Judy with Frank Williams in London (1948) ©TopFoto.co.uk

Judy the English Pointer - POW 81A Gloergoer, Medan

Judy was a ships' dog on board the HMS Gnat and HMS Grasshopper which were stationed on the Yangtze River before and during World War II. Her ability to hear incoming aircraft provided the crew with early warnings. Judy was transferred, with other crew, from the Gnat to the Grasshopper in June 1939 when the ship was sent to Singapore due to the British declaration of war on Germany. She was on board the ship for the battle of Singapore, which saw the Grasshopper evacuate for the Dutch East Indies. It was sunk en-route, and Judy was nearly killed having been trapped by a falling row of lockers. She was rescued when a crewman returned to the stricken vessel looking for supplies.

HMS Gnat

HMS Grasshopper

The surviving crew, along with Judy, made their way to Singkep in the Dutch East Indies and then onto Sumatra, with the aim to link up with the evacuating British forces. After trekking across 200 miles of jungle for five weeks, the crew and Judy arrived a day after the final vessel had left and subsequently became prisoners of war of the Japanese. Judy was eventually smuggled into the Medan POW camp, where she met Leading Aircraftsman Frank Williams for the first time. She would go on to spend the rest of her life with him. Williams convinced the camp Commandant to register her as an official prisoner of war, with the number '81A Gloergoer, Medan'. She was the only dog to be registered as a prisoner of war during the Second World War.

Judy aboard the HMS Grasshopper

Judy moved around several more camps, survived the sinking of the transport ship SS Van Warwyck and saved several prisoners from drowning. Once they had been rescued and upon arrival at a dock, she was found by Les Searle, (of the HMS Grasshopper), who tried to smuggle her onto a truck with him. However; she was discovered by a Japanese Captain who threatened to kill her. This order was countermanded by the newly arrived former Commander of the Medan POW camp and she was allowed to travel with Searle onto the new camp, where she was reunited with Frank Williams.

 

This camp was on the railway being built between Pekanbaru and Muaro. Here she proved herself useful in conducting trades between the locals and the POW's, as she would indicate when the locals were hiding near the track. Her barking also alerted the guards to when there was something too large for her to handle in the jungle, such as tigers or elephants. Judy survived by catching snakes and rats for herself and for the men which substituted their diet of maggot infested rice.

Judy’s position at the camps was a treacherous one, as she often interferred whenever the Japanese guards began beating a prisoner, snapping and growling at them, which just resulted in the guards focusing their attention, and aggression, on her.

 

After the end of the war Judy's life was put in danger once again. She was about to be put to death by the Japanese guards following a lice outbreak amongst the prisoners. However Williams hid the dog until the allied forces arrived. Searle, Williams and others smuggled Judy back to the UK aboard a troop ship where she spent the next six months in quarantine.

Judy wearing her Dickin Medal ©TopFoto.co.uk

She was awarded the Dickin Medal by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals which is considered to be the animals version of the Victoria Cross. Her citation read, "For magnificent courage and endurance in Japanese prison camps, which helped to maintain morale among her fellow prisoners and also for saving many lives through her intelligence and watchfulness." Besides the medal, she was also the recipient of a serious amount of fanfare that included being “interviewed” by the BBC and having a ceremony held honoring her service on May 3, 1946 in Cadogan Square. She also became a mascot for the RAF.

 

Judy spent the rest of her life with Williams and continued her globetrotting by traveling with him around Africa. She was ultimately “put to sleep” on February 17, 1950 at the age of 13 as her health had declined significantly due to a tumor.  Williams buried her in an RAF coat he had made especially for her and a small monument was erected in her honour. 

 

Her Dickin Medal and collar were put on display at the Imperial War Museum in London as part of 'The Animal's War' exhibition.

Judy with Frank Williams in London

Judys' Dickin Medal

© 2019 by Farrell Family

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