September 11, 2015 | Posted in War Dogs

Judy_hu_42990Judy was a liver and white pointer who lived from 1936 to 1950 and saw enough adventure in her youth to give her a rich stock of stories to tell her litters; i.e. if dogs do indeed tell their pups stories to make them go to sleep and keep them from getting into mischief.


Judy began life in a dog kennel in Shanghai, China. In the fall of 1936, Judy was purchased from the kennel by the captain of HMS Gnat and handed over to the crew who adopted Judy as the ship’s mascot. The original intention was to train her into becoming a gundog that would assist the men on their hunts, when ashore. However, entries on the ship’s log show that the crew had little hope of success and from the very beginning Judy did not really display the traits that gundogs exhibit.  Pointers, btw, have traditionally been used as gundogs.

Judy was lucky to be put under the care of able seaman Jan “Tankey” Cooper who was the ship’s butcher. One can imagine him treating Judy some choice cuts of meat. Judy escaped a drowning when once she fell overboard, the ship was stopped and a powerboat lowered to get her back onboard. That was the kind of bond she shared with the crew.

Judy more than made up for her inability as a gundog by warning the ship’s crew on several occasions of approaching danger. Once her timely notice helped the ship’s crew defeat river pirates who were about to attack under the cover of darkness.

In 1938, a brief dalliance with a pointer from the gunboat Francis Garnier led to Judy having a litter of 13 pups. In June of 1939 Judy, along with some of the crew of HMS Gnat, was transferred to HMS Grasshopper. Following the Battle of Singapore, the Grasshopper was one of the two big British ships to have escaped strafing and bombing raids by Japanese airplanes. But this changed when the Grasshopper was targeted by fighter planes of the Japanese air force and had to be abandoned despite Judy’s early warning of the approaching planes.

The ship’s crew made it to a deserted island. Very soon, they discovered that there was no drinking water to be found. Judy, with her keen sense of smell, began digging at a spot and in a few minutes of pawing dug up a spring of fresh, drinkable water! She had saved the lives of all those men.

The crew managed to get off the island but was captured by the Japanese before they could reach their destination – Padang. Along with Judy, the crew became prisoners of war at the Gloergoer camp in Medan. Judy is, till date, the only known dog to have been made an official prisoner of war. Indeed, she even had a death sentence passed on her because she would distract and harry the Japanese soldiers when they would punish the POWs. Her POW identity in the camp was ’81A Gloergoer, Medan’. In the camp, Judy was adopted by Frank Williams, with whom she traveled to the United Kingdom after the war and lived out the remaining years of her life in peace. In 1946, Judy was awarded the Dickin Medal for her exceptional courage during the time she spent in the POW camp, it was noted that she played an important role helping with the morale of the imprisoned soldiers. The Dickin Medal is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

She spent two years with Frank in East Africa where she died in 1950, at the age of thirteen years. Frank, who credited Judy with giving him the strength to live through the POW camp, had a granite memorial erected in her memory in Tanganyika, now Tanzania.