The Victoria Cross for animals

The Dickin Medal, instituted by Mrs Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals in England, was popularly referred to as "the animals’ VC". It was awarded to any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty associated with, or under the control of, any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during World War II and its aftermath.

Two Australian pigeons being awarded the Dickin medal in 1947
The Dickin medal– the Victoria Cross for animals– being awarded in 1947 to two Australian pigeons.
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At least two Australian carrier pigeons attached to the Australian Army have received the Dickin Medal:

  • Blue bar cock No. 139:D/D:43:T Detachment 10 Pigeon Section (Type B) attached to Detachment 55 Port Craft Company, Madang 12 July 1945. Awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry carrying a message through a severe tropical storm thereby bringing help to an army boat with a vital cargo, in danger of foundering.
  • Blue chequer cock No. 879:D/D: 43: Q Loft No. 5 of 1 Australian Pigeon Section, attached to the US forces, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands 5th April 1944. Awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry carrying a message through heavy fire thereby bringing relief to a Patrol surrounded and attacked by the enemy without other means of communication.

Corporal Rayner reading a message removed from the container on the leg of the pigeon he is holding
Corporal G.R. Rayner of No.3 Section (HQ) Carrier Pigeon Unit No.17 Loft, reading a message removed from the container seen on the bird's leg.
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Source

PDSA Dickin Medal

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