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War Animals

The Unsung Heroes of World War II
Narrated by: Susan Boyce
Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: History, Military
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

America's highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor, was awarded to 440 deserving members of the "Greatest Generation" that served in World War II. But in 1943, before the war was even over, Allied leaders realized they needed another kind of award to recognize a different kind of World War II hero - animal heroes. 

Founded in 1943, the prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest award an animal can achieve for gallantry and bravery in the field of military conflict. It was given to 55 animals who served valiantly alongside the members of the Greatest Generation.

In War Animals, nationally best-selling author Robin Hutton (Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse) tells the incredible, inspiring true stories of the 55 animal recipients of the PDSA Dickin Medal during WWII and the lesser-known stories of other military animals whose acts of heroism have until now been largely forgotten. These animal heroes include G. I. Joe, who flew 20 miles in 20 minutes and stopped the planes on the tarmac from bombing a town that had just been taken over by allied forces, saving the lives of over 100 British soldiers; Winkie, the first Dickin recipient, who saved members of a downed plane when she flew 129 miles with oil clogged wings with an SOS message that helped a rescue team find the crew; Chips, who served as a sentry dog for the Roosevelt-Churchill conference; and Ding, a paradog whose plane was hit by enemy fire on D-Day, ended up in a tree, and once on the ground still saved lives. 

A heartwarming and sometimes even hilarious history of hero birds, dogs, horses, and more, War Animals is a World War II story you've never heard before.

©2018 Robin Hutton (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Profile Image for N. Rogers
  • N. Rogers
  • 08-01-2020

We Owe Them More Than We Give

I found this book interesting although I disagreed with Robin Hutton's description of many of these animals as "heroes." I don't mean that their service wasn't vital or that we don't owe them great respect, gratitude, and reverence. We certainly do, more far the medals and speeches, monuments and statues we provide in their honor. These animals did not "volunteer" to serve us or to give up their lives in our behalf. They did what was in their inherent natures combined with the training they received from humans. They had no meaningful choice and never gave informed consent. We used them for our own purposes, and when we do that we assume a staggering responsibility. When we require animals to serve our needs, we owe them a good life and the vow to not sell their lives cheaply. Too often working dogs are sent into gun fire when it is unnecessary, when other means would have achieved the same end without risking the animal. We also owe them excellent living conditions where their physical and emotional needs are fully met. Too often this is not done citing "lack of adequate funding." And that is a travesty. We have no right to ask of these creatures more than we are willing to do for them. I do support the use of working animals, but please let's not pretend that it is their choice to serve. It is ours. They are amazing in their capabilities and we need to remember that, to view their contributions as essential to us. Our obligation to them is greater than theirs to us because we are cognizant of the price to be extracted, and they are not. I also found it instructive that many of the dogs "loaned" for military use in Britain by their owners during WWII were turned over to the government because severe food rationing made it literally impossible for their families to provide for them. The United States also had a similar donation program and families did give up their pets for service, but in Britain the program was larger and more extensive. This is an important book for us to read, animal advocates as well as those less invested in the subject. We are all responsible because we all benefit from the sacrifices of these animals. We owe them much, and the examples in this book illustrate some of that. We need to understand what we are asking and to be fully aware that they are not given a choice. For me that rises above heroics because heroes understand the risks, and so they have the benefit of knowing that potential sacrifice can also have great benefit. The animals do what is asked of them because of training and loyalty to their trusted humans. We need to accept that awesome responsibility and honor them with judicious deployment into danger and loving care throughout their entire lives.