Thorn DM

b. ?  d. ?

DATE OF DM ACTION: 1944-45 London.

Thorn DM

Thorn was the great grandson of Echo, bred by Mrs Griffin, who was related to another Dickin Medal recipient, Irma. Mrs Griffin was a well-known breeder of pedigree dogs. Echo was a patrol dog in the war and was absent for just one night due to a laceration above his eye.

Thorn began military life by going through training with the Ministry of Aircraft Production School, handled by Mr Russell. After training, at which Thorn excelled, he became an instructor demonstrating to other dogs how to detect miines, complete a mountain rescue and how to lead people from buildings for the ARP Service. Thorn was enlisted to accompany the PDSA Rescue Squads. On one occasion, teamed with Jet, they found no fewer than 25 people buried in South London.

Thorn was then called to the site where a V-bomb had exploded, and left in its wake, the burning shell of a building. One dog refused to go in, but Thorn did so. Despite the heat and smoke he managed to detect several people. For their actions, Mr Russell was awarded the BEM and Thorn the Dickin Medal. On 25th April 1945, Thorn and Mr Russell received their medals at Wembley Stadium.

Thorn then became a film star. He appeared in “Unholy Innocent” with Anne Crawford and Maxwell Reed. Thorn was insured for £1,000 and commanded a sum of £75 per film. One day whilst on walk in Hever, Kent, he was accidently shot by a farmer when he chased a sheep onto his land. For five days he was not expected to live, but miraculously made a full recovery to live in retirement.



For locating air-raid casualties in spite of thick smoke in a burning building.