Sunday 17 July 2011

Celebrity Dog (9)

Chips was the most decorated American war dog from World War II. Chips was a German Shepherd-Collie-Siberian Husky mix, owned by Edward J Wren of New York state.

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dogs for Defense was (DFD) was established. During the war, private citizens like Edward Wren would donate their dogs for war duty. Chips shipped out in 1942 for training as a sentry dog. He served with the 3rd Infantry Division in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany. His handler was Pvt. John P. Rowell.

Chips the Dog

Chips served as a sentry dog for the Roosevelt-Churchill conference in 1943. Later that year, during the invasion of Sicily, Chips and his handler were pinned down on the beach by an Italian machine-gun team. Chips broke from his handler and jumped into the pillbox, attacking the gunners. The four crewmen were forced to leave the pillbox and surrendered to US troops. In the fight he sustained a scalp wound and powder burns. Later that day, he helped take 10 Italians prisoner.  On one occasion, Chips alerted to an impending ambush. Then, with a phone cable attached to his collar, Chips ran back to base, dodging gunfire so that the endangered platoon could establish a communications line and ask for the backup they so desperately needed.

For his actions during the war, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart. Chips was a true hero -- but his Silver Star for valor and a Purple Heart were taken away because he was categorized as mere "equipment". His unit unofficially awarded him a Theater Ribbon with an Arrowhead for an assault landing, and Battlestars for each of his eight campaigns. Chips was discharged in December 1945 and returned to the Wren family.

Today we salute the memory of Chips - his hard won battle honours taken away by the government he served.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy and Abbey

Monday 11 July 2011

Celebrity Dogs (8)

Hello everyone.

The celebrity dogs today are Irma and Psyche.

Irma, was an Alsatian who assisted in the rescue of 191 people trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with London's Civil Defence Services during the Second World War. During this period she worked with her handler and owner, Mrs Margaret Griffin, and another dog named Psyche. Noted for her ability to tell if buried victims were dead or alive, she was awarded the Dickin Medal in 1945 and is buried at the PDSA Animal Cemetery, Ilford.

Irma was initially used as a messenger dog to relay messages when telephone lines were down. She was teamed with another dog from the same kennel, named Crumstone Psyche (commonly referred to as Psyche), and they were both retrained to become search and rescue dogs. The pair of dogs were handled by their owner, Mrs Margaret Griffin, and together the two dogs found two hundred and thirty three people, of which twenty-one were found alive. In one incident, Irma refused to give up on the scent of two girls who were trapped under a fallen building for two days. Irma specialised in being able to bark differently depending on whether the buried victim was dead or alive. This included one occasion when Irma signaled with an "alive" bark and rescuers dug out a victim who was apparently dead. Irma was proved correct, as the man eventually stirred.

She was awarded the Dickin Medal on 12 January 1945 with a citation that read "For being responsible for the rescue of persons trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with the Civil Defences of London." Irma, along with Jet (See celebrity dogs 7)  was one of two dogs to participate in the London Victory Celebrations of 1946 held in Pall Mall, London on 8 June 1946. Both wore their Dickin Medals during the parade. Irma's owner, Mrs Margaret Griffin, was awarded the British Empire Medal for her work in training her dogs and accompanying them on rescue missions.

So today we salute the memory or Irma and her companion Psyche.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy