Horrie the War Dog: The story of Australia's most famous dog

Roland Perry

Horrie the War Dog: The story of Australia's most famous dog
Allen & Unwin
30 October 2013

Horrie the War Dog: The story of Australia’s most famous dog

Roland Perry

Horrie, the Egyptian Terrier, found as a starving pup in the harsh Libyan Desert, became the much-loved mascot of the First Australian Machine Gun Battalion in World War II. Yet he was no ordinary symbol, and the Gunners’ love for him was not mere affection for a pet.

It was in return for Horrie saving the lives of every member of the thousand strong contingent, not once but several times in the Middle East. His exceptional hearing picked up the whine of enemy aircraft two minutes before human ears. Horrie’s ritual of sitting, growling, barking and then leading the dash for trenches, had the Gunners running for cover before their camp was strafed and bombed. He was adopted by the ‘Rebels,’ a small group of Signallers, who secretly carried him through battle zones of Libya, Egypt, Palestine (Israel) and Syria.

Horrie was smuggled into Australia after a harrowing boat trip home early in 1942, when the Battalion returned to face the threat from marauding Japanese Forces. The dog stayed with the family of his ‘Master’ Private Jim Moody, who went off to fight the enemy in New Guinea. When he came back in 1945, Moody brought Horrie out of hiding to help raise money for the Red Cross. Quarantine pounced and condemned the dog to death. Moody and the Rebels were shocked. They and a thousand others owed their existence to Horrie. Now they were being ordered to submit the dog, who was fit and disease-free, for extermination.

How could Moody and Rebels beat the bureaucracy when defying the authorities would mean jail for them, and Horrie being caught and killed? Could they create a scheme to save him as they had in carrying the dog everywhere with them in the North African and Middle East Campaigns? Or was Horrie, the Gunner’s hero, to be condemned to canine martyrdom?

The answers are in Horrie the War Dog, a true tale of intrigue and illusion; a story of sacrifice, courage and loyalty in the finest ANZAC tradition.

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