Thursday, September 10, 2015

Is There a Medal of Honor for Animal Gallantry?

The Dickin Medal

Maria Elisabeth Dickin was a British social reformer and animal welfare pioneer who founded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) in 1917 to provide care for the animals of the poor.  During the Second World War, the PDSA established the “Dickin Medal” (1943) to recognize animals that displayed "conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units".  The medal was awarded 54 times between 1943 and 1949 and twelve times since 1949.

Some of the recipients include: (1) Rob, a mongrel who served in North Africa and made over twenty parachute jumps, (2) GI Joe, an American carrier pigeon who flew twenty miles in twenty minutes just in time to prevent a friendly fire incident, (3) Beauty, a terrier who helped dig out sixty-three people from under the rubble of a bombing raid in London, and (4) Simon, a ship’s cat who, although wounded continued to hunt rats and protect the crew’s food supply throughout a siege in 1949 along the Yangtze River in China.


The United States has no medal for animal gallantry.

Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Civil War


A brief look at love, sex, and marriage in the Civil War. The book covers courtship, marriage, birth control and pregnancy, divorce, slavery and the impact of the war on social customs.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Parrots and Bats in War


Throughout history animals have been used in warfare.  The Carthaginians used elephants against the Romans as early as 262 BC.  Things have not always gone in accordance with the best laid plans of the military however.

During World War the Soviet Army strapped bombs to dogs and deployed the suicide dogs to destroy German tanks.  The well cared for dogs, however, ran toward their own army which they identified with food and comfort, causing some Red Army units to beat a hasty retreat.

The American Army had similar problems with “Project X-Ray” which involved strapping miniature incendiary charges on thousands of bats which were to be released over Japan.  The plan was scrapped when the bats escaped and destroyed an aircraft hangar and a general’s car in New Mexico.

Supposedly, during World War I, the French army stationed trained parrots atop the Eiffel Tower, from where they were expected to give a twenty minute warning of incoming German aircraft.  The project was abandoned when it was found that the parrots could not discriminate between friendly and enemy planes.


The alleged source of this information is Flight of 7 February 1918:

"Parrots early in the war were tried at the Eiffel Tower with the result that at first they gave warning fully twenty minutes before the aeroplane or airship could be made out by the eye, or heard by the human ear. These birds, however, appear to have grown bored or indifferent, as they could not be kept indefinitely at the work."



Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Civil War


A brief look at love, sex, and marriage in the Civil War. The book covers courtship, marriage, birth control and pregnancy, divorce, slavery and the impact of the war on social customs.