Army dog Chips who met Churchill to posthumously receive animal equivalent of VC

A US Army dog who met wartime prime minister Winston Churchill during his military duties in the Second World War will be posthumously awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Chips, a Husky-cross, is set to be recognised with a PDSA Dickin Medal for protecting the lives of his platoon during beach landings when the British and Americans invaded Sicily in July 1943.

During the US-led mission, called Operation Husky, as Chips and his platoon landed on the shore at dawn they immediately came under fire.

But, as the soldiers headed for cover, Chips escaped from his lead and ran towards the line of fire which appeared to be coming out of a hut.

Chips will be posthumously awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross
Chips will be posthumously awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross (PDSA)

His handler Private John Rowell and the rest of the platoon watched as Chips entered the shack and the firing stopped. One of the enemy soldiers then appeared with the dog at his throat, enabling them to push forward.

As well as his heroics on the battlefield, Chips served as sentry at the Casablanca Conference in Morocco in January 1943 when the Allies were still fighting to clear the Germans from North Africa.

This is where Mr Churchill and US president Franklin D Roosevelt mapped out the Allies' strategy for the next phase of the war, and is where Chips met both leaders as he undertook his protection duties.

Chips protected his platoon during beach landings in July 1943
Chips protected his platoon during beach landings in July 1943 (PDSA)

The medal was first introduced in 1943 by Maria Dickin, the founder of the UK's leading veterinary charity the PDSA, and is a large bronze medallion bearing the words "for gallantry" and "we also serve".

It will be awarded at the Churchill War Rooms in London on Monday, during the 75th anniversary of the Casablanca Conference.

The highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict, Chips will become the 70th recipient of the medal.

In the years since its creation a total of 32 other dogs, 32 Second World War messenger pigeons, four horses and one cat have also joined the roll of honour.

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