Royal Navy mascot, Judy – the only dog to be officially registered as a Second World War prisoner of war – was presented with the PDSA Dickin Medal for her courage and devotion during the war. Her Canadian ‘relatives’ presented the medal and decorated collar to the Imperial War Museum on 22 August 2006, following the wishes of her late owner, Frank Williams.
Judy was born in Shanghai in 1937 and was the mascot for HMS Grasshopper, which was part of the defence fleet in the Far East when it was hit by torpedo blasts in 1942.
She and the surviving crewmembers were marooned on an island off Sumatra, where her ability to sniff out fresh water saved all their lives. Unfortunately whilst trying to walk to safety the survivors walked into a Japanese occupied village and were transported to a prisoner of war camp.
Judy befriended Frank Williams at the POW camp, when he shared his meagre rice ration with her. From that time on she never left his side and protected Frank and his colleagues by distracting the guards when they administered punishments. Frank managed to secure official protection for Judy by persuading the camp commandant to officially register her as a prisoner of war. The deal was secured with a gift to the commandant of one of Judy’s puppies, which were sired by a local visitor to the camp. Listed as POW81A, Judy became the only dog to be recognised as a prisoner of war.
After surviving numerous camp moves, the horrors of gunshot wounds, alligator bites, attacks from wild dogs and the feared Sumatran tiger, and eventually witnessing the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Judy spent six months in quarantine. Upon her return she emerged as a national hero and was presented with her PDSA Dickin Medal at the Returned Prisoner of War Association headquarters in London.
Judy died in 1950 and Frank built a monument, which tells the story of her life. Frank had stipulated that after his death Judy’s medal should be returned to the PDSA and then be presented to the Imperial War Museum so that her courage and devotion would be remembered for generations. His son, Alan Williams, presented the medal to the museum last month, where it is now proudly displayed.
If you wish to learn more about Judy’s story visit the website.
Many thanks to PDSA - the Uk's leading veterinary charity for use of the images.