Judy on the deck of HMS Grasshopper
|Other appellation(s)||81A Gloergoer, Medan|
17 February 1950|
|Resting place||Nachingwea, Tanzania|
|Nation from||United Kingdom|
|Known for||Japanese Prisoner of war|
|Appearance||Liver and white markings|
Judy (1936 – 17 February 1950) was a ship's dog on board HMS Gnat and HMS Grasshopper before and during World War II. She helped save the lives of the crew of the Grasshopper following the sinking of the ship, and, once captured by the Japanese, helped the men in the Prisoner-of-war camp. She struck up a friendship with Frank Williams, with whom she spent the rest of her life. She was the only dog to be registered as a Second World War Prisoner of War, and survived for a while in the jungles of Sumatra after the guards had sentenced her to death. Following the war, she came to the United Kingdom with Williams and was awarded the Dickin Medal by the PDSA, considered to be the animals' VC.
Judy was a pure-bred liver and white Pointer. She was born in a dog kennel in Shanghai, China, in 1936. She had escaped as a puppy, and had been kept in a back alley by a shopkeeper until she was six months old. Following an altercation with some sailors from a Japanese Navy gunboat, she was found by a worker from the kennel and returned there. She was originally called Shudi, which was anglicised to become Judy.
In the autumn of 1936, the crew of the Insect class gunboat HMS Gnat voted to get a ship's mascot. This was due in part to the competitive nature of the gunboats, with HMS Bee, Cicada and Cricket already having mascots of their own. The Captain and the Chief Bosun's mate, Lt. Cmdr. J. Waldergrave and Chief Petty Officer Charles Jefferey, purchased Judy from the kennels and presented her to the crew. It was hoped to train her as a gundog, but the men began to treat her like a pet instead, and from her first day Jefferey's log stated that "our chances of making her a trained gundog are very small."
Able seaman Jan "Tankey" Cooper was given the job of being the "Keeper of the Ship's Dog". He was also the ship's butcher. Judy was given an open box and a blanket to sleep on, and trained which areas she could not enter. One of these were the areas inhabited by the Chinese cooks, who disliked her. In November 1936, she fell overboard into the Yangtze River and was spotted by Jefferey. The ship was called to a full stop and a power boat deployed to retrieve her. The incident was recorded in the ship's log as a man overboard exercise. After undergoing trials following a refit, the Gnat met up with the Ladybird, who also had a ship's dog. However Judy had to be kept away as while it took a fancy to her, she did not care for it. In the early morning after the Ladybird departed, Judy alerted the ship to the presence of river pirates who were about to board the Gnat in the darkness. The attack was easily repelled as the pirates lost the surprise element. Several days later, Judy was taken ashore with a shooting party for the first time but she was unsuccessful as a gundog. Throughout her stay on the Gnat, the crew repeatedly tried to use her as a gundog, each time resulting in a failure.
Judy was known for pointing out the approach of hostile Japanese aircraft long before any of the human crew could hear them. This first occurred prior to the outbreak of war, when the aircraft would fly low over the Gnat with Judy barking at them until they had passed. On an outing to Jiujiang, Jefferey took Judy for a walk outside of the city but she ran ahead, pulling him with him. He realised as he looked back that she had been pulling him away from a Leopard. In November 1937, the Gnat met with the American river gunboat USS Panay. After the Panay held a party for the two ship's companies, the Gnat crew departed and only realised afterwards that Judy was not with them. They contacted the Panay via signal lamp, but they insisted that they had not seen her. The following morning, the crew heard from a Chinese trader that Judy was on board the Panay after all. In retaliation, a party boarded the American vessel and stole the ship's bell. Afterwards they contacted the Panay and offered them the bell back in return for Judy. She was returned within the hour.
In early 1938, both Jefferey and Cooper were sent back to Britain as part of the crew rotation. While docked in Hankou, Judy took a liking to another Pointer onboard a French gunboat Francis Garnier. The two ship's companies held an impromptu wedding ceremony for the two dogs. The French pointer, Paul, remained on the Gnat for three days before returning to his ship. Judy fell pregnant, and gave birth to thirteen puppies. Ten of them survived and were eventually given away to a variety of sources including the Francis Garnier and the American gunboat USS Guam. Judy was involved in an incident in October that year that resulted in the ending of her trips ashore in Hankou. Whilst being walked by two sailors from the Gnat, they were confronted by Japanese soldiers who pointed a loaded rifle at Judy. One of the soldiers was thrown into the Yangtze River. During the following days, several Japanese officers came on board the Gnat and it was decided that it would be better for Judy to stay on the ship.
In June 1939, several Locust class gunboats arrived on the Yangtze to take over operations from the existing Insect class vessels. Part of the crew of the Gnat transferred to HMS Grasshopper, including Judy. Following the British declaration of war on Germany in September that year, several of the river gunboats, Grasshopper included, were redeployed to the British base at Singapore. Judy was initially sea sick, but the crew ensured that she was properly exercised and by the time the ship arrived on station, she had recovered.
Initially the stay at Singapore was peaceful, and Judy stayed with a customs official and his family for a week ashore. The ship was rarely deployed until January 1942 when it was deployed with other gunboats to provide covering bombardments along the coast of Malaya for retreating troops, and occasionally to carry out evacuations. The Battle of Singapore took place between 8–15 February. By 11 February, Grasshopper and its sister ship Dragonfly were the largest vessels left at Singapore. On 13 February, the vessels were ordered to evacuate personnel and leave Singapore. The ships left at 9pm that evening, and travelled together.
The ships headed for Sinkep Island, hoping that the island group it sat in could be used as a hiding place. As they approached, Judy indicated the approach of Japanese aircraft and the anti-aircraft gunners took up their positions in readiness. The Grasshopper was hit with a single bomb before the planes departed. Judy was below decks when the planes returned. The Dragonfly was hit by three bombs and sank quickly. The Grasshopper was hit by a further two bombs, and the order was given to abandon ship as a fire spread close to an ammunition compartment. Boats were lowered and the crew and evacuees were ferried just over a hundred yards to shore whilst the Japanese planes strafed the vessels. It was only when they were ashore that they realised that Judy was not with them.
The island, turned out to be uninhabited with little food and no apparent water. After a camp had been set up ashore, Petty Officer George White was sent back to the still floating Grasshopper to scavenge supplies. He boarded the vessel and descended below decks to search for any items that might be of use. Whilst there, he felt Judy in the darkness, trapped under a row of lockers. He constructed a raft out of materials on the Grasshopper and rowed the items, along with Judy, back to the island. The lack of water was becoming an issue, until Judy began to dig at a point on the waterline. It took a couple of minutes, but Judy managed to unearth a fresh-water spring and was credited with saving everyone's lives. The crew, along with Judy, commandeered a Chinese junk and managed to sail to Sumatra. They then embarked on a 200-mile cross-country trek across the island in an attempt to reach Padang. Several miles from their destination, they walked into a Japanese-held village and were captured.
Prisoner of war
The crew became prisoners of war and smuggled Judy along with them, hidden under empty rice sacks, for five days during the journey to the Gloergoer prisoner of war camp in Medan. Chief Petty Officer Leonard Williams recorded, "thus began 3-4 years of the most horrific labour, torture, starvation and every degradation the Japanese could inflict on us". Once Judy arrived in the Medan camp, she met Leading Aircraftman Frank Williams (1919–2006), who adopted her and shared his daily handful of rice from August 1942 onwards. In the camp Judy would intervene by distracting the guards when they were administering punishment. She was the only animal to have been officially registered as a prisoner of war during the Second World War, after Frank William's intervention to protect the dog from the guards, who would often threaten to shoot Judy as the dog growled and barked at them. Williams managed to convince the camp Commandant, who was drunk on sake, to sign the registration papers with the promise of one of Judy's future puppies.
Judy's official prisoner-of-war name was '81A Gloergoer, Medan'. During her stay at the camp, she would alert the prisoners to the approach of the Japanese guards and also if other animals such as snakes or scorpions were around. When Judy had puppies, one was given to the camp Commandant as promised. Another puppy was smuggled into the women's camp along with any food that the men could spare.
In June 1944, the men were transferred to Singapore aboard the SS Van Warwyck. Dogs were not allowed on board, but Frank Williams managed to teach Judy to lie still and silent inside a rice sack. When he boarded the ship, Judy climbed into a sack and Williams slung it over his shoulder to take on board. For three hours the men were forced to stand on deck in the searing heat, and for the entire time Judy remained still and silent in the bag on Wiliams's back. The conditions on board the ship were cramped with more than 700 prisoners. On 26 June 1944, the ship was torpedoed. Williams pushed Judy out of a porthole in an attempt to save her life, even though there was a 15 feet (4.6 m) drop to the sea. He made his own escape from the ship, not knowing if Judy had survived.
Frank Williams was recaptured and was sent to a new camp without news of Judy's survival. However, stories began being told of a dog helping drowning men reach pieces of debris on which to hold, and others recalled how the dog would bring them flotsam to keep them afloat. The dog would also allow men to hold onto her back while swimming them to safety.
Williams was giving up hope of finding Judy when she arrived in his new camp. "I couldn’t believe my eyes. As I entered the camp, a scraggy dog hit me square between the shoulders and knocked me over! I’d never been so glad to see the old girl. And I think she felt the same!" They spent a year in Sumatra, with the Japanese using the men to cut through the jungle to lay railway track. Rations were a handful of maggot-ridden tapioca a day, which Frank continued to share with Judy. Frank credits Judy with saving his life during his time spent there, "She saved my life in so many ways. The greatest way of all was giving me a reason to live. All I had to do was look at her and into those weary, bloodshot eyes and I would ask myself: What would happen to her if I died? I had to keep going. Even if it meant waiting for a miracle."
The guards had grown tired of the dog and sentenced her to death. She managed to hide out in the jungle where she supplemented her diet with snakes, rats and monkeys. One incident with an alligator left her injured.
Post war and awards
Once hostilities ceased, Judy was smuggled aboard a troopship heading to Liverpool. With the help of the troops with which she had been imprisoned, Judy managed to avoid the dock police and was delivered into the care of the ship's cook, who ensured that she was fed on the voyage home. Upon her return to the UK, Judy stayed for six months in quarantine in Hackbridge, Surrey.
She was awarded the Dickin Medal, "the animals' VC", in May 1946 by Major Viscount Tarbat MC, chairman of the Returned British POW Association, and was enrolled as the association's only canine member. Her citation reads: "For magnificent courage and endurance in Japanese prison camps, which helped to maintain morale among her fellow prisoners and also for saving many lives through her intelligence and watchfulness". At the same time, Frank Williams was awarded the PDSA's White Cross of St. Giles, the highest award possible, for his devotion to Judy.
She was interviewed by the BBC for their coverage of the London Victory Celebrations of 1946 on 8 June and her barks were broadcast to the nation on the radio. Frank and Judy spent the year after the war visiting the relatives of PoWs who hadn't survived; Frank remarked that Judy always seemed to give a comforting presence.
On 10 May 1948, the pair left to work on a government-funded food scheme in East Africa. After two years there, Judy was discovered to have a tumour, and was put to sleep at the age of 13. Frank spent two months building a granite and marble memorial in her memory, which included a plaque which told of her life story.
On 27 February 1972, Judy was remembered in church services across Gosport and Portsmouth, and in 1992 her story was featured in the British children's TV show Blue Peter. In 2006 her collar and medal went on public display for the first time in the Imperial War Museum, London, as part of "The Animals' War" exhibition. It was presented to the IWM by Alan Williams, Frank's son.
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