Veterinary charity PDSA is marking 80 years of the PDSA Dickin Medal, which was founded during the Second World War to honour animals serving in the military.
On Sunday, 12 November, PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin laid a wreath at the Cenotaph to commemorate the animals who served during the two world wars.
The charity is also highlighting the stories of four previous recipients on a special page on its website.
PDSA founder Maria Dickin launched the medal in 1943 with the support of the War Office and Imperial War Museum. The first PDSA Dickin Medals were awarded in December of that year to three carrier pigeons called Winkie, White Vision and Tyke.
Considered to be the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, the medal has been awarded a total of 75 times to animals that have shown conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty.
One of the recipients being highlighted by the charity is Simon, the only cat to receive a PDSA Dickin Medal. Simon served on board HMS Amethyst during the Chinese Civil War.
Despite being injured when the ship came under fire from the People’s Liberation Army, Simon helped protect the ship’s limited food supply from rats as it sat stranded in the Yangtze River for almost 10 weeks.
For his work hunting rats and raising the morale of the crew, Simon received the PDSA Dickin Medal in 1949.
Ms McLoughlin said: “We are incredibly proud to be celebrating 80 years of the PDSA Dickin Medal, and as such recognising all of its incredible recipients.
“The PDSA Dickin Medal has demonstrated time and time again how absolutely vital animals are to the war effort. They bring a unique set of skills that no man, woman or machine could match.
“From our first-ever pigeon recipient in 1943 to German shepherd Bass, our most recent PDSA Dickin Medal recipient earlier this year, every single animal who has been awarded the medal over the years is remembered and celebrated today.”
Image © PDSA