavy fire. The boat capsized, sending the soldiers into the water. Khan swam to shore and began to look for Muldoon, who could not swim. While still under heavy shelling, Khan swam the 200 yards (180 m) back to Muldoon and pulled him from the water onto the shore. He continued to pull his handler past the muddy shoreline and up onto solid ground, before collapsing next to him.

"For rescuing L/Cpl. Muldoon from drowning under heavy shell fire at the assault of Walcheren, November 1944, while serving with the 6th Cameronians’’.

Rex

Dog

Dickin medal

April 1945

An Alsatian (Bitch) she located casualties in burning buildings & served with the Civil Defence Service.

Jet

Dog

12 January 1945

 An Alsatian (Bitch) she assisted in the rescue of persons trapped under blitzed buildings and served with the Civil Defence Service.

Bing (Brian)

Dog

29 March 1947

 An Alsatian (Bitch) parachuted into Normandy with 13th Battalion Airborne Division.

Antis

Dog

28 January 1949

An Alsatian (Bitch) served with a Czech airman in the French Air Force in North Africa, and helped his master escape after the death of Jan Masaryk

Apollo

Dog

5 March 2002

An Alsatian (Bitch) received the award on behalf of all search-and-rescue dogs who assisted in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001

Sam

Dog

14 January 2003

An Alsatian (Bitch) brought down an armed man and held back rioters while serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 1998; served with The Royal Canadian Regiment on assignment from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps

Lucky

Dog

RAF number 3610 AD

Dickin medal awarded 6th February 2007

 An Alsatian, the only member of a four-dog (Bobbie, Jasper, Lassie and Lucky) team to survive tracking terrorists in Malaya from 1949 to 1952; served with the Royal Air Force Police

Punch and Judy

Dogs

November 1946

Boxers, saved two British officers in Israel by attacking a terrorist

Sheila

Dog

2 July 1945

A Collie, assisted in the rescue of four American airmen lost on the Cheviot Hills in a blizzard after a crash in December 1944

Rob

Dog

22 January 1945

Rob (1939 – 18 January 1952) was a Collie dog who in 1945 was awarded the Dickin Medal, considered to be the animals' Victoria Cross.

He was alleged to have made over 20 parachute descents during the North African Campaign, serving with the SAS. However in 2006, his actions were revealed as being a possible hoax perpetrated by members of his regiment in order to prevent Rob leaving after his original owners requested his return.

Rob was a working dog on a farm in Shropshire until 1942, when his owners, Basil and Heather Bayne, enlisted him as a war dog.

Assigned to the Special Air Service at the base in Wivenhoe Park, Essex, Rob's official designation was war dog No 471/322.

He was used as a messenger and a guard dog. When the troops based there departed for Arnhem in the Netherlands, he was not allowed on the ship and so was forced to stay behind.

Rob received his medal in London on 3 February 1945. The citation read "For service including 20 parachute jumps while serving with Infantry in North Africa and SAS Regiment in Italy."

Rob won other medals for bravery, including an RSPCA silver medal

Following his military service, he returned to his owners in Tetchill, Shropshire. He died in 1952 and was buried on the family farm, marked with a stone memorial which reads: "To the dear memory of Rob, war dog no 471/322, twice VC, Britain's first parachute dog, who served three and a half years in North Africa and Italy with the Second Special Air Service Regiment. Died 18th January 1952 aged 12 1/2 years. Erected by Basil and Heather Bayne in memory of a faithful friend and playmate 1939–1952."

Peter

Dog

November 1945

A Collie, located people trapped under blitzed buildings; served with the Civil Defence Service

Sadie

Dog

6 February 2007

A Labrador, detected explosive devices, which were subsequently disarmed, while serving in Kabul, Afghanistan, in November 2005; served with the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment

Treo

Dog

24 February 2010

A Labrador, located improvised explosive devices while serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in August and September 2008; served with Royal Army Veterinary Corps

Salty and Roselle

Dogs

5 March 2002

Labrador guide dogs, led their blind owners down more than 70 flights of stairs to escape from the damaged World Trade Center in September 2001

 

Bob

Dog

24 March 1944

A mongrel, worked on patrol at Green Hill, North Africa; served with the 6th Battalion Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

 

Rip

Dog

1945

A mongrel, located many victims of the air-raids of The Blitz

 

Tich

Dog

1 July 1949

A mongrel, awarded for courage and devotion between 1941–45; served with the 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps

 

Gander

Dog

27 October 2000

A Newfoundland, saved Canadian infantrymen on at least three separate occasions during the Battle of Lye Mun on Hong Kong Island in December 1941; killed in action gathering a grenade

Judy

Dog

May 1946

The only animal to be officially recognised as a POW.

A pedigree Pointer, helped keep morale high among fellow prisoners in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

Judy (1936 – 17 February 1950) was a ship's dog on board HMS Gnat and HMS Grasshopper before and during World War II. She helped save the lives of the crew of the Grasshopper following the sinking of the ship, and, once captured by the Japanese, helped the men in the Gloergoer prisoner of war camp in Medan.

In the Prisoner-of-war camp she struck up a friendship with Frank Williams, with whom she spent the rest of her life. She was the only dog to be registered as a Second World War Prisoner of War, and survived for a while in the jungles of Sumatra after the guards had sentenced her to death. Following the war, she came to the United Kingdom with Williams.

Judy is remembered in a brand new book of her life and heroism:

Quercusbooks 'Judy A Dog in a Million by Damien Lewis

ISBN 9781848665361

 

Buster

Dog

9 December 2003

A Springer Spaniel, located a weapons arsenal in Safwan, Southern Iraq in March 2003; served with the Duke of Wellington's Regiment

 

Ricky

Dog

29 March 1947

A Welsh Collie, located mines along a canal bank at Nederweert in the Netherlands, despite being injured by one

 

 

Beauty

Dog

12 January 1945

A Wirehaired Terrier, assisted in the location of buried air-raid victims; served with a PDSA Rescue Squad

 

HORSES

Regal

Horse

11 April 1947

Remained calm despite being subject to stable fires in Muswell Hill caused by explosive incendiaries on two separate occasions

 

Olga

Horse

11 April 1947

Controlled traffic and assisted rescue operations following a flying bomb explosion in Tooting; served with the police

 

Upstart

Horse

11 April 1947

Controlled traffic following a flying bomb exploding in Bethnal Green; served with the police.

The citation reads: “While on patrol duty in Bethnal Green a flying bomb exploded within 75 yards, showering both horse and rider with broken glass and debris. Upstart was completely unperturbed and remained quietly on duty with his rider controlling traffic, etc., until the incident had been dealt with.”

 

 

PIGEONS

The National Pigeon Service (NPS) was a volunteer civilian organisation formed in Britain in 1938 as result of representations made to the Committee of Imperial Defenceand the British Government by Major W.H.Osman.

During 1939-45 over 200,000 young pigeons were given to the services by the British pigeon breeders of the NPS.

The birds were used by the RAF and the Army and Intelligence Services, Special Section of the Army Pigeon Service (which was formed in World War I by Lt. Col. A.H.Osman). During three and a half years of World War II, 16,554 'war pigeons' were parachuted onto the continent.

Canister colour code

Pigeons were used by a variety of services and the canisters affixed to their legs were colour-coded to distinguish recipients.

  • Red = US Forces + British Army
  • Blue = US Forces + British RAF
  • Blue with coloured disk = British RAF
  • Blue with white patch = RAF
  • Red with coloured disk = British Special Service
  • Grey = British Special Service
  • Green = British Special Service
  • Black = British Civil Police
  • Yellow = British Commercial

Maquis

Pigeon

October 1945

Brought three important messages from the Continent from 1943 and 1944; served with the National Pigeon Service (Special Section)

 

NPS.42.NS.7524

Pigeon

October 1945

Brought three important messages from the Continent in 1942 and 1943; served with the National Pigeon Service (Special Section)

 

NPS.42.NS.2780

Pigeon

October 1945

Brought three important messages from the Continent in 1942 and 1943; served with the National Pigeon Service (Special Section)

 

Broad Arrow

Pigeon

October 1945

Brought three important messages from the Continent in 1943; served with the National Pigeon Service (Special Section)

 

Billy

Pigeon

August 1945

Delivered a message from a bomber which had been force-landed in 1942

 

William of Orange

Pigeon

May 1945

Held the record time for delivering a message from the Arnhem Airborne Operation; served with the National Pigeon Service (Army)

 

 

Scotch Lass

Pigeon

June 1945

Brought 38 microphotographs across the North Sea from the Netherlands, despite injury, in September 1944

 

Royal Blue

Pigeon

March 1945

First pigeon of the war to deliver a message from a forced landed aircraft on the Continent in October 1940

 

Ruhr Express

Pigeon

May 1945

Carried an important message from the Ruhr Pocket in April 1945

 

 

 

 

Dutch Coast

Pigeon

March 1945

Delivered an SOS message from a ditched aircrew 288 miles in 7.5 hours in April 1942

 

Commando

Pigeon

March 1945

Delivered three messages from agents in occupied France; served with the National Pigeon Service

 

Paddy

Pigeon

1 September 1944

Held best recorded time with a message from the Normandy Operations in June 1944

 

Gustav

Pigeon

1 September 1944

Brought the first message from the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944

 

Beach Comber

Pigeon

1 September 1944

Brought the first news of the landings at Dieppe in 1942; served with the Canadian Army

 

White Vision

Pigeon

2 December 1943

Delivered a message that contributed to the rescue of a ditched aircrew in October 1943

 

Flying Dutchman

Pigeon

March 1945

Delivered three messages from agents in the Netherlands; missing in action on the fourth mission in 1944

 

Navy Blue

Pigeon

March 1945

Although injured, delivered a message from a raiding party in France, June 1944

 

Kenley Lass

Pigeon

March 1945

First pigeon to deliver intelligence from an agent in enemy-occupied France in October 1940; served with the National Pigeon Service

 

Winkie

Pigeon

2 December 1943

Delivered a message that contributed to the rescue of a ditched aircrew in February 1942

 

Tyke

Pigeon

2 December 1943

Delivered a message that contributed to the rescue of a ditched aircrew in June 1943

 

DD.43.Q.879

Pigeon

February 1947

Only survivor of three pigeons released to warn of an impending counter-attack at Manus Island. Reached headquarters in time to extract a U.S. Marine Corps patrol; served with the Royal Australian Corps of Signals

 

 

DD.43.T.139

Pigeon

February 1947

Brought message of foundered ship in the Huon Gulf in time to salvage it and its cargo; served with the Royal Australian Corps of Signals

 

NURP.43.CC.1418

Pigeon

8 January 1947

Fastest flight carrying a message from the 6th Airborne Division from Normandy, 7 June 1944; served with the National Pigeon Service

 

Duke of Normandy

Pigeon

8 January 1947

First bird to arrive with message from Paratroops of 21st Army Group on D Day (6 June 1944); served with the National Pigeon Service

 

Cologne

Pigeon

1947

Homed from a crashed aircraft over Cologne despite injury in 1943

 

NURP.38.BPC.6

Pigeon

August 1946

Made three flights in 1941; served with the National Pigeon Service (Special Section)

 

 

G.I. Joe

Pigeon

August 1946

Flew 20 miles in as many minutes, delivering a message which is credited with saving over 100 lives; served with the United States Army Pigeon Service

 

Tommy

Pigeon

February 1946

Delivered a message from the Netherlands to Lancashire in July 1942; served with the National Pigeon Service

 

Mercury

Pigeon

August 1946

Carried out a special task involving a 480-mile flight from Northern Denmark in 1942; served with the National Pigeon Service (Special Section)

 

Princess

Pigeon

May 1946

Completed a special mission to Crete, a journey of more than 500 miles over sea, with valuable information

 

All Alone

Pigeon

February 1946

Delivered an important message following a flight of over 400 miles in one day in August 1943; served with the National Pigeon Service

 

Mary of Exeter

Pigeon

November 1945

Showed outstanding endurance on war service despite injury

 

 

Acknowledgements & sources:

Our grateful thanks to the PDSA:

http://www.pdsa.org.uk/about-us/animal-bravery-awards/pdsa-dickin-medal 

 

Some of the material on this page was partially derived from

<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_(dog)>

<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_(cat)>

<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Pigeon_Service>

Which are released under the terms of the creativecommons.org/licenses/by-s/3.0/.

 

 

 

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