September 11, 2015 | Posted in War Dogs
The tale of Horrie the wog dog could serve as the plot for the perfect canine adventure story. Apart from having a lovable name, this Egyptian terrier had loads of character and the charm to inveigle hardened Aussie soldiers in Africa into adopting him.
Horrie was found and adopted by Private Jim Moody of the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion of the Australian Army. This happened in 1941, in the Ikingi Maryut desert that lies outside Alexandria. When found, Horrie was a weak and emaciated puppy who had most likely been abandoned by his owners as they fled Alexandria.
Under Moody’s care, Horrie’s health returned and he was very soon the unofficial mascot of the battalion. With the battalion, Horrie earned his keep by working as a guard dog. Horrie lived an action –packed life from 1941 to 1942, during this period he traveled through Egypt, South Europe, West Asia and finally to Australia. He was given the rank of honorary corporal and also a service number – ‘EX1′.
When allied forces were being evacuated from Greece, Horrie had a narrow shave when the carrier on which he was traveling from was sunk by enemy forces. In Crete, he suffered a wound from exploding shrapnel. When the battalion was stationed in Syria, the dog was issued a coat made for him so that he could withstand the cold nights.
Horrie’s travels to Australia were no less adventurous than his journeys in the war zones. He was lucky that in Moody, he had a pet parent who was not going to leave him behind even in the face of official sanction against introducing dogs from outside into Australia; the quarantine laws were strict and the government feared a rabies outbreak. Moody smuggled Horrie in a canvas traveling pack lined with wooden slats to ensure rigidity and with slits so that the animal could breathe.
Horrie spent three wonderful years in Australia before trouble was inadvertently stirred by a chain of events. A book published on the adventures of the dog – Horrie the wog-dog: with the A.I.F. in Egypt, Greece, Crete and Palestine –created a stir and brought the dog’s existence to the notice of quarantine officials. The book, if you wish to read it, is available online for a free read.
Moody had agreed to come out in the open with Horrie’s remarkable tale because he had thought that three years were enough to fulfill the quarantine laws.
According to one version of events, Horrie was surrendered to the quarantine officials and was put down on 12th March, 1945. This raised a storm among the general populace and R.M Wardle, the then Director of Veterinary Hygiene, Canberra, became the subject of public ire.
According to another version, Horrie cheated death and lived out the rest of his years in the backwoods of Victoria, at a site near Corryong. Moody picked up a look-alike from a dog pound and handed over that animal to the quarantine officials.
Someday, clinching evidence may emerge to settle the matter; till such time we can only read and smile at the incredible journey of this gutsy terrier and the adventures that he took part in.