Sep 202020

The Dickin Medal

The Grave of “Titch”

PDSA’s founder, Maria Dickin, introduced the PDSA Dickin Medal in 1943. It is awarded to animals displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units, and is the animals’ equivalent to the Victoria Cross.

The medal, which is made of bronze, is embossed with the words For Gallantry and WE ALSO SERVE. The reverse is inscribed with details of the recipient. It is suspended from a ribbon of dark green, dark brown and pale blue, symbolic of the naval, military, civil defence and air forces. To date (1 May 2009) there have been 62 awards of the PDSA Dickin Medal to 32 pigeons, 26 dogs, three horses and one cat.

‘Tich’ was adopted by 1 KRRC during the fighting in the Western Desert in 1941. When the Battalion reached Algiers in 1943, ‘Tich’ was placed in the care of Rifleman Thomas Walker, accompanying him on the front line usually on the bonnet of a Bren gun carrier or stretcher jeep.

During the fighting in Italy Rifleman Walker, a ‘medic’, was awarded the Military Medal for a number of actions in which he either rescued or tended to injured men while under fire. On every occasion ‘Tich’ remained by his side, being wounded on a number of occasions, once very seriously.

Newspaper reports described ‘Tich’ as the brave dog of an outstandingly brave man. In recommending ‘Tich’ for the Dickin Medal, 1 KRRC’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel E.A.W. Williams, wrote: ‘Her courage and devotion to duty were of very real and considerable value and her courageous example materially helped many men to keep their heads and sense of proportion in times of extreme danger. The sight of her put heart in the men as she habitually rode on the bonnet of her master’s jeep and refused to leave her post even when bringing in wounded under heavy fire.’

The Battalion’s Chaplain also said of ‘Tich’ that: ‘She can leap on to any type of truck or vehicle, will howl like a wolf, will cry, will remain standing against a wall until told to move. She will also smoke cigarettes, and never eat or drink until ordered to do so by her owner.’

During her life ‘Tich’ gave birth to 15 puppies. After the War she lived with ex-Rifleman Walker in Newcastle, taking part with him in fund-raising activities for PDSA.

‘Tich’ died in 1959 and is buried alongside many other PDSA Dickin Medal recipients in the charity’s pet cemetery at Ilford.

PDSA Dickin Medal awarded in 1949 to ‘Tich’ a black mongrel Terrier

The PDSA Dickin Medal awarded in 1949 to a black Egyptian mongrel bitch terrier called ‘Tich’ for loyalty, courage and devotion to duty under hazardous conditions of war between 1941 and 1945 while serving with 1st Battalion, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps

(1 KRRC), in North Africa and Italy. It is the only Dickin Medal owned by the Museum.

On 24 April 2009 a Dickin Medal awarded to ‘Rip’, a homeless stray dog who became a Second World War hero by saving the lives of 100 air-raid victims during the Blitz, fetched £24,250 at auction.

Story sourced and credited to RGJ Museum

Titch Pic Sourced from Google

Animals Who Serve.

I have been honoured, to have dogs in my life, they chose me, as in an animal sanctuary, I slowly walk by, I wanted to take them all home with me, but to do the best for them, I could only have three.

Dogs have been our companions, since life began, finding comfort and security, living with man, they have protected us, willing to give all, taking on all comers, large or small.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used them in war, Spanish conquistadors used them for sure, the Middle Ages in England, Great Danes were used, to put fright to a knight’s horse, holding the knight, for their master’s sword, with final force.

Horses have been used for their strength and mobility, big Shires for nights, for a night in armour is somewhat heavy, donkeys and mules for the heavy work, though the speed of a horse, suited the cavalry.

Elephants are said not to be domesticable, but have been proved to be trainable, history tells the story of Hannibal, his elephants helped him become unstoppable, a machine of an animal, in ways so useful.
Rats and pigs, rhinos, dolphins, and sea lions, special operations, not always good for the animal, there’s no denying, monkeys and bombs full of bats, incendiary devices, used in attack.

Homing pigeons, a hobby or sport, in time of war, and modern communications were nought, they were the communication line, messages from the front, more reliable than word of mouth, anytime.

In so called modern times, the CIA wanted to use the domestic cat, as an acoustic feline, to spy on those from the east, but the cat is not a trainable beast, they do what they want, and sleep when they please.

Horses now are more ceremonial, but through the history of war, life has been brutal, stuck in the mud of World War one, or the charging force of cavalry, the Light Brigade, facing Russian guns.

The one animal closest to our hearts, dogs, of our lives they are a part, in war they are by our sides, the enemy to find, nowhere for a sniper to hide, bombs to find, our friend the dog, is so smart.

A handler and their dog are as one, side by side they walk along, boobytraps and trip wire, guard duty, hidden enemy, before they can fire, dogs are a man’s best friend, in war or peace, a dog its friend will defend.

Animals throughout history have served, warriors of war, and our respect they deserve, some sixteen million in WW1, workers and fighters, both powerful and strong, serving warriors, loyal and where they belong.

Derrick W Sole. Copyright Protected 2020.