Horrie the Wog Dog, the four-legged mascot and campaigner attached to the 2/1st Machine Gun ...

Accession Number 076877
Collection type Photograph
Object type 4x5", Nitrate, Silver Gelatin
Physical description 4x5", Nitrate, Silver Gelatin
Place made Syria
Date made 1941
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Horrie the Wog Dog, the four-legged mascot and campaigner attached to the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion, seen here standing on a fuel can wearing his Corporal's uniform. 'Horrie the Wog Dog' was a white Egyptian terrier cross puppy who was found in the Ikingi Mariut area of the Western Desert by VX13091 Private (Pte) James (Jim) Bell Moody, a despatch rider with 2/1 Machine Gun Battalion.


Horrie the Wog Dog was a white Egyptian terrier cross puppy found in the Ikingi Mariut area of the Western Desert by VX13091 Private James 'Jim' Bell Moody, a despatch rider attached to 2/1 Machine Gun Battalion. Jim took him back to his signals platoon but Horrie was soon adopted by the entire battalion. He went on route marches and accompanied the commanding officer on parade. He was promoted to honorary corporal and assigned the service number 'EX1' (No 1 Egyptian soldier). Horrie travelled in Moody's kitbag when the battalion moved to Greece. His acute hearing meant that he could give the men early warning of approaching German aircraft. Evacuated to Crete on the 'Costa Rica', Horrie survived the sinking of the ship and narrowly escaped being crushed between two life boats. On Crete he acted as a messenger dog. Outlying patrols tied a handkerchief containing a message around his neck and he returned to Moody in the olive groves below.

During the evacuation of Crete, Horrie was wounded by shrapnel. In Palestine he suffered from the effects of severe cold and snow during winter and this coat was made for him to keep him warm. Here he met Imshe the female terrier mascot of another unit. In February 1942 Moody had Horrie checked by a vet in Tel Aviv before the battalion returned to Australia via Suez. He adapted his pack (RELAWM32387) so that Horrie could be carried concealed in it and trained the dog to travel quietly in it. Jim strapped his helmet over the back of the pack to conceal the ventilation holes he had cut in it. On the troop ship returning home Moody or one of his friends stayed with Horrie at all times ready to conceal him. Imshe and a cat mascot were discovered on the ship, and both were killed in accordance with quarantine regulations. Horrie was smuggled off the ship in Adelaide and sent to live with Jim Moody's father in Melbourne while Jim served in New Guinea.

Moody was discharged in February 1945 and Horrie went to live in Sydney with him. Author Ion Idriess had written a book about Horrie, based on Moody's accounts, that was to be published later in the year. On 13 February an article publicising the book, with photos of Idriess and the dog was syndicated to a number of newspapers, which brought the story to the attention of Quarantine Officials.

Two accounts exist of Horrie's fate once he came to their attention. The first, documented in official and unofficial accounts, has him handed over to the Quarantine Department on 9 March and destroyed by them at 4pm on 12 March 1945 using hydrogen cyanide (although he is reported as being shot in Australian newspapers). A few weeks after the department started to investigate the case, Moody visited the Quarantine Department with two men form the Criminal Investigation Branch on 1 March to discuss the situation. He agreed to hand Horrie over but stated the dog had been returned to Melbourne and that he would have him brought back to Sydney to hand him over on 9 March. They believed Horrie was still in Sydney and that Moody was hiding him. This was later confirmed by an interview they conducted with his father in St Kilda, who believed Horrie had remained in Sydney.

After the visit to Quarantine, Moody appears to have sought legal and medical advice about Horrie and what his options were if the dog was handed in. He also wrote to the Director of Veterinary Hygiene, R N Wardle asking him to spare Horrie and saying he was willing to face any punishment for his part in the illegal importation.

Australia and New Zealand were the only countries that did not have rabies and it was one of the big fears of illegal importation of animals from the Middle East. During the course of the investigation, the Department noted in their files and correspondence that Horrie had been in Australia long enough that he did not pose a risk of rabies. On 14 March Wardle wrote in a letter "As you will fully appreciate, the dog was, of course, by this time of no risk of being infected with Rabies, but action was taken in order to uphold the control exercised under the Quarantine Act". Detaining an illegally imported animal did not automatically mean it would be destroyed. There was provision in the Act for an animal not to be put down if it was disease free, which Horrie was. However, with the number of soldiers returning from overseas and the potential for diseased animals to be brought into the country, Wardle made the recommendation on 5 March that Horrie be destroyed. This would set an example and hopefully deter any future illegal importation of animals by servicemen. This was approved by the Minister for Health and Social Services, J M Fraser on 7 March. On 10 March, after Horrie was handed over, Wardle gave the authorisation to staff at the Quarantine Station at Abbotsford for him to be destroyed.

Moody visited Horrie on 11 March and found him happily lying with one of his socks. There appears to have been no indication from staff that Horrie was to be put down. The next day, Moody was rung at 3.55 pm and only given five minutes¿ notice that Horrie was to be destroyed. He later claimed he had been officially told by Agriculture and Quarantine staff that Horrie would not be automatically destroyed and he would have 48 hours¿ notice if the dog was to be killed, during which time he could take legal steps to contest the decision. This was later disputed by the Quarantine Department. Horrie¿s death was reported in the press within days and public outrage followed. Abusive letters were sent to Wardle and other staff at the Quarantine Department. A wreath was laid on Anzac Day at the Sydney Cenotaph for many years in Horrie's memory.

Nearly sixty years later another story of Horrie's fate was revealed, confirmed by two of Jim Moody's children and by one of his fellow soldiers in the signal platoon. Moody told them that in the week before Horrie was surrendered, he searched the Dog Pound for a look-alike dog. Having located one, he bought it for five shillings and surrendered this substitute 'Horrie' instead. The real Horrie was said to have lived out his life near Corryong in northern Victoria where he is said to have sired many puppies, although it is possible these puppies were confused with those of Imshe II, the dog Moody bought after Horrie's death.

Either way, on 12 March 1945 a small white dog was destroyed at the Quarantine Station at Abbotsford. The Quarantine Department were very keen to press charges against Moody for his illegal importation of Horrie. However, the Deputy Commonwealth Crown Solicitors advised that under the Quarantine Act, the time limit for prosecution was six months after the event. As it had been over three years, Moody was free to get on with his life.