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WINNERS 2016

Rex

Rex cleared a path through a Second World War minefield under fire, but was denied a bravery medal and destroyed when chiefs discovered he was a stray.

rex

Rex was one of thousands of dogs who served on the front line as Britain and her allies battled the Nazis.

At the end of the war, the RSPCA launched a campaign for the most heroic to be honoured with a bravery medal, and the War Office asked soldiers to send in citations for the animals who had served alongside them. Platoon Commander Lt Peter Norbury sent this dispatch from Germany:

British Army of the Rhine: 2 October 1945

Rex 3564/S12 Black Labrador

Has always worked with great zest. Whilst on duty on the Reichswald Forest, he worked under the worst of conditions both overhead and underfoot with complete disregard to the very heavy enemy shelling, he helped to clear a pathway through a thickly sown anti-personnel minefield, so enabling forward troops to proceed without the casualties that would have most certainly have occurred but for his devotion to duty.

Many military dogs had been volunteered by their owners back home, and at the end of the war, there was an attempt to reunite them. Those without owners were not so lucky, and it was discovered Rex had been a stray, he was destroyed, and his medal citation cancelled.  The story of his heroism emerged this year in a new book by military historian Chris Campbell, and his loyalty and bravery are shared by all military animals to this day.