This year it is the centenary of World War One and at the centre we celebrated the unsung heroes – dogs.
Dogs have been used in war almost as long as we have known them as pets, they have been unsung heroes, playing many a vital role in assisting the armed forces, working alongside the Army, Navy and Air Force.
We have laid two wreaths, for people and animals, in remembrance as part of the There but not There campaign. The Most reverend & Right Hon. The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said “I do commend this creative and imaginative project very warmly. I hope that many churches and organisations will want to engage with this during this next year. As we commemorate the end of the First World War it is vital that we remember and this project allows us to do so in a way that will engage with the imagination and be a real exercise in remembrance.”
Whilst we are remembering the unsung heroes of yesterday, we will also be asking for support for this years heroes, the superdogs that help people. If you can support a Superdog, please do so here.
Dogs are awarded the Dickin Medal, it was introduced in 1943 as the Victoria Cross to animals, in recognition of incredible bravery. It has been awarded to 28 dogs, 32 messenger pigeons, 3 horses and 1 cat.
The most famous dog is Bing (or Brian), a two year is collie for his service during the D Day landings. He was a tough paratrooper, he trained hard for his deployment with the British Army during this time, he learnt how to identify minefields, keep his comrades safe and alert of any incoming enemy, the dogs had to have a high level of fitness just like their two legged counterparts.
On D-Day, he parachuted in under heavy anti-aircraft fire to land in Normandy to help detect enemy, he was there when the Allies liberated it. A few months before the war’s end, he had parachuted into western Germany, from where he marched to the Baltic Sea with soldiers on foot for miles. Less than two years after the war, Brian was given an award to recognise his “conspicuous gallantry.
When he died in 1955, the former paradog was buried in a cemetery of honour for animals northeast of London. Today you can also find a life sized replica of this four-legged hero in the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces Museum in Duxford. He is naturally shown wearing his parachute and next to his medal of honour, which bears the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve.”
The unsung heroes who fought in WWII
In May 1941, during the dark days of the Second World War, the War office ran adverts “British Dog owners, your country needs your dog”. Within two weeks 7,000 offers of dogs were received, one woman sent a message with her dog “my husband has gone, my sons have gone, take my dog to help bring this cruel world to an early end.”
By the end of the war, some 3,300 dogs had been successfully dispatched to units across the globe. Around 200 were killed or reported as missing in action, others went on to achieve some of the most heroic deeds of the war.