Judy was the mascot of several ships in the Pacific. She was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and taken to a prison camp. There she met Leading Aircraftsman Frank Williams who shared his small portion of rice with her. Judy raised morale in the POW camp giving alarm when poisonous snakes, crocodiles and even tigers approached. She was smuggled out in a rice sack when the prisoners were shipped back to Singapore. She never whimpered or betrayed her presence to the guards. The next day, the ship was torpedoed. Williams pushed Judy out of a porthole in an attempt to save her life, even though there was a 15 feet drop to the sea. He made his own escape from the ship, not knowing if Judy had survived.
Frank Williams was recaptured and was sent to a new POW camp without news of Judy’s survival. However, stories began being told of a dog helping drowning men reach pieces of debris on which to hold. Williams was giving up hope of finding Judy when she arrived in his new camp. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. As I entered the camp, a scraggy dog hit me square between the shoulders and knocked me over! I’d never been so glad to see the old girl.” They spent a year in Sumatra. “She saved my life in so many ways. The greatest way of all was giving me a reason to live. All I had to do was look at her and into those weary, bloodshot eyes and I would ask myself: What would happen to her if I died? I had to keep going.” Even if it meant waiting for a miracle.
Once hostilities ceased, Judy was smuggled aboard a troopship heading to Liverpool. In England, she was awarded the Dickin Medal, “the animals’ Victoria Cross”, in May 1946. Her citation reads: “For magnificent courage and endurance in Japanese prison camps, which helped to maintain morale among her fellow prisoners and also for saving many lives through her intelligence and watchfulness”. At the same time, Frank Williams was awarded the PDSA’s White Cross of St. Giles, the highest award possible, for his devotion to Judy. Frank and Judy spent the year after the war visiting the relatives of English POWs who hadn’t survived. Frank remarked that Judy always seemed to give a comforting presence. Judy died at the age of 13. Frank spent two months building a granite and marble memorial in her memory, which included a plaque which told of her life story.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!