named Pal, was acquired as mascot, by the Royal Rifles of
Canada, who were stationed in Gander, Newfoundland during WW2.
('Pal' had accidentally scratched a child and his owners, upset by
the incident, offered him to the Royal Rifles.)
during the Second World War, The Royal Rifles of Canada were sent, along with Gander, to Hong Kong Island to
defend the island against Japanese attacks.
On one occasion,
Gander charged Japanese soldiers as they were approaching some
wounded Canadian soldiers; most likely saving the soldiers' lives.
Gander's final act of
bravery cost him his own
life, but saved the lives of the men he was with. It occurred on Dec 19, 1941, during the Battle of Lye Mun
on Hong Kong Island. During a Japanese attack, Gander picked
up a grenade that had landed next to a group of soldiers and carried
it away. The grenade exploded, instantly killing Gander.
The Dickin Award, instituted in 1943 by Maria Dicken
founder of People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, is an award
for any animal 'displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to
duty whilst serving with British Commonwealth armed forces or civil
emergency services.' It is recognized as
the animal's Victoria Cross.
Gander was posthumously awarded
the Dickin Medal on October 27, 2000.
The citation on the medal reads as follows:
For saving the lives of Canadian Infantrymen
during the Battle of Lye Mun on Hong Kong Island in December 1941.
On three documented occasions “Gander” the Newfoundland mascot
of the Royal Rifles of Canada engaged the enemy as his regiment
joined the Winnipeg Grenadiers, members of Battalion Headquarters
“C” Force and other Commonwealth troops in their courageous
defence of the Island. Twice “Gander’s” attacks halted the
enemy’s advance and protected groups of wounded soldiers. In a
final act of bravery the war dog was killed in action gathering a
grenade. Without “Gander’s” intervention many more lives would
have been lost in the assault.
Gander's medal is on permanent
display in the Hong Kong section of the Canadian War Museum.