Jet the Rescue Dog by David Long, illustrated by Peter Bailey (Allen &Unwin) PB RRP $ 14.99
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
True and astonishing stories about non-human heroes, and the bond between animal and man, are featured in this amazing, 33 part collection.
During war time, strong, fit and intelligent dogs were lent or donated to the War Dog Training School to be trained and used in roles when human effort was impossible or needed supplementing. Some were returned after the war, others were killed. There are many that received the UK Dickin Medal, the animal medal equivalent to Victoria Cross.
Through terrifying campaigns, they brought laughter, joy, companionship, comfort and company to the soldiers. They raised morale, and inspired courage in soldiers and sailors.
Included in these unbelievable accounts is the story of Voytek the bear that carried bombs at the battle of Monte Cassino. Other animals engaged in the war include horses, pigs, honey bees, and giant pouched rats from Africa. These were used to find Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
In the 1940s, thousands of pigeons were employed to assist agents in various countries by carrying top secret messages. Countless died in active duty. Many lives were saved due to their ability to fly long distances without stopping and successfully reaching their destination.
These heroic stories encompass many wars beginning from WW1, through to the Korean War and Afghanistan. Included are major campaigns in North Africa, Northern France, Dutch Resistance in the Netherlands, the Burma Campaign in South-East Asia, and The Cold War in Czechoslovakia. And they are not all. The list is very long and each story is interesting, heart-warming and moving.
An Epilogue of The Animals in War Memorial refers to these brave participants.
Whether they sniffed out survivors from ruins, carried messages through battlefields, from behind enemy lines, or helped in minefield clearance, all these animals are heroes that deserve recognition. This book pays homage to every one of these.