b. 1939 Shropshire. d. 18/01/1952 Tetchill, Shropshire.
DATE OF DM ACTION: 1942-1945 North Africa and Italy.
Rob was a Collie who was purchased for 5 shillings by a farmer named Mr Bayne from Ellesmere, Shropshire, when he was just six weeks old. On the farm, he became a working dog, helping his master gather in pigs and cattle as well as learning to guide the hens out from the garden without chasing them. Early in 1942 the War Office made an appeal for animals suitable for work to aid the war effort. Rob was accepted and enlisted in War Dogs Training School at Northaw. Rob was then despatched with his handler, to North Africa.
When the 2nd SAS Unit was formed by Colonel Sir David Stirling and was stationed at Sousse. Due to the disappearance of supplies so a guard dog was needed, and Rob was accepted. He became a firm favourite with the men, and was smuggled aboard an aircraft. He was given a parachute and following a successful test, he accompanied the 2nd SAS on many missions.
Rob received his medal in London on 3 February 1945. Rob won other medals for bravery, including an RSPCA silver medal. Following his military service, he returned to his owners in Tetchill, Shropshire. He died in 1952 and was buried on the family farm.
According to Quentin Hughes’ autobiographical account of his time in the 2nd SAS, Who Cares Who Wins?, the actions which led to Rob’s Dickin Medal were in fact a hoax. He reported that instead of completing parachute drops as reported, the dog acted as a companion to the regiment quartermaster, Tom Burt. Lll Hughes wrote that when hearing that the family which donated Rob to the Army Veterinary and Remount Services had requested the dog back, he and Burt worked together to keep Rob by exaggerating his exploits. At one point they attempted to carry out a parachute jump with Rob but weather conditions were unfavourable and they could not follow through with the jump as Hughes wrote, “We had a suitable parachute harness and I phoned through to the RAF and made arrangements for Rob to have a short flight, unfortunately, quite a strong wind blew up during the flight and the RAF decided it would be dangerous to drop Rob on that day.” They had to send a letter to his owners following the successful drop, and after the failure decided to send it anyway. Rob’s owners passed the letter about the dog’s actions to the PDSA, resulting in Rob’s Dickin Medal in January 1945. Although Hughes died in 2004, the possibility of a hoax wasn’t revealed until 2006 when a painting of Rob was featured in an exhibition entitled “The Animals War” at the Imperial War Museum in London. According to Hughes’ friend Mickey King, who remembered the author discussing the incident, “Quentin said that nobody survived 20 parachute drops, let alone a dog. You were lucky to survive three.
For service including 20 parachute jumps while serving with Infantry in North Africa and SAS Regiment in Italy.
BURIAL LOCATION: BAYNE FARM, TETCHILL, SHROPSHIRE.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SOLD AT NOONANS ON 12/10/2022 FOR £140,000.