Nearly 100 years after his service in World War I, “Warrior” is posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry or devotion to duty in military service.
Top photo: British cavalry in France in 1914. Public doman/Wikimedia Commons.
It’s often called the “Victoria Cross for animals”–the Victoria Cross being the highest military honor for valor in service to the United Kingdom’s military. The Dickin Award was created in 1943 by Maria Dickin in Great Britain, who sought to recognize and honor animals who displayed great gallantry and devotion to duty in military or civil emergency service. Originally awarded only between 1943 and 1949, the award was revived in 2000; the most recent recipients include two dogs for their work during the September 11 attacks and two dogs serving the Commonwealth in Bosnia and Iraq. And as of September 2nd, 2014, the very most recent recipient is Warrior, a warhorse who served on the western front in the first World War.
Warrior’s tale is eerily reminiscent of the now-famous historical fictional tale of Joey, better known to the world as the novel, play and movie War Horse. Warrior arrived at the western front of battle with General Jack Seely in August of 1914 and served alongside his master through machine gun attacks and shelling. Seely later documented Warrior’s incredible bravery in a book, describing Warrior bogging down in deep mud and being twice trapped beneath the burning beams of a barn, as well as his survival in the face of gunfire and numerous charges at the enemy. Warrior served as a source of inspiration for the soldiers he fought alongside.
Despite suffering several injuries, Warrior survived the war and retired back to his native Great Britain in 1918 to live with the Seely family on the Isle of Wight. Warrior lived to the respectable old age of 33.
The Dickin Medal was accepted by Seely’s grandson Brough Scott, who wished his grandfather could have witnessed Warrior’s commendation and highest honor. Scott was proud to accept the award on behalf of Warrior and all of the animals who gave their lives in service during wartime.
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