War Medal for Dog Rip, Who Saved 100 People, May Fetch $14 400

Rip, a stray dog who became a World War II hero after being found homeless and starving in a bombing raid in London, will be remembered at an auction next month.

Rip was saved by an Air Raid Precaution (ARP) warden during the 1940 German attacks in the Poplar area. The terrier-cross became the local ARP post’s mascot and soon started sniffing out casualties trapped under burning or bombed buildings.

He located more than 100 victims and won a Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the U.K. military’s Victoria Cross for bravery. His circular bronze decoration will be offered by the specialist auction house and dealers Spink on April 23. The medal will fetch as much as 10 000 pounds ($14 400), Spink said in an e-mail last night. It would not name the seller.

“How welcome to the victims must have been the first sounds of those scrabbling paws,” wrote author Jilly Cooper, “shrill terrier yaps, and the first sight of the grinning Tommy Brock face with its merry friendly eyes.” (Cooper is a patron of the Animals in War Memorial in London’s Park Lane, planned after her 1983 book “Animals in War.”)

Rip’s success as an unofficial rescue dog convinced the authorities toward the end of the War to train more dogs to trace casualties.

The medal was introduced in 1943 by Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), the U.K.’s biggest veterinary charity. It was presented 54 times between 1943 to 1949 to 18 dogs, 32 pigeons, three horses and one cat.

The medal is still occasionally awarded. There have been only 62 winners.

Life-Saving

In February 2007, it was presented twice to recognize gallantry in two areas of military conflict, according to the PDSA Web site. One went to an army explosives search dog, Sadie, for her life-saving action in Afghanistan. Another was a posthumous award to Royal Air Force Police dog Lucky for anti- terrorist work in Malaya in 1949 to 1952.

Rip wore the medal on his collar until he died in 1948. He was the first of 12 medal winners to be buried in the PDSA’s cemetery in Ilford, east London.

His headstone reads “Rip, D.M., ‘We also serve,’ for the dog whose body lies here played his part in the Battle of Britain.”

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Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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