6 animals who famously served in the Armed Forces
Cats and dogs who served in the first and second World Wars
Photo credit: The HMAS Australia Story, 1950 and other animal stories – Argus Collection, SLV, Courtesy: Geoff Eastwood
Serving on the HMS Amethyst, Able Seacat Simon (his official title) received the Dickin Medal in 1949 – the animal version of the Victoria Cross.
The story goes that Simon was found wandering the Hong Kong dockyards by a young seaman and smuggled aboard. Simon soon became an integral part of keeping up the morale of the British sailors, as well as tackling an infestation of rats on the ship.
Simon was badly injured during the Amethyst Incident in 1949 but was treated by the ship’s medical staff and recovered. The Amethyst Incident and subsequent escape from the Yangtze made Simon one of the most famous military animals of his time. To date, Able Seacat Simon is the only cat to win a Dickin Medal.
Tiddles the cat on board HMS Victorious.
Unlike other military animals, Tiddles knew nothing other than a life at sea. Born on aircraft carrier HMS Argus, Tiddles served as the captain’s cat and travelled an estimated 30,000 miles on the high seas!
Lieutenant Commander R H Palmer with Peebles on board HMS Western Isles.
In World War II, Peebles served as Chief Mouser aboard the HMS Western Isles. Little Peebles’ job was to keep mice from eating through the rations for the sailors onboard. Not just a handy cat to have around, Peebles was highly intelligent and could shake hands with his shipmates!
Rip among the rubble in Poplar during the Blitz. Photo Credit: PDSA
Rip, the little terrier whose bravery knew no bounds played an important role in the London war-time effort during World War II. Rip patrolled with the Southill Street Air Raid Patrol (ARP), sniffing out survivors in the rubble during the Blitz.
Rob the Collie with his Dickin Medal. Photo Credit: Imperial War Museum.
Collies are more likely to be found chasing sheep around fields, but not Rob the Collie. The working dog from Shropshire was enlisted during World War II and went on to make a jaw dropping 20 parachute drops with the SAS. Rob was awarded the Dickin Medal in January 1945. A children’s book, Rob The Paradog was even written about his adventures!
Judy the Pointer lived a long and eventful life alongside captured Prisoners of War.
Judy, a white and liver Pointer joined the crew of HMS Gnat in 1936. During her time at sea, Judy played an important part in protecting her shipmates, alerting them to incoming aircraft and also raising the alarm during an attack from Chinese pirates.
Following an attack from the Japanese Navy that ultimately sink HMS Grasshopper, Judy managed to find fresh water for the British sailors while stranded on a nearby island. Judy and the rest of the surviving sailors were then captured by Japanese forces, becoming the first dog to be registered as a Prisoner of War in World War II.
Judy would eventually escape along with Aircraftman Frank Williams, who would later become her permanent owner. For her incredible bravery and constant assistance to British servicemen, “Gunboat Judy” as she would be known in the press, was honoured with many awards and would strike up a close friendship with fellow Dickin Medal winner, Rob. Judy sadly passed away in 1950 at the age of 14, along with her medals and a plaque telling her incredible life story.