During World War II, Maria Dickin, the sole founder for the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), a veterinary charity, was touched by animals used during wartime and how it affected them. She then instituted the PDSA Dickin Medal. This is the animal equivalent to the Medal of Bravery or Victoria Cross to display the extraordinary bravery and valor displayed by certain animals during periods of extreme warfare. Police dogs, horses, guide dogs, and carrior pigeons have all been awarded the medal. Here are ten impressive animals awarded the Medal of Bravery.
Winkie, a carrier pigeon, was awarded the medal for its dramatic flight for help across the North Sea. The desperate crew of a downed bomber would have perished if it were not for the heroics of this single pigeon.
Diesel, a French police dog, was only recently awarded the Dickin medal following the 2015 Paris attacks – where 130 people were killed by terrorists. The Belgian shepherd was a part of the operation to catch those behind the massage, but drew fire from within a building, dying from numerous gunshot wounds.
Sometime during the Chinese civil war of 1949, a British Navy ship was captured and trapped in a siege that cost the lives of 17 Marines and injured their ship’s cat, Simon. Simon was wounded by shrapnel, but continued its duty of keeping rats from the food supplies and being a moral booster for the men.
Paddy, an Irish pigeon trained for military service in the RAF, was like thousands donated for service. However, Paddy was entrusted with a message that had critical information during the D-Day Operations of June 1944. This pigeon delivered the message in the fastest time recorded.
Khan was a German shepherd belonging to the Railton family of Surrey. During World War II, Khan served with the military as an explosive sniffer under the rank of rifleman. Lance Corporal Jimmy Muldoon, Khan’s handler, was beginning to drown after his boat tipped from heavy machine gun fire. Khan rescued the man, pulling him to safety.
Warrior was the name of a heroic war horse that served during World War I. He became known amongst the troops as “the horse the Germans couldn’t kill.” Warrior, despite being wounded from machine guns and mortars, returned home after the war.
Lucca, the first ever US military dog to receive the Dickin award, which is a European award, was a bomb-sniffing shepherd who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. During a battle in Afghanistan, Lucca detected a makeshift bomb, but a second exploded underneath her. She lost her leg and was badly burned. Her handler survived the attack and carried her to safety.
Gander, a large Newfoundland dog and unwanted pet, served with the Royal Rifles in 1941 to protect Hong Kong Island from the Japanese. Gander would follow the soldiers into battle, driving off enemy patrols from wounded soldiers, protecting the island, and even grabbed a live grenade and moved it away from soldiers.
Roselle, a yellow Labrador and guide dog, managed to guide her owner and 30 other survivors of the 9/11 attacks down over 1,000 steps into a subway station and to safety, away from the North Tower. The South Tower collapsed while she led everyone to safety, but she ignored the sound, smoke, and devastation to rescue everyone.
Judy, a ship mascot and purebred English pointer, was aboard the HMS Grasshopper, a gunship, during World War II. After days without water after escaping a battle, Judy dug up freshwater for the survivors who had been stranded on the sand. They were then captured by Japanese soldiers. The Japanese beat the dog with their rifle butts, starving and beating her whenever she would attack, which happened every time they beat a prisoner.
Judy then went on to survive a second shipwreck after they escaped from the prison camp. She helped several men make it to shore.