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Military Animal Heroes Lauded As Dickin Medal Turns 75

The 75th anniversary of the PDSA Dickin Medal is being celebrated at London's Imperial War Museum.

The 75th anniversary of the first animal award for bravery, the PDSA Dickin Medal, is being celebrated at London's Imperial War Museum.

Its recipients include 34 dogs, 32 pigeons, four horses and one cat.

Mali, a retired British military working dog, is the only living recipient of the award.

The Belgian Malinois was awarded the Dickin Medal after a deployment in Afghanistan. Whilst there Mali searched for explosives under direct fire on two occasions and was seriously injured by grenade blasts.

Created 75 years ago by animal charity worker, Maria Dickin, the Dickin Medal bears the inscription "We Also Serve" and is considered by some as the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Since its inception, it has been awarded 71 times, mostly to dogs, horses and pigeons.

Dickin medal

To date, Mali the dog is the only living recipient of the Dickin Medal – most other awards were made for service during the Second World War or posthumously.

However other animals made the journey to represent medal winners who could not represent themselves: on behalf of horses came Upstart, a Metropolitan police horse, named after a Dickin Medal winner.

Meanwhile, Gremlin the cat was representing fellow feline Simon, who was awarded a medal in 1949 after serving aboard HMS Amethyst during the Yangtse Incident; he had continued to kill rats despite being wounded by a shell blast.