Dog honoured for wartime efforts in comforting Scottish POWs in Thailand
A “loyal and courageous” dog that comforted captured Scottish soldiers in Thailand during the Second World War has been honoured by a veterinary charity.
Bull terrier Peggy was posthumously awarded the PDSA Commendation at a special ceremony at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen on Thursday.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders found her as an abandoned puppy in Malaya (now part of Malaysia) during the war.
She became their mascot, proving herself a loyal companion as they fought Japanese forces during the Battle of Singapore in February 1942.
The 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders was involved in fierce fighting before the British Army’s surrender, when Peggy and the soldiers were taken as prisoners of war (PoWs).
The dog and the Gordon Highlanders, along with thousands of other PoWs, were sent to Thailand to carry out hard physical labour and she helped boost morale during their three-and-a-half years in captivity.
Peggy was nominated for the PDSA award by Stewart Mitchell, a volunteer historian at the Gordon Highlanders Museum.
He said: “Peggy was a loyal and courageous ally to her Gordon Highlander comrades.
“When she saw a Gordon Highlander being attacked, she would fearlessly try to intervene, often at the cost of a blow with a split bamboo cane or worse, a stab from a guard’s bayonet.
“She bore the scars of these encounters for her entire life. Throughout the whole duration of their imprisonment, with the men in a seemingly hopeless situation, just struggling to survive another day with no end in sight, Peggy’s presence boosted their morale.”
Mr Mitchell added: “Right up until her death in 1947, the regiment demonstrated a continued recognition and gratitude to her with her grave, at the Bridge of Don Barracks, Aberdeen, being marked by a granite memorial.
“This was later relocated to a prominent position in the grounds of the new regimental HQ which is now the regimental museum and is a continuing symbol the shared loyalty and affection between the soldiers and Peggy.”
Peggy was eventually freed along with members of the battalion following Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day) on August 15 1945 but the soldiers refused to travel back to Scotland unless Peggy was allowed to join them on the journey home.
She lived at the battalion’s barracks in Aberdeen until her death in 1947.
The PDSA Commendation was presented by PDSA vet Fiona Gregge, with bull terrier, Billy, also attending the presentation to receive the award on Peggy’s behalf.
She said: “Peggy’s remarkable story has touched all of us here at PDSA.
“The PDSA Commendation recognises the outstanding devotion that animals display and celebrates the amazing ways they enrich our lives.
“It is clear that the soldiers drew a great amount of strength from Peggy’s unwavering loyalty and friendship during what was a deeply traumatic time in their lives.”
She added: “The fact the Gordon Highlanders refused to board their ship home unless Peggy could sail with them speaks volumes about the bond that was formed.
“Peggy was a truly exceptional animal and she is a worthy recipient of this award.”
The PDSA Animal Awards Programme was instituted in 1943 by the charity’s founder, Maria Dickin.