Judy: A Dog in a Million by Damien Lewis

To be published Dec 2, 2014

Judy was a remarkable liver-colored (chocolate brown) and white English Pointer born in Shanghai, China in 1936. When she was about 6 months old, she was adopted as the ship’s dog (mascot) aboard the HMS Gnat and later the HMS Grasshopper. This gunboat patrolled the Yangtze River when the British were still a colonial power there. After the Japanese started attacking the Chinese during the second Sino-Japanese War, and Judy was especially adept at hearing oncoming aircraft and warning the crew ahead of time. It was on the Grasshopper that Judy was involved in the Battle for Singapore, but nearly died after the ship sunk trying to get evacuees from Singapore to the Dutch East Indies. Thankfully she was rescued by a crew mate. The remaining crew, evacuees and Judy managed to make it to Sumatra and after hiking 200 miles through the island’s jungle, they were unfortunately captured by the Japanese and put into Prisoner of War (POW) camps. It was at her second camp that she met the man who would change her life, an airshipman named Frank Williams. With his help, she managed to survive many attempts on her life and she became the only dog to be registered as a POW in World War II. Judy helped him and other British POWs survive the hellish experiences of the workers on the Sumatran railroad by being their mascot, alerting them to danger and saving many lives. 3-1/2 stars.

Judy and Frank Williams

This book was one that I originally wasn’t all that interested in but it was offered as a “Read Now” so I decided to try it. In the end, the book reminded me a lot of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, in that Judy, like Louis, faced incredible odds many many times and still survived. Plus they both managed to survive Japanese Internment camps, which had even more deplorable conditions than those of the German POW camps (at least in my opinion). Despite the grimness of the subject matter, I really enjoyed reading the book and was curious to see how it ended. My only gripe about this book is that the beginning was so slow I almost lost interest in it before the story really got going. I am curious now to read his other book on a WWII hero dog entitled The Dog Who Could Fly.