Lifesaving warship mascot Judy chosen for memorial to heroic dogs

THE statue of English pointer Judy will represent the Royal Navy’s links with dogs in a memorial to animals which have played a key role in wartime.

 

The National Military Working Dogs Memorial hopes to build a £200,000 monument to canines which have saved lives or contributed to victory from the Great War to the recent conflict in Afghanistan.

 

Four dogs have been selected to be cast in bronze, one for each Service (two for the RAF), facing in the four directions of the compass around a central monument at North Wales Pet Cemetery, near Holywell.

 

Judy was picked by the committee due to her remarkable story – one which was turned into a bestselling book by author Damien Lewis, one of the memorial’s patrons, who called her “a dog in a million”.

 

Memorial trustee Emma Ward said: “Judy’s story could be made into a Hollywood movie and the last time I spoke to Damien they were making steps to bring this to a reality.

 

“Judy was also the only dog to be officially registered as a prisoner of war.”

Judy was the mascot of two gunboats on the China Station, firstly HMS Gnat, then her sister

HMS Grasshopper, which evacuated personnel in the final days before the fall of Singapore in February 1942.

 

Grasshopper was subsequently attacked and abandoned, with Judy pinned down below decks. Her keeper PO George White rescued her and brought her to a tropical island where the other survivors were gathered.

 

There the dog found a fresh-water spring when supplies ran out and kept snakes a bay. The party – including Judy – were captured after a month trying to make their way through the Sumatran jungle and spent the rest of the war in Japanese camps.

 

In captivity, she was cared for by RAF Leading Aircraftman Frank Williams, barked and growled at guards when they tried to maltreat prisoners, was given the status of an officer PoW, kept snakes and scorpions at bay, brought food for inmates, survived a second sinking when the prisoners were shipped from Singapore… and torpedoed… and helped numerous men to survive in the water by helping them to flotsam. She was eventually reunited with Williams at a new camp in Sumatra.

 

Even when the camp was liberated the dog’s ordeal wasn’t over – she had to be smuggled back to the UK and spent six months in quarantine costing £12 which Frank Williams didn’t have. An appeal raised the funds as Judy’s wartime exploits became known.

 

She was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal – the animal’s Victoria Cross – in May 1946 “for magnificent courage and endurance in Japanese prison camps, which helped to maintain morale among her fellow prisoners and also saving many lives through her intelligence and watchfulness.”

 

And her bark was broadcast worldwide by the BBC as part of Victory Day celebrations in June 1946.

 

After several months as a celebrity, she lived out the rest of her life with Mr Williams, dying in 1950 aged around 13 in Tanzania where her owner was then working. She was buried in her RAF jacket and campaign medals and an elaborate granite gravestone telling her story was subsequently erected.

Now, she will be memorialised in bronze in the UK, facing south if the remaining £150,000 can be raised.