“Animals at war, a continuation”

Gander picked up a grenade in his mouth and carried it away, being killed instantly when it exploded. It was said of him that “He had seen many grenades explode in the days leading up to that moment. He saw something dangerous, and took it away from his friends.”

Jeff Goodall “Fight Back”: Canada Free Press, November 25th, 2002.

Several friends who read my columns have asked me about the picture of the kitten sitting on an artillery shell, which illustrated my November 11 column, Animals at war. The picture can be found by doing a search under animals at war and selecting the site Photos of the Great War. There are several more animal pictures, plus others relating to the war itself. This site is excellent for parents wishing to educate their children. Also of interest is the site Animals with war medals, which can be found by doing a search under that name.

The latter includes many interesting stories, including that of Beauty, a wire-haired terrier belonging to the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) who was honoured for locating other animals buried in bombed-out buildings during the Blitz. Amongst other things, Beauty was granted “The freedom of Holland Park and all the trees therein.” During the Yangtse incident of 1949, in which HMS Amethyst was caught upriver by Communist artillery while trying to evacuate British citizens caught between the warring sides, Simon the cat fought relentlessly against the rats pilfering the ship’s food supplies, and together with the ship’s dog Peggy provided comfort to the wounded. The captain wrote of Simon “His presence on the ship, together with Peggy the dog, was a decided factor in maintaining the high level of morale of the ship’s company. They gave the ship an air of domesticity and normality in a situation which in other aspects was very trying.” “Able Seacat Simon” was wounded and never recovered, dying a few months after the Amethyst was able to reach the open sea.

Of special interest to me, was the mention of a British SAS dog, which guarded units dropped into enemy territory, and which made over 20 parachute jumps. And quite recently, a posthumous award was made to Gander, a Newfoundland dog who was killed in Hong Kong on Christmas Eve of 1941. Gander picked up a grenade in his mouth and carried it away, being killed instantly when it exploded. It was said of him that “He had seen many grenades explode in the days leading up to that moment. He saw something dangerous, and took it away from his friends.”

I highly recommend both of these sites to anyone interested in the history of the Great War, and in the various roles which animals have played in all wars throughout history.

Jeff Goodall worked for the Metro Treasury and City Finance Departments for 25 years, and served as a member of the CUPE Local 79 Executive Board for 14 of those years.

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