Prisoner of war dog Judy - PDSA Dickin Medal and collar to be presented to the Imperial War Museum

Prisoner of war dog Judy - PDSA Dickin Medal and collar to be presented to the Imperial War Museum
On 22 August 2006, the Canadian ‘relatives’ of Judy – the only dog to be officially registered as a Second World War prisoner of war – will present her prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal, ‘the animals’ Victoria Cross’, and decorated collar to the Imperial War Museum, where it will go on public display for the first time.

Alan Williams, son of Leading Aircraftsman Frank Williams, Judy’s late owner, will present the PDSA Dickin Medal and collar to Robert Crawford CBE, Director-General of the Imperial War Museum. The Medal and collar, which are inscribed with her campaigns and include her Service ribbons, will then become part of The Animals’ War exhibition at Imperial War Museum London and later be incorporated into the Museum’s collection.

Royal Navy mascot Judy was born in Shanghai in 1937. She was the mascot of HMS Grasshopper, part of the defence fleet in the Far East, when it was hit by torpedo blasts in 1942. Judy and the surviving crew members were marooned on an island of Sumatra where her ability to sniff out a fresh water spring saved their lives. Despite the crew’s attempt to walk to safety and catch a boat to Penang, they inadvertently walked into a Japanese occupied village and were transported to a Prisoner of War camp accompanied by Judy.

It was at the camp in Medan in August 1942 that Judy attached herself to Leading Aircraftsman Frank Williams. The young British airman shared his meagre rice ration with Judy and from that moment she never left his side. Judy protected Frank and his colleagues by distracting the camp guards when they were administering punishment to the prisoners.

In an attempt to secure official protection for Judy, Frank persuaded the camp commandant to officially register Judy as a prisoner of war. Listed as POW 81A Medan, Judy stepped into the history books as the only registered canine. The deal was secured with the gift to the commandant of one of Judy’s puppies, sired by a local visitor to the camp.

Judy remained with Frank throughout the war; surviving numerous camp moves as well as gunshot wounds, alligator bites, attacks from wild dogs and the feared Sumatran tiger, eventually witnessing the Japanese surrender in August 1945. Judy was de-mobbed with Frank, and for one last time he and his fellow survivors smuggled their faithful dog on board ship to Liverpool.

After spending six-months in quarantine, Judy emerged to national adoration. She was presented with her PDSA Dickin Medal at the Returned Prisoner of War Association headquarters in London. Judy died on 17 February 1950 and was buried in Africa where Frank was working. As a last tribute to his companion, Frank built a monument at the grave and attached a large metal plaque which displays the history of Judy’s life.

Talking of how important and special Judy was, Doris Williams, Frank’s widow, says: “Although I never knew Judy in life, she always felt like a member of our family who undoubtedly and 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.”

Attending the presentation, PDSA Director-General, Marilyn Rydström said: “Judy’s extraordinary story exemplifies everything Maria Dickin wanted to honour in animal bravery when she instituted the PDSA Dickin Medal. PDSA is delighted that Judy’s medal will now reside at the Imperial War Museum, where it will be a unique reminder of the part animals play in war.”

Receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of the Imperial War Museum, Director-General, Robert Crawford, said: “Judy was an exceptional dog, and we are delighted that her family have chosen to give her PDSA Dickin Medal and collar to the Imperial War Museum.”

The PDSA Dickin Medal was instituted by Maria Dickin, PDSA’s founder, on 2 December 1943. The Medal – ‘the animals’ Victoria Cross’, is awarded by the UK’s leading veterinary charity, PDSA, and is the highest honour any animal can receive. It recognises the bravery and devotion to duty shown by animals serving in times of military conflict.

For further information and images please contact Isabel George or Jessica Richardson in the PDSA Media and PR Office on 01952 290999 email: george.isabel@pdsa.org.uk or richardson.jessica@pdsa.org.uk

21/08/2006

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