Bamse the war hero dog who guided soldiers home from pub and broke up fights

Yesterday the British public acknowledged a two minute silence for those who fought in the First World War.

But often many forget the thousands of animals who also lost their lives during conflict – including one very brave dog, Bamse, who served in the Second World War.

The St Bernard belonged to the captain of the Norwegian fighting ship Thorod, which escaped to the UK after the occupation of Norway in 1940.

PDSA undated handout photo of Bamse, the canine mascot of the Norwegian Forces during WWII who is to receive the PDSA Gold Medal - the 'animals' George Cross' - for saving the lives of two crew members of his ship, Norwegian Navy minesweeper, The Thorodd. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday July 21 2006. On Saturday 22 July 2006, the 62nd anniversary of the day the brave St. Bernard passed away, PDSA Chairman Freddie Bircher will present the Medal to Vigdis Hafto, daughter of The Thorodd's then captain, Commander Erling Hafto, and Bamse's original owner. The special ceremony takes place at the Scottish National Trust House of Dun in Montrose, the Scottish town where Bamse's grave has pride of place. Photo credit should read: PDSA/PA
Bamse the St Bernard served in the Second World War (Picture: PA)

He lived on-board the vessel and ‘took his duties seriously standing guard at the forward gun turret even during heated battle’, Twitter user @merryme300 wrote online.

The very very good boy, whose name means ‘teddy bear’ in Norwegian, was even fitted with a special helmet to protect him.

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Bamse was able to instantly recognise when a sailor was missing from the ship – and even went on to save two members of the crew.

He protected one from an attack by a knifeman, while the other had fallen overboard and Bamse dragged him back to shore.

As a reward, he was inducted onto the Thorod as an official crew member in 1940.

The St Bernard was also known for breaking up fights amongst his crewmates by putting his paws on their shoulders and calming them down.

PDSA undated handout photo of Bamse, the canine mascot of the Norwegian Forces during WWII who is to receive the PDSA Gold Medal - the 'animals' George Cross' - for saving the lives of two crew members of his ship, Norwegian Navy minesweeper, The Thorodd. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday July 21 2006. On Saturday 22 July 2006, the 62nd anniversary of the day the brave St. Bernard passed away, PDSA Chairman Freddie Bircher will present the Medal to Vigdis Hafto, daughter of The Thorodd's then captain, Commander Erling Hafto, and Bamse's original owner. The special ceremony takes place at the Scottish National Trust House of Dun in Montrose, the Scottish town where Bamse's grave has pride of place. Photo credit should read: PDSA/PA
The brave dog was even fitted with a special helmet (Picture:PA)

While he also travelled on buses unaccompanied in order to fetch the crew from their favourite pub and escort them back to the ship in time for curfew.

The dog had a bus pass attached to his collar, and if he couldn’t find the men, would return back to the ship on the bus by himself.

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Bamse was later made the official mascot of the Royal Norwegian Navy and became a symbol for the country’s freedom.

He sadly passed away on July 22, 1944, after suffering a fatal heart attack while the ship was docked at Montrose.

The much-loved dog was then buried with full military honours and had a funeral that was attended by hundreds of Norwegian sailors, allied servicemen and school children.

Bamse St Bernard
A statue of Bamse was unveiled in 2006 (Picture: Royal Navy)

Since then, he has been honoured with a life-sized statue in Montrose, which was unveiled on October 17, 2006.

Bamse was posthumously awarded the Norges Hundeorden in 1984 and the PDSA Gold medal, the ‘animals’ George Cross’, for gallantry and devotion to duty.

He was the only Second World War animal to receive the honour.

The Royal Norwegian Navy still hold a commemorative ceremony for Bamse every ten years, which is observed by a navy ship.

Other animals that served in the war include horses, cats, mice, donkeys, pigeons and foxes.