animal victoria cross
During the United States led invasion of Sicily in July 1943, called Operation Husky, US Army dog, Chips and his platoon came under fire as they landed on a beach at dawn. Obviously, dogs made great sentries for the Army, and so were incorporated into the Army for that purpose. Chips was very good at his job and very loyal to his military masters. Fear never figured into Chips actions. If he saw that his platoon was under attack, Chips sprang into action. Chips charged an enemy machine gun to protect his people. His quick action was credited with saving his platoon. When the attack began, the soldiers scrambled to find cover, but Chips broke free from his lead and ran directly to the hut that housed the machine gun. Chips entered the hut, and immediately the shooting stopped. There was no barking or snarling, and no screaming, but momentarily, an enemy soldier appeared with Chips at his throat. Of course, that explained the silence. Neither the enemy soldier or Chips were able to speak or make any noise at that point, because they were otherwise occupied. I can only imagine the thoughts that were going through the enemy soldier’s mind. I would think there would be a large degree of praying for his life. At that point, I suspect the US Army platoon looked like angels sent to free the poor enemy soldier, and a prisoner of war camp might have looked like a relaxing vacation, compared to having his throat ripped out but a viscous German Shepherd dog. The quick and capable action displayed by Chip allowed the platoon to push on with their mission.
Of course, Chips was simply doing his job, and likely thought nothing more of it. He loved these men, and putting his life on the line for them was just what he would do for those he loved. The men he saved, felt very differently about their hero, however. It’s hard not to feel like the being that put itself between you and certain death is very special. At the time, nothing was done to recognize the heroic act of Chips, but the men never forgot what their fellow soldier had done for them. My guess is that Chips got a pat on the head, and maybe a little extra food that night, but it was not enough for what he had done. How could it be?
I guess the Army must have agreed, because Chips was posthumously awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, which is recognized as the “Animal Victoria Cross,” 71 years after his passing, for protecting British troops. Chips was also a sentry at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, where Churchill and Roosevelt met, so he had some experience in sentry duties before his famous act of protection. Chips continued on in his career until 1945. Then he was returned to his family in New York in 1945. Unfortunately, he died the next year…but Chips died a hero.