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Medals for animals

The Dickin Medal is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross medal for bravery during war. It was instituted by Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals in England. The only cat to receive the Dickin Medal was Simon, a small black and white cat that served on the HMS Amethyst. He received the medal for disposing of rats even after he had been wounded by a shell blast.

In October 1943, a pigeon called White Vision led a search and rescue team to the wreck of a downed flying boat after the search had been called off. White Vision had flown over 60 miles against a 25 mph head wind in heavy weather. The crew was rescued, for which White Vision received the Dickin Medal.

A pointer dog called Judy was the only four-legged Japanese prisoner-of-war. After Judy was rescued from a sinking boat, she spent here time in military prison catching lizards and other small creatures which she took to the prisoners who were grateful for these supplements to their meagre food rations.

During World War II a cat called Oscar served on the German battleship Bismarck. When the Bismarck was torpedoed Oscar was rescued by a British sailor on board HMS Cossack. Five months later HMS Cossack was sunk but Oscar was rescued by HMS Ark Royal. Only 3 weeks later a German U-boat destroyed Ark Royal and Oscar was rescued again. The naval authorities then decided that Oscar had had enough and posted him on land. Oscar never received any medals but probably didn’t care. According to British naval records, Oscar died peacefully in 1955.

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