The PDSA Dickin Medal is recognised as the animal equivalent to the Victoria Cross and was founded in 1943 by Maria Dickin CBE (the amazing woman who also founded PDSA).
Lots of military service animals have been awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, so we’re taking a look at just a few of our favourites!
Winkie was a carrier pigeon and the very first recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal (yup, a pigeon was the first animal to get a medal!). She was serving with the RAF in 1942 carrying important messages.
Why we think she’s awesome: Winkie was given her medal for saving the lives of a downed air crew. Despite awful weather and being covered in oil, the crew released her from the downed Beaufort Bomber (which had come under heavy fire) and she made the 120 mile journey back to base to raise the alarm. All the crew were saved thanks to this little bird’s determination!
Upstart was a Police Horse serving in Bethnal Green in the East End of London during the Second World War.
Why we think he’s awesome: Upstart was previously posted near Hyde Park but was relocated after his stable was severely damaged. He was on patrol with his rider when a ‘flying bomb’ exploded just 75 yards from them. He and his rider were showered with broken glass, debris and shrapnel but Upstart didn’t bolt, stayed calm and continued with his job.
Rip was a crossbreed terrier and was a stray before he was taken in by a local Air Raid Warden in London during the Second World War.
Why we think he’s awesome: Rip became the Air Raid Patrol (ARP)’s first ‘official’ search and rescue dog. Rip is believed to have saved the lives of more than 100 people during the London Blitz, where he worked tirelessly with his human colleagues to locate trapped people and animals in the wreckage of bombed buildings.
Rifleman Khan had been a family pet but was drafted into the war effort after the Government issued a call for dogs to help in 1942.
Why we think he’s awesome: Khan joined the 6th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). During a night-time landing craft assault, he and his handler, along with the rest of the crew, came under heavy fire which plunged them into the water. While Khan made it quickly to shore, his handler struggled unable to swim and weighed down by his pack. Khan dived back into the water and pulled his handler to safety.
Simon was a cat serving aboard the HMS Amethyst during the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
Why we think he’s awesome: Firstly, Simon is the only cat to date to be awarded the Dickin Medal. Despite being injured during an attack, Simon continued with his duties. He kept the crew’s already limited food supply safe from rats while they were stranded for almost 10 weeks. The crew were so impressed they promoted him to ‘Able Seaman’!
Overall, 71 animals have been awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal so far. Obviously we think they’re all brave and heroic animals – the above are just some of the fantastic animals who have the award. You can read about all of them our medal pages.