It is not uncommon to hear stories of Newfoundlands saving people, but one showed bravery beyond what is expected, even from man’s best friend. His name was Gander and he gave his life protecting Canadian soldiers in the war zones of Hong Kong Island during World War II.
In 1940, Gander was a family pet and answered to the name of Pal. This gentle beast was liked in the neighborhood until one day; Pal’s paw accidentally scratched the face of a six year old as he played with the children of his home town. Out of concern for the dog and that the incident could occur again, his owner gave Pal to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Rifles of Canada. His new “neighborhood” called him Gander, after the military base they were responsible for during the war.
Gander with his men.
Photo: Newf Friends
Gander and his men were sent to Hong Kong Island in 1941 where they joined other troops to defend the island against attacks by the Japanese. When they would come near the Canadian section of the beach, Gander welcomed the opponent with menacing barks and efforts at biting their legs.
Another time, Japanese troops were approaching a group of wounded Canadian soldiers and Gander surprised them by charging full force! For some reason, the enemy was reluctant to shoot the dog and the lives of the wounded soldiers were saved.
Gander performed his final act of loyalty during a battle when an enemy grenade landed near a group of Canadian soldiers and out of concern for his men, Gander grabbed the grenade in his mouth and carried it off to where it could not harm them. Unfortunately, the grenade went off in Gander’s mouth, killing him instantly. He had given his life to save the lives of his friends.
He has since been awarded the Dickin Medal, similar to the Victoria Cross given to soldiers of the British Commonwealth for their acts of bravery. Gander was awarded the medal in August, 2000.
References: -Ryan, Mandy. “Gander, The Dog Gets His Due”, Gander Beacon, August 21, 2000. -Tibbo, Frank, “Gander’s Heroic Dog“, Gander Beacon, August 14, 2000. —- www.things4yourdog.com/amazing-dog-stories (researched and written by Jim Cornish, Gander, Newfoundland, Canada