We’re very happy to have a Dickin Medal on display in the Museum for the next 6 months. This is one of only 3 on display in the country and one of only 71 Dickin Medals in existence. This particular medal was awarded to a pigeon called Dutch Coast, he was on board a Lancaster Bomber which went down in the North Sea in 1942. He flew 288 miles over 7 hours in terrible weather. He delivered his message and the lives of all the crew were saved as a result of is actions.
In 1943, Maria Dickin, the Founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (a charity known as the PDSA) created the Dickin Medal to honour the work done by animals in World War Two and to recognise their conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty. Since its introduction in 1943, the Dickin Medal has been awarded just 71 times: 31 dogs, 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat have been awarded. We are very honoured to have the Dickin Medal here on loan to The Devils Porridge Museum from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association.
Animals have been used in war for thousands of years. Over 16 million animals served in the First World War. Cats and dogs were trained to hunt the giant rats that infested the trenches. By 1918, 8 million horses would lie dead in the mud, many next to soldiers they served with. The use of cavalry in war declined after World War One but animals remain an important part of the Armed Forces.
The War Memorial which we have outside the Museum was gifted to us by the Animals in War Group, Carlisle in 2015, as a lasting permanent reminder of the enormous sacrifice made by animals in war.