05 August 2008

Hero Dog Honored

The story of a Norwegian sea dog who became an unlikely war hero has been put into print. It is claimed that Bamse - a 14 stone St Bernard - saved the lives of two sailors during World War II. He also performed many other good deeds while the mascot on the Norwegian Navy minesweeper the Thorrod, which was stationed in Montrose and Dundee.

A book has now been written, aiming to separate the fact from the fiction surrounding the canine hero. Among his exploits included going into the water to rescue a sailor who had fallen overboard and knocking over a knifeman who was trying to attack a young lieutenant. Bamse died in 1944 and is buried in Montrose with his head facing towards Norway.

Since then, a statue has been erected in the Angus town in honour of the dog and he was awarded the gold medal for gallantry and devotion from the PDSA charity. Angus Whitson, co-author of Sea Dog Bamse, said: "My favourite story is him taking the sailors out of the pub and making sure they got back to their ship on time. From what I have read he physically pushed the sailors out of the pubs, there are stories of him nudging them along the road and anyone who tried to escape was herded into the crew again until they got back to the Thorrod.

"It's better than a Lassie film. In many ways it's an extraordinary story - the average dog in my experience has a loyalty for his master and the family he lives with, but Bamse was a dog that appeared to have a loyalty for a wider family.

"He had a sphere of concern for those people that he loved and he looked after them very well."

Fellow author, Andrew Orr, said: "I was in a fortunate position, being a GP in this town, that many of my patients remembered the dog and were very keen to talk to me about it. I started scribbling their stories furiously, but then research took me to Norway, to Canada, South Africa, and other people who had something to say and I was compelled to write this down and it became apparent that there was a story just bursting to be told and a book had to be written."

[Source: BBCnews]