War Animals: The Unsung Heroes of World War II tells the story of American and Allied dogs, horses, mules, birds, and a cat that assisted the war effort as part of the Greatest Generation. Bestselling author Robin Hutton brings these stories to readers in an entertaining manner while interspersing historical facts important and necessary in this kind of work. This is not just another animal book; it’s a book of war hero animals’ contributions to winning World War II.
Hutton captures the animal personalities, and particularly in the cases of the dogs, shows the tremendous power of the human and animal bond. She educates readers on how countries initiated the animal recruitment and training programs, and includes quotes and research from animal organizations and war departments demonstrating a truly combined effort to use every available asset to achieve the impossible goals.
The author recognizes the sacrifices ordinary citizens made in giving up their beloved pets for duty and follows the pets through their time in service. She does a phenomenal job in painstakingly documenting the recognition these heroes earned and includes photographs of many receiving their respected Dickins Medals. The collection of photographs complimented the work tremendously and leaves a lasting impression on readers.
Extremely well-researched and documented, War Animals is an important and one-of-a-kind compilation of World War II history. The fact that it is also written like a series of movie scenes makes this work that much more enjoyable. The reader gets to know the animals, their owners, their handlers, and their fans, and their many varied exploits. The author does not gloss over the realities of war but manages to bring light and much-deserved recognition to heroic war animals and those who cared for them.
Review by Valerie Ormond (April 2019)
War Dogs * War Birds * War Horses & Mules * And a War ... Cat!
Millions rallied to the cause of freedom against Nazism and the menace of Imperial Japan. But did you know that some of those heroes had fur, or feathers? War animals guarded American coasts against submarine attack, dug out Londoners trapped in bomb wreckage, and carried vital messages under heavy fire on Pacific islands. They kept up morale, rushed machine gun nests, and even sacrificed themselves picking up live grenades.
This book tells the heart-warming stories of the dogs, horses, mules, pigeons—and even one cat—who did their bit for the war effort. American and British families volunteered beloved family pets and farm dogs when rationing made it difficult to feed them; President Roosevelt, bought honorary commissions in the reserves for lapdogs and other pets not suitable for military duties to “exempt” them from war service and raise money to defeat Hitler and Tojo. Many of these gallant animals are recipients of the prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal, the “Animals’ Victoria Cross.”
ISBN/ASIN: hardcover 1621576582, paperback 1621579867, kindle B07BTKYGCC, Audio 1538586020
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 466
In War Animals: The Unsung Heroes of World War II you’ll meet:
• Judy, the POW dog who helped her beloved human survive brutal Japanese prison camps
• GI Joe, the pigeon who flew 20 miles in 20 minutes and stopped the planes on the tarmac from bombing a town that had been taken over by the British, saving over 100 British soldiers’ lives
• Beauty, the “digging dog” who sniffed out Londoners buried in the wreckage of the Blitz—along with pets, including one goldfish still in its bowl!
• Olga, the horse who braved shattering glass to do her duty in London bombings
• Smoky, the Yorkshire terrier who did parachute jumps, laid communications wire through a pipe so small only she could navigate it, became the first therapy dog—and starred on a weekly TV show after the War
• Simon, the war cat whose campaign against the “Mao Tse Tung” of the rat world saved food supplies and his ship’s crew
• Chips, who guarded Roosevelt and Churchill during the Casablanca Conference, and the only dog to earn a Silver Star for his heroics
These are just a handful of stories you will discover! The shining loyalty and courage of these heroes is a testimony to the enduring bond between us and the animals we love.