POW pooch stars in Auckland exhibition
stars in Auckland exhibitionMARYKE PENMAN
The story of a dog who became an official prisoner of war after her ship was torpedoed by the Japanese and was later awarded a medal for helping other prisoners is one of the star attractions at an unusual exhibition in Auckland this weekend.
The English pointer, called Judy, was one of many four-legged Navy mascots that will be celebrated in the Mates and Mascots exhibition at Torpedo Bay Navy Museum.
The exhibition tells stories of the many beloved pets who made their homes on navy ships up until the 1970s.
Bears, pythons, goats, snakes, cats and dogs were once welcomed as shipmates until a Royal Navy decree in 1975 banned them for health and safety reasons.
Torpedo Bay Navy Museum educator Anna Hodson said her favourite tale uncovered through interviews with navy veterans and other research was that of Judy.
The pure-bred English pointer was one of the first to receive the animal version of the Victoria Cross, the Dickin Medal, for her service to prisoners of war during World War II.
Judy served as a mascot on HMS Grasshopper when it was torpedoed in 1942. She escaped overboard with 75 crew members before being captured by the Japanese and transferred to a prison camp in Indonesia.
Prisoner of war Frank Williams adopted Judy who, in return for a share of his daily rations, would alert prisoners to scorpions, snakes and approaching guards.
Judy would bark and bite to distract the guards, giving the prisoners much-needed reprieve from torture.
Mr Williams later managed to convince a drunk commandant to make Judy an official prisoner of war.
While being transferred to Singapore with other prisoners their ship was torpedoed and Mr Williams pushed Judy through a porthole to safety.
Mr Williams was recaptured and taken to a new prison camp, thinking he had lost her forever.
Remarkably Judy showed up at the camp shortly afterwards and was reunited with Mr Williams. The pair remained together long after the war ended until Judy died, aged 13.
Judy's story, and many other previously untold stories, will be on show at the museum this Saturday.
How does your household celebrate Easter?