It’s now just a few days until Remembrance Sunday and 2018 is the centenary year of the end of WW1.
This weekend, we’re remembering the soldiers who have given their lives for their country and those who continue to serve. But did you know that thousands of dogs have played their parts in both world wars – and continue to play a key role in the armed forces today?
In this special blog, we’re exploring the important roles carried out by these incredible creatures, and honouring their memories.
At the start of WW1, Germany had around 6000 trained military dogs and the British Army had just one – an Airedale terrier. Lt Col E H Richardson and his wife believed dogs could be used to carry messages when phone lines were down and runners were easy targets. The British War Dog School was established and Mrs Richardson ran the intensive five week training sessions. Dogs were then used to run messages from the end of December 1916. These dogs were trained under battle conditions, often with gunfire overhead, and with the ability to move 5 times faster than a foot solider, they played a key role. By 1917, France and Britain had almost 20,000 dogs working for the war effort.
The PDSA Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 in the United Kingdom by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals in World War II. 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”.
Rip was a mongrel who was found after an air raid in 1940. He attached himself to a warden and eventually, became his companion. He became a search and rescue dog, digging to alert the rescue services to people trapped below the rubble and is credited with saving the lives of over 100 people. He worked throughout the war and was awarded a Dickin Medal.
In WW1, 7000 owners offered their pet dogs to the armed forces to be used as Guard Dogs and Messenger Dogs. These dogs were trained under battle conditions, often with gunfire overhead, and with the ability to move 5 times faster than a foot solider, they played a key role. By 1917, France and Britain had almost 20,000 dogs working for the war effort.
Judy was an English Pointer and was a Royal Navy mascot. She was travelling on a Navy boat that was torpedoed and all the crew were captured as Prisoners of War. The Prisoners were forced to work in harsh conditions, laying rail track and Judy provided a source of comfort and companionship to her comrades during her time as a POW. When the crew were freed in 1945, Judy received the Dicken medal
Our local community has recently created a stunning memorial to mark the centenary of WW1 from hand painted rocks. We were delighted to see that it honours Stubby, the only dog to be promoted to the role of Sergeant.