Rifleman Khan

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Rifleman Khan
Species Dog
Breed Alsatian
Nation from United Kingdom
Owner Railton family
Awards Dickin Medal

Rifleman Khan was a German Shepherd Dog dog who was lent to the War Office to become a military dog during World War II. He was assigned to the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and took part in the Battle of the Scheldt. He earned the Dickin Medal, which is considered to be the Victoria Cross for animals.

Military career[edit]

Khan, a German Shepherd Dog), was lent to the War Office by the Railton family from Tolworth, Surrey in the summer of 1942. He had simply been their family pet.[1] Considered a "star pupil" by officers at the War Dog Training School, he went on to be assigned to the sixth battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Lance Corporal James Muldoon became his handler.[1]

In November 1944 the battalion was part of the Allied force sent to attack the island of Walcheren in the Netherlands, as part of the Battle of the Scheldt. The island was of strategic importance and needed to be taken in order for the invasion of Germany to take place. Khan and Muldoon were in an assault craft approaching the island by sea when a spotlight came upon them and the boat came under heavy fire. The boat capsized, sending the soldiers into the water. Khan swam to shore and began to look for Muldoon, who could not swim. While still under heavy shelling, Khan swam the 200 yards (180 m) back to Muldoon and pulled him from the water onto the shore. He continued to pull his handler past the muddy shoreline and up onto solid ground, before collapsing next to him.[1]

Khan was awarded the Dickin Medal (considered to be the Victoria Cross for animals) for bravery on 27 March 1945.[2] His citation read "For rescuing L/Cpl. Muldoon from drowning under heavy shell fire at the assault of Walcheren, November 1944, while serving with the 6th Cameronians (SR)."[2] Following the war, Khan and Muldoon were reunited at a war dogs parade at Wembley Stadium.[3] The Dickin Medal is often referred to as the animal metaphorical equivalent of the Victoria Cross.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Cooper, Jilly (1 January 2001). "Dogs – and cats – of war". The Daily Mail. 
  2. ^ a b "Dickin Medal dogs". People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Archived from the original on February 12, 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "A Happy Sequel". The Singapore Free Press. 7 August 1947. p. 6. 
  4. ^ Long, David (2012). The animals' VC: for gallantry and devotion: the PDSA Dickin Medal - inspiring stories of bravery and courage. London: Preface. ISBN 9781848093768. 

External links[edit]