Judy, the liver and white-colored pointer, captured the hearts of the nation during the Second World War with her heroic acts and time spent as an official Prisoner of War. As the ship’s mascot on board the gunboat HMS Gnat, Judy proved her worth by alerting sailors to the presence of river pirates and hostile Japanese aircraft. She later transferred to the gunboat HMS Grasshopper, where she saved the lives of her compatriots by finding fresh water on a deserted island. Unfortunately, Judy and the survivors were taken as prisoners by the Japanese and sent to a camp in Medan, North Sumatra. It was there that Judy formed a bond with Leading Aircraftman Frank Williams, who shared his meager rations with her. Judy’s bravery and loyalty continued throughout her time in captivity, and she eventually returned to Britain as a national hero.
Judy’s Early Life
Judy, a pure-bred pointer, became the ship’s mascot on board the gunboat HMS Gnat in 1936. Although initially unsuccessful as a gundog, Judy soon proved her worth by alerting sailors to potential dangers such as river pirates and hostile Japanese aircraft. Her superior sense of hearing and keen instincts made her an invaluable asset to the ship’s company.
Judy’s Heroic Acts
Judy’s first major act of heroism occurred when she was on board the gunboat HMS Grasshopper in 1942. After the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft, Judy and the survivors were forced to abandon ship and find refuge on a deserted island in the South China Sea. With no fresh water supply, the situation looked dire for the stranded sailors. However, Judy’s incredible instincts led her to dig a hole and find fresh water, ultimately saving the lives of her compatriots.
Life as a Prisoner of War
After the survivors of HMS Grasshopper and HMS Dragonfly were taken into custody by the Japanese, Judy remained by the side of Leading Aircraftman Frank Williams. She protected him and the other Prisoners of War by distracting the camp guards during punishments. When the prisoners were told they would be heading to Singapore on board the SS Van Warwyck, the Japanese refused to allow Judy on board. However, the prisoners were determined to keep Judy with them and devised a plan to smuggle her onto the ship in a sack. This act of defiance ultimately saved Judy’s life.
Judy’s Brush with Death
On June 26, 1944, the SS Van Warwyck was torpedoed by a British submarine, unaware that it was carrying Allied prisoners of war. Amidst the chaos and destruction, Judy managed to escape unscathed. She even helped save the lives of those who couldn’t swim by pushing pieces of wood towards them. Eventually, the survivors swam towards a Japanese tanker and Judy was hauled aboard. However, the Japanese guards planned to kill her upon reaching land. Fortunately, the former commander of the prisoner of war camp intervened and ordered that Judy be listed as an official Prisoner of War, ensuring her safety and eligibility for rations.
Judy’s Return to Britain
After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Judy returned to Britain with Frank Williams. She was met with national adoration and awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, the highest honor an animal can receive, for her bravery and devotion during her time as a prisoner of war. The citation praised Judy’s courage and endurance in the Japanese prison camps, which helped maintain morale among fellow prisoners and saved many lives through her intelligence and watchfulness.
Judy remained with Frank until her death on February 17, 1960. She was buried in Tanzania, where Frank was working at the time. In tribute to his beloved companion, Frank built a monument at Judy’s grave and attached a large metal plaque detailing her remarkable life and daring feats. Judy’s story continues to inspire and remind us of the incredible bond between humans and animals, especially in times of conflict.
Judy, the dog who became a prisoner of war, is a true hero of the Second World War. Her bravery, loyalty, and heroic acts saved countless lives and served as a source of inspiration for her fellow prisoners. Judy’s story reminds us of the unwavering bond between humans and animals and the incredible feats they can achieve together. Her legacy lives on, and her memory will forever be cherished as a symbol of courage and devotion.