The medal for the brave animals – “Dickin medal” was established in 1943 by an English woman Maria Elizabeth Dickin, who was also the founder of one of the first charities to help animals called PDSA – 'People's Dispensary for Sick Animals of the Poor', or meaning “dispensary for sick animals of poor owners”. During the First World War, Mary was trying very hard to improve the living conditions of farm animals in White chapel district in London. Her wish was to open a veterinary clinic in which the residents of East London could treat their sick and injured animals free of charge. Lots of her positive energy quickly met the resistance from many sides, from the people and organizations which she was asking for help and resources to start. Official veterinary institutions initially felt a threat to their status, but after a while their common sense prevailed. Despite great difficulties, on 17th November, 1917 the PDSA was opened. In front of the dark entrance to the building that housed a veterinary dispensary stood a plaque with the inscription:
Bring your diseased animals,
Do not let them suffer,
We treat all animals,
Treatment for free.
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Since at the time Second World War was raging around the world, Maria was aware of the fact that the animals often play a very important role in war conditions. That's why she established a medal for bravery to be granted to animals in active military service or civil defense. This is the medal in England that is considered equivalent to the Victoria Cross, which is the highest-ranking medal for human courage that can be awarded in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth. It is awarded solely on the official proposal and was awarded as much as 54 times between 1943 and 1949. The winners of 32 of them are carrier pigeons, 18 medals belong to dogs, 3 to horses and 1 to a cat. So let's see some of the winners.
1. Irma – German Shepherd
Irma the German shepherd was in the service of the civil defense; she was awarded on 12th January, in 1945, 'For the rescue of 191 people captured beneath the collapsed buildings during the German bombing of London”.
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2. Rob – Collie
Rob the Collie, the official military dog number 471/332 in special aviation units was awarded on January 22nd, in 1945. “He took part in the discharging and fighting on the front line with the South African infantry unit and later served in the Air Force special unit in Italy as a patrol and guard dog in the forward positions within enemy territory. His presence in these units saved many soldiers from being discovered, captured or killed. Rob participated in more than 20 jumps off the plane”.
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3. Rip – the stray dog
The fact that Rip was a stray dog didn't diminish his braveness and service. Members of civil defense unit in Poplar, near London, found this guy and took him with them. Rip was awarded in 1945 for finding a lot of victims of the bombing in air strikes in 1940.
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4. Antis – German Shepherd
Antis the German Shepherd was awarded on 28 January, in 1949. With his owner, the Czech airmen, this dog served in French and English Aviation from 1940 to 1945 in North Africa and in England. After returning to Czechoslovakia when the war was finished, this dog helped his owner to escape across the border, when the Russian military units occupied this land.
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5. Salty and Roselle
Salty and Roselle – Labradors, guides for blind people were awarded on March 5, 2002. “For the loyalty to their blind owners, whom they courageously led down 70 floors from World Trade Center to safety on the day of the attacks on New York – on 11th September, 2001.
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6. White Vision – carrier pigeon
This carrier pigeon, ring code SURP.41.L.3089 was awarded on 2nd December, 1943. “For communicating the message under extremely difficult circumstances, which contributed to the rescue of crew of the English Air Force in October 1943″.
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7. Scotch Lass – carrier pigeon
Carrier pigeon Scotch Lass, number NPS.42.21610, was awarded in June 1945, “for the timely transfer of 38 microphotographies over the North Sea in spite of the injury, during his service in the English aviation in the Netherlands in September, 1944”.
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8. Olga – the Police horse
Olga was awarded on 11th April, 1947. She was on duty at the time of the bombing that destroyed 4 houses in Tooting, when sprawled windows and broken glass fell in front of her. After thinking of leaving, Olga returned to their place and remained on duty, together with her rider, who controlled the traffic and helped in rescuing of the injured.
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9. Simon the Cat
Simon, a black and white cat, was awarded posthumously, in 1949. Simon served on the battleship HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident, destroying rats, even though he was wounded during the attack. During the conflict, his behavior was at a very high level, even though the explosions made holes in the steel hulls of the ship half a meter wide”.
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Human courage and animal courage are for every respect and admiration.