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The E-Sylum:  Volume 7, Number 48, November 28, 2004, Article 15

DICKIN MEDAL: THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR ANIMALS

  We've discussed the Victoria Cross recently, but was
  anyone aware that there is a corresponding British medal
  for animal war heroes?  No, I am NOT making this up, not
  even the glow worms and pigeons.  From a November 24
  Reuters story:

  "Britain's most unusual war heroes -- including glow worms,
  elephants and monkeys -- will be honored Wednesday for their
  devotion to duty under fire.  Princess Anne will unveil a
  war memorial in London's Park Lane dedicated to all the
  animals and insects that endured hardship with the nation's
  armed services."

  "Among those honored will be glow worms whose light was
  used by soldiers to read maps during the trench warfare of
  World War One."

  "In 1943 the founder of the PDSA created the Dickin Medal
  to honor acts of outstanding animal bravery. The medal,
  dubbed "the animals' Victoria Cross" -- Britain's highest
  award for human bravery -- has been granted to 60 animals.

  One distinguished holder of the medal was Rob, the "para dog"
  who made over 20 parachute drops while serving on top secret
  missions behind enemy lines in World War II."

  Article

  [The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is an
  animal charity founded by Mrs. Maria Dickin.  From the
  PDSA web site, which has a photo of the medal:

  "Between 1943 and 1949 PDSA awarded 54 Dickin Medals:
  32 pigeons, 18 dogs, three horses and one cat - "Simon"
  the mascot of HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident
  in 1949 - received the Medal for displaying conspicuous
  gallantry and devotion to duty while serving with the
  Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during World War II
  and its aftermath."

  "The Dickin Medal, a large bronze medallion, bears the
  words 'For Gallantry' and 'We Also Serve' all within a
  laurel wreath. The ribbon is striped green, dark brown
  and pale blue representing water, earth and air to
  symbolise the naval, military, civil defence and air
  forces.

  Several PDSA Dickin Medals have been put up for auction
  in recent years. The auction of "Simon" the cat's medal
  caused great excitement in 1993 when it went under the
  gavel for 23,000! "

  PDSA

  This page has photos of the Dickin medal being awarded in
  1947 to two Australian pigeons: Photos

  With only 54 WWII-era medals awarded, they are certainly
  rare. Have any of our readers seen one?

  The medals are still being awarded, and not just in
  British Commonwealth nations.  Three Dickin medals were
  awarded at New York's "Ground Zero" on March 5 2002:

  "Guide dog "Salty" owned by Port Authority employee Omar
  Rivera and Guide dog "Roselle" owned by Guide Dogs for
  the Blind (California) representative Michael Hingson will
  receive their PDSA Dickin Medals in recognition of their
  devotion to duty as they led their owners down more than
  70 floors of the World Trade Center to safety.

  "Appollo" a German Shepherd from the NYPD canine unit
  and his handler, police officer Peter Davis, will accept
  the PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of all the Search and
  Rescue dog teams that worked at the Ground Zero site
  and in Washington.
  Ground Zero Award

  BBC Radio produced a five-week documentary series about
  Dickin medal Awardees which aired beginning June 27, 2004.
  The shows are available online at: Online Documentary

  On November 4 Spink offered a Dickin medal "Awarded to
  Commando, a red chequer cock pigeon, for gallantry with
  the Resistance and Special Operations Executive in France
  during 1942, this superb medal is expected to fetch
  5,000-7,000."

  The web page includes a photo of the pigeon and medal,
  Along with previous Spink prices realized for Dickin
  Medals (1983: SOE Pigeon, 5,000, 1993: Simon the Cat,
  23,100)  Skink Press Release

  So, can anyone tell us the price realized for Commando's
  medal?  Have Dickin medals been written up elsewhere in
  numismatic literature?
  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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