A medal awarded to a dog who completed 20 parachute descents in the Second World War has been sold for £140,000 at auction along with other memorabilia.
The PDSA Dickin Medal for Gallantry – also known as the Victoria Cross for animals – awarded to Rob, from Shropshire, was part of a collection including photos, books and a collar which went under the hammer on Wednesday.
Sold by medal auctioneer Noonans of Mayfair, London, the sale broke the previous world record for a Dickin Medal which had been awarded to a pigeon for its gallantry during D-Day.
The medal was sold by Basil Bayne, the son of Rob’s original owner, with the proceeds to be given to the Taylor McNally Foundation, which trains and educates on poultry husbandry.
Mr Bayne said: “Wow, I have just picked myself off the floor.
“I can’t believe the price but I am so delighted that Rob’s story and legacy is held in such high respect and that the important roll that him and many other animals have played in conflict is being recognised.”
Rob, a black and white collie-retriever, lived with the Bayne family in Tetchill, Shropshire, as a farm dog before being volunteered as a war dog in 1942.
After seeing action in the North Africa campaign, Rob became the first war dog to serve with the SAS from September 1943, parachuting in on sabotage missions in Italy.
The Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 by The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) founder Maria Dickin, and is the highest award an animal can receive whilst serving in military conflict.
The medal has been awarded 74 times since then, with dogs, pigeons, horses and a cat honoured.
When Rob received his award, his owner, Edward Bayne, told the Oban Times: “He used to help settle the chicks in their houses at night, picking them up in his mouth when they had strayed away – he had a wonderful mouth – and tucking them in under their mothers.”
Christopher Mellor-Hill, head of client liaison at Noonans, said: “We knew this was an amazing Dickin Medal and truly believed it would take the world record comfortably but we are really pleased to see Rob the Dog make such a spectacular ‘parachute’ landing in smashing the Dickin Medal (Animal VC) world record by more than six times.
“Over the years books have been written about him and he even featured on the front page of the Radio Times, we believe this to be the most important Dickin Medal to ever be sold at auction.”