Many of you who have joined me on battlefield tours will know about my love of working dogs, the fact I own a number of working English Springer Spaniels and how I have told the story about animals serving in both World Wars, plus the story of the Dickin Medal, which is the Animal’s Victoria Cross. Well, Military Working Dogs have never been more important than today serving with the British Army.
I recently had the great privilege of witnessing the presentation of a Dickin Medal to Treo, a Labrador Spaniel cross, who was accompanied by his handler, British Army Sergeant Dave Heyhoe. The two have been working together for the past five years and he was honoured with the award at the Imperial War Museum in London as the medal was presented by HRH Princess Alexandra.
Nine-year-old Treo was given the medal for his deployment to Afghanistan with 104 Military Working Dog Support Unit, based in Rutland; when during a single infantry foot patrol Treo twice found hidden bombs and improvised explosive devices in Helmand province, saving many lives.
Treo is the 63rd animal to receive the medal to honour gallantry in war and is the highest accolade a military working dog can be awarded. A total of 26 other dogs, 32 World War II messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat have won the award, first introduced in 1943 by Maria Dickin, the founder of the PDSA.
It was at lunch after the event it became so obvious both Dave and Treo were inseparable ‘Treo is now retired and I finish in the Army soon’ said Dave Heyhoe ‘and we are both looking forward to a long and happy retirement’ I am sure you will join me in wishing both the very best for the future.