28 Aug 2006

Incredible tale of the only PoW dog

History Today:

The ‘animal Victoria Cross’ presented to the only dog officially registered as a Second World War Prisoner of War has gone on display in London.

Relatives of the late owner of Royal Navy mascot Judy presented the PDSA Dickin Medal and decorated collar to the Imperial War Museum yesterday, where they now feature in The Animals’ War exhibition. The items were offered to the museum by the son of Leading Aircraftsman Frank Williams, Judy’s wartime owner.

Born in Shanghai in 1937, Judy survived a torpedo hit on HMS Grasshopper in 1942 and helped crew members locate water when shipwrecked on a Sumatran island. Captured by the Japanese and interred at a camp in Medan, Judy formed a lifelong bond with Frank Williams, protecting him and other prisoners from the brutal guards. The airman offered the camp commandant one of Judy’s puppies in a plea to protect her and she became officially listed as POW 81A Medan. She encountered alligators, wild dogs, a Sumatran tiger and even bullet wounds and was eventually de-mobbed and spent six months in quarantine before she was awarded the PDSA Medal in London. Still accompanying Frank to Africa for his work, Judy was buried there when she died in February 1950.

Frank’s widow Doris commented: “Judy repeatedly saved my husband’s life and that of his fellow prisoners during the war. It was Frank’s wish for Judy’s PDSA Dickin Medal and collar to return to PDSA before being presented to the Imperial War Museum, where her courage and devotion to duty will be remembered by generations to come.”

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