Regnery History 9/18/18
Simon & Schuster
Animals by national bestselling author Robin Hutton
recounts the experiences of the forgotten members of
the Greatest Generation. Horses, mules, dogs, and pigeons
were all a part of the Allied war machine. They were
messengers, spies and sentinels. They carried supplies
to the front, comforted wounded soldiers, became a POW,
and were a vital part of the search/rescue effort during
the German Blitz of London.
This is Hutton’s second book in the “War
Animal series.” In the first one she recounted
the story of Reckless, a sorrel mare, small for her
size, that joined the Marines during the Korean War.
Employed to help move heavy recoilless rifles and ammunition
across steep and treacherous terrain, she regularly
proved her bravery and endurance, making precarious
trips hauling ammunition to soldiers in need, often
during heavy fire. Once home, news of her promotion
to Staff Sergeant quickly spread, though that notoriety
has since faded. Hutton's passion and admiration for
Reckless is shown when she raised the money for not
one but three monuments to this courageous horse, at
Quantico, Camp Pendleton, and at the Kentucky Horse
In this latest book, incredible and inspiring true stories
are told of some animals who received the PDSA Dicken
Medal during WWII and lesser-known stories of other
military animals whose acts of heroism have until now
been largely forgotten. Founded in 1943, the prestigious
PDSA Dicken Medal is the highest award an animal can
achieve for gallantry and bravery in the field of military
conflict, a Victoria Cross of sorts for animals.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it was decided
the US military needed a war dog program. Instead of
originating from within the military, it was founded
by a New York Socialite, Arlene Erlanger. She was a
poodle breeder and wanted to help the allied effort.
Starting a grassroots movement, she created Dog for
Defense Inc., a volunteer organization that recruited
a canine army, known as the K-9 Corps. Owners of dogs
donated their personal pets to the war effort. The 40,000
animals were whittled down to about 19,000 after the
first cut, but ultimately a little over 10,000 were
chosen. The requirements included, dogs that were between
28 inches tall at the shoulder, and no more than five
years old. Once trained they were put on assignment
with strict secrecy imposed.
Each of these stories will leave readers spell bound,
but the most heartfelt one was that of Judy, an English
Pointer. Chosen as a mascot for a Royal Navy gunboat
she provided a huge morale boost. After some of the
crew was reassigned to another ship, Judy went with
them In 1942, attacked by more than a hundred Japanese
bombers, the ships sank, but luckily Judy survived the
shipwreck with some crew members On March 18th, 1942
Judy and the surviving sailors were captured by the
Japanese and became prisoners of war in forced labor
camps. A new arrival, RAF Frank Williams, took pity
on her and decided that she would be his companion.
He taught her to obey signals and whispered speech,
while she brought scraps of food she salvaged to him.
Transferred to an even more brutal labor camp, Frank
worked up to sixteen hours a day to build railroad tracks.
Williams described her as “a skinny animal that
kept herself alive through cunning and instinct…I
do not exaggerate when I say that this dog, with her
example of her courage to live, saved many of us who
would surely have died.” Liberated in August 1945
by the allied soldiers, she lived with Frank until her
death on February 16th, 1950.
Hutton noted, “When I heard about Judy I knew
she would be the heart and soul of this book. Her story
touched me and it would also touch readers. She was
resilient and became the heart of the POW camp. The
men would say ‘if Judy can make it so can I.’
They persevered because of her and never gave up. Today
dogs are used to help with PTSD and back then Judy was
no different. She provided comfort and security.”
Another brave dog was Chips, a German Shepherd trained
as a sentry who attacked an Italian machine gun team,
sustaining powder burns and saving his handler's life.
He actually received the Silver Star, but it was revoked
in 1944 after a national commander complained. Known
as “Mr. Chips” he was honorably discharged
on December 10th, 1945. Private John Rowell who served
with the canine partner wrote, “We went through
a lot together…he is really wonderful. He saved
my life more than once when things were tough.”
decided “to nominate Chips for a Dickin’s
Medal since he is America’s most decorated war
dog. He received it this January.”
British also started up a war dog program in May 1941,
and asked for citizens to volunteer their dogs. The
War Dogs Training School officially opened for business
on May 5, 1942 at a greyhound kennels in Northaw, near
Potters Bar. Forty recruits were eagerly awaiting training.
By the end of the war some 3,300 had been successfully
dispatched to units across the globe.
But some of the most special dogs were those used for
search/rescue. As the British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill said of the German blitz, “Hitler hopes
by killing large numbers of civilians and women and
children that the will terrorize and cow the people
of this mighty imperial city and make them a burden
of anxiety to the government…Little does he know
the spirit of the British nation.” This includes
the dogs who located buried air raid victims.
Irma is an example of how the dogs gallantly found survivors.
She is an Alsatian that was bred with exceptional intelligence
and a strong devotion to duty. He owner wrote in 1945,
“Irma gave the position of victims under a collapsed
house and although there was some doubt in the minds
of the men who were working on the ruins, excavations
were made. As a result, they discovered two girls, both
alive. This rescue was especially impressive because
Irma refused to give up on the location, and kept returning
to it, even after two days. Only because of her tenacity
did the two girls survive.” Today there are dogs
whose duties are to search/rescue and others that recover.
Irma was a pioneer since she was able to discern if
a victim was alive or dead, and inform the human rescuers
with different barks.
Hutton hopes readers discover the heart of the animals
and ‘how they will do anything for us. They deserve
to be honored because they answered the call of duty.
I have some projects that I hope will do just that.
I am putting together an International War American
Museum in Washington DC where people can learn about
these wonderful animals. I think there should be a medal
of honor for dogs served. Each branch should have a
medal to bestow on these animals. I also would love
to do a war animal TV series that would have two or
three stories with re-enactments showing the role they
had throughout history, especially during war time.”
reading this book people are able to see how the animals
served valiantly. An added bonus, through the animals’
eyes readers are informed about the events that occurred
during World War II.