Last resting place of world’s most heroic animals


It was inspiring to learn through an article from BBC News about the Ilford Animal Cemetery in Essex, a cemetery that had recently been restored with a $100,000 grant. It is heralded by PDSA, as the UK’s premier animal cemetery, actually being the resting place for 3,000 military animals and family animal companions.

Among the animals buried there are about 12 recipients of the PDSA Dickin Medal, the charity’s equivalent of the Victoria Cross. The bronze medallion is inscribed with the words “For Gallantry” and “We also Serve”. It is awarded to animals which have displayed “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units”, the charity said.

The honour has been bestowed 62 times on animal recipients, many of which saved lives during war and terrorist attacks. Of these, there are 32 pigeons, 26 dogs, three horses and one cat.


Beauty, owned by PDSA Supt Bill Barnett of the charity’s wartime animal rescue squads, helped to dig out 63 pets during the London Blitz.


Simon the cat is credited with helping save the lives of Royal Navy officers during the Chinese civil war in 1949. He protected food stores from a rat infestation during a siege.


Sheila is the only non-military animal to have received the PDSA’s Dickin Medal for bravery. She helped save the lives of four US airmen whose bomber crashed in a blizzard in 1944.


Mary of Exeter was recognised by the PDSA for carrying top secret messages during the Second World War. She was wounded twice and even impaled on railings, but survived.


Rob the ‘para dog’ was recruited by the SAS for a series of undercover operations in Italy during the Second World War. He made more than 20 parachute descents.


Appollo, an NYPD dog, was one of a number of dogs recognised for their role in the search and rescue operation of the World Trade Center following the September 11 attacks.