The story of a dog taken prisoner in WWII

In 1936, the crew of the British gunboat HMS Gnat purchased an English Pointer puppy named Judy from a kennel in Shanghai, China. She was to act as a mascot and also as a hunting dog when she disembarked. Her ship’s cook, Jan “Tanky” Cooper, was put in her care.
Fast forward to the beginning of World War II – In 1939, HMS Gnat was recalled to port. Judy accompanied the crew she transferred to HMS Grasshopper in June 1939.

Three years later Grasshopper was destroyed by a torpedo. Once her crew disembarked, Judy joined them on a deserted island off the coast of Sumatra, where she proved her worth. An incident occurred when the men were having trouble finding fresh water because Judy had a sensitive nose. She led them to a point near the shore at low tide and began drilling, eventually discovering an underground spring with fresh water for us and the crew to drink.

A few days later, the crew managed to “command” a Chinese junk and set off for Sumatra. Upon arrival, they began the 200-mile journey to British Pedan. They tried to prevent the evacuation of British troops from the area, but unfortunately they were unsuccessful. Instead, they ended up in a Japanese-controlled city on the way, and the crew were taken prisoner. Not wanting to leave Judy behind, the soldiers hid her as she was taken to an Indonesian prisoner of war camp.

Royal Air Force Major Frank Williams was among the prisoners held in the camp. He was a pilot in the Royal Navy, but when Judy was looking for food for her and found no suitable owner, Frank decided to adopt her. He fed her and from then on Judy became his constant companion and all the other prisoners began to call her their dog.

It was Judy who protected the British prisoner of war whenever he was punished by the Japanese guards. She will jump even if it means hurting herself. Fearful of being killed by her guards, Frank persuades the commander to give Judy her official prisoner status. That would surely save her life. She then offered one of her Judy’s puppies as a gift to the commander’s local mistress to seal her deal.

Commander accepted. Judy was the only official dog prisoner during World War II – POW 81A Gloergoer, Medan. Her guards sometimes beat her when she got in her way, but were reluctant to kill her captives.

Williams and part of the Grasshopper crew were posted to Singapore in June 1944. Before Mr. Williams went on, he taught Judy to stay still in the rice bag. Judy was then smuggled out again and lay motionless in a rice sack for three hours while Williams was on the deck of SS Van Warwick with the other prisoners.

At 12:42 on 26 June, the British submarine Trueculent was torpedoed and did not reach Singapore. After the attack, confusion spread between the POWs and the crew. Williams quickly grabbed Judy and pushed her through a small porthole, and the ship sank immediately.

Unfortunately, Ms. Williams was unable to enter the same porthole, but she found another exit and swam out to try to find her Judy. After some time, Ms. Williams was finally able to return to shore, but her Judy was not found. He was recaptured and sent again to another prisoner of war camp.

Recapturing a prisoner of war camp and finding out wasn’t really the plan he had in mind, but it did have its advantages. Upon arriving at a prisoner of war camp in Sumatra, I found Judy there.

Williams and Judy survived a tough year in Sumatra until 1945 when the war ended.

However, another dilemma arose after takeoff. The SS Atenor, which was to take her back to England, did not allow her animals on board. Not wanting to leave her behind, Williams smuggled her Judy out again while the other captives distracted the guards.

This was unexpected even in England. She was soon arrested by USDA officials, and Judy spent the first six months in quarantine in mainland Britain. However, her Judy story spread during this time. Ultimately, she was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal. It is an animal award equivalent to the Victoria Cross awarded to animals “who have demonstrated outstanding valor or duty while serving in or belonging to the armed forces or civil defense units”.
In addition to the
medal, she received a great deal of attention, including her BBC ‘interview’ and a ceremony honoring her for all her achievements on 3 May 1946 in Cadogan Square. The official citation on her Judy medal read, “Judy then spent the rest of her life with Williams.” They continued their world tour around Africa. She was finally “euthanized” on February 17, 1950, because her breast tumor had seriously degraded her health. She was 13 at the time. Williams buried her in a Royal Air Force coat specially made for her and erected a small memorial to her in her honor.