Animals bring us love and joy with their companionship – and in times of war,they’ve been known to serve and protect us too.
This ANZAC Day, we’d like to pay tribute to the Australian animals who riskedtheir lives in wars to help their humans. From explosive detection dogs towinged warriors, here are some of our favourite stories.
Sarbi the EDD
Sarbi was a Labrador Newfoundland crossbreed employed by the AustralianDefence Force during the war in Afghanistan. She was an Explosive DetectionDog (EDD) with the Special Operations Engineers Regiment.
Sarbi went missing in the Uruzgan province on 2 September 2008 when theTaliban ambushed Australian, US and Afghan troops. During the nine-hourbattle, the harness that kept Sarbi tied to her handler was shot and,presumably spooked by the explosion, she ran off.
After troops searched high and low for Sarbi, she was declared missing.Thirteen months passed before a US soldier miraculously spotted her in a localvillage – well fed and looked after. After negotiating to get her back, Sarbiwas reunited with her handler Corporal David Simpson and lived out the rest ofher days by his side in Australia.
She received the RSPCA Purple Cross Award and War Dog Operational Medal forher astounding bravery.
Sadly, Sarbi passed away in 2015 but her memory lives on at the Australian WarMemorial. Curator of the AWM Jane Peek told the ABC that many EDDs just likeSarbi have saved the lives of Australian soldiers.
Bill the B*stard
Despite his less-than-flattering name, Bill was a much-celebrated horse whoserved Australia in WWI. Him and his rider Major Michael Shanahan saved thelives of four Tasmanian soldiers during the Battle of Romani on 5 August 1915.
He draws his nickname from his reported stubbornness – Bill was originallydeemed unrideable and delegated to be a pack horse. It wasn’t until Shanahanwon him over with whispers, patience and liquorice all-sorts that he wasridden into battle.
Bill was one of 130,000 Australian horses who valiantly served in WWI. Famouswar poet Banjo Patterson wrote of the war hero, “You can’t lead Bill theB*stard to anything and you certainly can’t make him drink.”
ANZAC legend John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey took wounded soldiersfrom battle to be cared for at the beach. As the story goes, the pair dodgedgunfire in order to get their fellow men to safety. It’s estimated they helped300 people.
According to the Australian War Memorial, Simpson’s donkey was named eitherMurphy, Abdul or Duffy.
During WWII, Pigeon Q879 from the Australian Army Signal Corps successfullydelivered a call for help from an attack by Japanese troops.
When US marine control came across the Japanese army camping on Manus Island,a fight broke out between the opposing sides and the US released their flockof pigeons to notify fellow soldiers at the base. Q879 was set free with threeother birds but he was the only one who made it back, in a record 47 minutes.
Historian Dr Meleah Hampton spoke about the importance of pigeons forcommunicating during wartime.
“There are lots of stories of pigeons valiantly going forward and savingpeople’s lives,” Dr Hampton said. “Nobody really knows if they are just doingwhat they are trained to do or if they are truly winged warriors. But they area tool that we have been able to use to our advantage, and they have beenincredibly valuable in wartime.”
Pigeon Q879 received the Dickin Medal for his brave efforts.
Lest we forget.
Image source:‘Sarbi – EDD Private Sarbi’ official Facebook page
Simpson (right) and his donkey. Image source:Wikipedia
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