War Animals: The Unsung Heroes of WWII

They had no voice ... they had no choice

 Millions rallied to the cause of freedom against Nazism and the menace of Imperial Japan. But did you know that some of those heroes had fur, or feathers? War animals guarded American coasts against submarine attack, dug out Londoners trapped in bomb wreckage, and carried vital messages under heavy fire on Pacific islands. They kept up morale, rushed machine gun nests, and even sacrificed themselves picking up live grenades.


This book tells the heart-warming stories of the dogs, horses, mules, pigeons—and even one cat—who did their bit for the war effort. American and British families volunteered beloved family pets and farm dogs when rationing made it difficult to feed them; President Roosevelt, bought honorary commissions in the reserves for lapdogs and other pets not suitable for military duties to “exempt” them from war service and raise money to defeat Hitler and Tojo. Many of these gallant animals are recipients of the prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal, the “Animals’ Victoria Cross.”


In War Animals: The Unsung Heroes of World War II you’ll meet:

  • Judy, the POW dog who helped her beloved human survive brutal Japanese prison camps
  • Cher Ami, the pigeon in WWI who nearly died delivering a message that saved American troops from death by friendly fire
  • Beauty, the “digging dog” who sniffed out Londoners buried in the wreckage of the Blitz—along with pets, including one goldfish still in its bowl!
  • Olga, the horse who braved shattering glass to do her duty in London bombings
  • Smoky, the Yorkshire terrier who did parachute jumps, laid communications wire through a pipe so small only she could navigate it, became the first therapy dog—and starred on a weekly TV show after the War
  • Simon, the war cat whose campaign against the “Mao Tse Tung” of the rat world saved food supplies and his ship’s crew
  • * Chips, who guarded Roosevelt and Churchill during the Casablanca Conference, and the only dog to earn a Silver Star for his heroics

     These are just a few of the 70+ heroes you will discover in this book.

     The shining loyalty and courage of these heroes is a testimony to the enduring bond between us and the animals we love.

PDSA Dickin Medal: The Victoria Cross for Animals

In 1943, amidst the horrors of the Second World War, an important military decoration was instituted - not for the two-legged heroes, but the four legged and winged ones that served so valiantly alongside their men. This award would become known as “The Victoria Cross for Animals,” the prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal. It is the highest award an animal can achieve for gallantry and bravery in the field of military conflict.


Since its inception, the PDSA Dickin Medal has been awarded seventy times to thirty-two pigeons, thirty-three dogs, four horses and one cat. Yes, a cat! Fifty-six of those were awarded to animals that served during World War II.  


All of their amazing stories are in this book.


WAR DOGS (American): Chips; Nora; 1st Marine War Dog Platoon: Caesar, Andy, Jack; Sinbad; Smoky

DICKIN DOGS: Antis, Rip, Jet, Irma, Beauty, Rob, Thorn, Rifleman Khan, Bing, Sheila, Peter, Judy, Ricky, Rex, Bob, Punch & Judy, Tich, Gander

WAR BIRDS: GI Joe, Yank, Blackie Halligan, Captain Lederman, Jungle Joe, Burma Queen, Lady Astor, Captain Fulton, Cher Ami (WW1), Julius Caesar, Wisconsin Boy, US 1169

BRITAIN’S BIRD BRIGADE (Dickin Medalists): Winkie, White Vision, Gustav, Paddy, Mary of Exeter, Kenley Lass, Commando, Royal Blue, DD.43.Q.879, Tommy, Ruhr Express, William of Orange, Duke of Normandy, Tyke, Beachcomber, Flying Dutchman, Navy Blue, Dutch Coast, Scotch Lass, Billy, Cologne, Maquis, Broad Arrow, NPS.42.NS.2780, NPS.42.NS.7524; All Alone, Princess, Mercury, NURP.38.BPC.6, NURP.43.CC.2418, DD.43.T.139

WAR HORSES & MULES: Coast Guard Beach Patrol, Regal, Olga, Upstart

WAR ... CAT: The One - and Only - Simon

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Praise for the book

 “I can’t think of another author who has done more to honor the animals of war than Robin Hutton. In War Animals, she brings to life the forgotten stories of countless brave military heroes— heroes with wings, hooves, and paws, whose bravery and sacrifice should never be forgotten. Hutton  brings her sharp eye, careful, research, and lively writing style to honor our animal friends who fought alongside their human partners. This book will delight both animal lovers and military buffs!”

— ELIZABETH LETTS, bestselling author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion and The Perfect Horse

“ Robin Hutton has performed above and beyond the call of duty in gathering these incredible stories of service animals during wartime into one handy volume. These dogs, horses and birds (plus one amazing cat!) show over and over that bravery, dedication, and loyalty aren't just human traits. Every page brings another marvel.”

— ROBERT WEINTRAUB, author of No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII

“With a sense of humor and attention to historical detail and context, author Robin Hutton brings stories of animal warriors to the pages of War Animals. Readers who think they know their WWII history will discover new facts. Animal fanciers will delight in the tales of smart brave dogs and other critters pressed into military service—and maybe shed a tear or two. And we have increased respect for the handlers who worked with these talented animals on the home front, in the Pacific, and in Europe. A great read!”

—LIN EZELL, Director, National Museum of the Marine Corps

“A heartwarming experience.”

— SCOTT HUESING, U.S. Marine Corps major (retired) and author of Echo in Ramadi: The Firsthand Story of U.S. Marines in Iraq’s Deadliest City

”With War Animals, Robin Hutton has once again triggered her readers’ fascination with her unique talent to humanize a wide range of courageous animals who tried to change the tides of war. A reader’s book - the pages turn on their own. I loved it!”

— JAMES E “TED” BASSETT III, World War II veteran (4th Marines), former director of the Kentucky State Police

“ As a Marine Scout Dog Handler who served in Vietnam with dog Stormy, I have to say this is one awesome book. It is full of information on the war animals of World War II. This is a must read.”

— RON AIELLO, President, United States War Dogs Association