Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jet, the ‘Blitz’ Recovery dog

1. The William Pit memorial, Whitehaven
(Remembering coal miners who died working here)
["Jet of lana" a WW2 rescue dog was brought here in 1947
2. Tribute to "Jet" at Whitehaven's Haig Mining Museum
(Showing "Jet" with his owner, Mrs Babcock Cleaver)
Jet's medals include the rarely awarded Dickin Medal
 For additional information click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

(Written Tuesday 10 October 2006)

Having posted some accounts to the BBC “People’s War” website about mining accidents that occurred in the West Cumberland coalfield during the Second World War, I was recently asked by another researcher about a slightly later explosion that took place at William Pit, Whitehaven on 15 August 1947. This was a terrible mining disaster with the loss of 104 lives. While I had referred to this 1947 explosion on the “People’s War” website I had not written about it in much detail.

Nevertheless, I did have some information about the 1947 William Pit disaster at Whitehaven. Reading through the Official Report, I found there was a small section about the use of trained rescue dogs in a British coal mine for the first time. More specifically, two dogs, “Rex” and “Prince” were brought in with their handlers from the RAF Police Dog Training School at Staverton to locate the bodies of miners presumed buried under roof falls.

It was then found that neither dog had been trained in body recovery work. Consequently, another dog, “Jet of lana”, one that had been involved in recovery work in the London area during the war, was quickly brought out of retirement to save the day. “Jet”, bringing this invaluable experience gained during the wartime German air raids over London immediately became the lead dog.

As a result, the rescue teams were eventually successful in the grim task of recovering all the missing bodies by 23 August 1947. Photograph No. 1 (above) shows the memorial to the victims who died in William Pit, Whitehaven, including the 104 miners who lost their lives in August 1947.

Monday, 16 February, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

"The Star dog of Whitehaven"
(Written Sunday 15 February 2015)

Although there is no memorial at Whitehaven to "Jet" and the other two rescue dogs, "Rex" and "Prince", that helped in the 1947 recovery operation "Jet" was awarded a special medal and became "The Star dog of Whitehaven". In February 2015, following a major renovation at the Haig Pit and Colliery Mining Museum at Whitehaven, a special panel featured the story of "Jet" in a mines rescue section [Photograph No. 2 (above)].

In his short lifetime "Jet" was awarded a number of special medals including the rarely awarded PDSA Dickin Medal (regarded by some as the animals' Victoria Cross). This medal is the second from the left of the four medals seen in Photograph No. 2. It was awarded to "Jet" on 12 January 1945 for assisting persons trapped under blitzed buildings while he was with the Civil Defence. At the time of writing, the Dickin Medal had only been awarded on 66 occasions so it is indeed a rare honour.

Although "Jet" did not manage to save the lives of any of the miners trapped underground at the William Pit in August 1947 he did save one of the rescue parties from a rock fall, a story which is told at Whitehaven's Haig Mining Museum. Following this, "Jet" was awarded the RSPCA Medallion of Valour.

"Jet" was a German Shepherd (Alsatian) born at Liverpool in July 1942 at the kennels of Mrs Babcock Cleaver (seen with "Jet" in Photograph No. 2). At 9 months old "Jet" was loaned to the War Dogs School at Gloucester and initially trained as an anti-sabotage dog. After 18 months in Northern Ireland "Jet" returned to the dog training school and teamed up with Corporal Wardle for search and rescue duties. They were sent to London and regularly called out to assist with Civil Defence until the end of the war.

"Jet" died in October 1949 and buried in Calderstones Park, Liverpool. A memorial has also been erected in the park to this extraordinary dog.


Thanks to Haig Pit and Colliery Mining Museum for some of the additional information about "Jet of lana", the 'Star dog of Whitehaven'.

Monday, 16 February, 2015  
Blogger signsofgoingloco said...

I had the HONOUR of meeting JET,s
Mr Bruce Marshall on Saturday 14th of March 2014 in his home in Eglwysbach, North WALES. It was 4 Medals & a photograph of JET with his handler. Which caught my eye, hanging in a frame in Mr Marshall,s hallway.Up to this point I knew nothing of this disaster nor the bravery of JET & BRUCE. What a perfect MODEST Gentleman that Bruce turned out to be !! Mainly because I was not born until 1947.
Mr Kenny Thompson,Conwy Valley
, North WALES.

Saturday, 14 March, 2015  

Post a Comment

<< Home