The medals of a military dog, who was recognised for his courage and outstanding service during the second World War, a service which included 20 parachute descents, are to be sold at a fair in London.
Rob, a black and white collie-retriever, was purchased as a pup in Shropshire for five shillings in 1939 and worked as a farm dog for the Bayne family. They volunteered him as a war dog in 1942 and from 1943, following action in North Africa, the canine served with the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS), becoming the first war dog to do so.
Rob undertook 20 parachute descents while serving with the infantry in North Africa and the 2nd SAS regiment in Italy, where he parachuted in on sabotage missions. He was awarded the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) Dickin Medal for Gallantry, otherwise known as the Victoria Cross for animals, along with the RSPCA Red Collar for Valour, for his courage and service. These medals are being sold through Noonans in Mayfair, London on October 12th.
Christopher Mellor-Hill, head of client liaison at Noonans commented: “Rob the parachuting dog is the most famous of all the Dickin Medal recipients and we are delighted to be offering his medals on behalf of the family who owned him. Rob was the first war dog attached to the SAS to be awarded the ‘animal VC’, and was reportedly the only war dog to have been nominated for the Dickin Medal by the War Office.”
Demobilised on November 27th, 1945, Rob led the Wembley Parade of 32 war dogs on July 16th, 1947 in front of 100,000 spectators, and was the only dog present to have both the Dickin Medal and RSPCA Red Collar and Medallion of Valour. He was featured on the front cover of the Radio Times and the auction house believes it to be the most important Dickin Medal to ever be sold at auction.
Only one cat has ever been awarded the medal, while four horses, 34 dogs and incredibly, 32 were granted to pigeons in respect of acts of bravery in the second World War. More recently, a number have been made to arms and explosive search dogs for their gallantry in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Expected to fetch between £20,000-£30,000 (€22,240-€33,630), in Noonans sale of Orders, Decorations Medals and Militaria, the medal and collar are being sold with an extensive archive including his collar, a portrait painting, photographs, manuscripts and letters.
They are being sold by Basil Baynes from Co Antrim, son of Rob’s original owner, who learned to walk by holding the dog’s tail.
“Following his wartime exploits, Rob was returned to us and settled back into life on the farm, occasionally making public appearances to help raise funds for returning prisoners of war and their families.”
The wartime hero disappeared in 1948 for five days with Judy, a spaniel. He returned in an emaciated condition without his regular collar, which was found years later by a farmer hooked around the root of a tree. The canine had strained and lost weight until he could slip the collar over his head and run home. Rob died in 1952, aged 12. noonans.co.uk