Animals

The Award-Winning Great Dane With a Great Bladder

No account of the heroes of World War II can be complete without mentioning the two-time recipient of the Blue Cross medal. Juliana’s heroic acts included single-handedly defusing a bomb and saving shop owners from a fire. If you are wondering about Juliana’s last name, she did not have one. She made up for only having one name by also having four legs and a tail. Juliana was the medal-winning Great Dane of World War II.

It was April 1941. Germany was punishing the United Kingdom with a relentless assault of incendiary bombs. These destructive weapons sent waves of death and destruction throughout the island nation.

One of those bombs fell through a roof and landed in a house in Bristol. Before it could detonate, the household dog, a Great Dane named Juliana, rushed to investigate the intrusion into her home. With only moments remaining before detonation, Juliana took charge and simultaneously defused the device and sent a message about what she thought about the attack by urinating on the bomb.

In recognition of Juliana’s heroic heart and active bladder, she received the Blue Cross medal.

The Blue Cross medal was originally awarded to military horses in World War I. It was later expanded to include other animals who committed acts of bravery.

Juliana’s Blue Cross medal

This was not the end of Juliana’s heroics, however. Three years later, in November 1944, a fire broke out in the shoe shop that was owned by her family. She alerted her humans to the danger and saved their lives. For this act of heroism, she was awarded her second Blue Cross medal.

A plaque attached to Juliana’s portrait reads, “Juliana – awarded a medal for extinguishing an incendiary bomb April 1941. Awarded another for alerting the occupants of her master’s burning shop November 1944.”

Juliana survived World War II and was able to see her country emerge victorious from the devastating attacks. Sadly, she did not live happily ever after. In 1946, just one year after the end of the war, someone slipped poison through the letterbox of the front door of the family home. Juliana ate the poison and died.

Juliana’s story might have faded from memory, had it not been for a fortunate discovery more than half a century after her death. During a house clearance in Bristol, workers stumbled across a portrait of Juliana, her second Blue Cross medal, and a plaque that briefly described her acts of bravery. These items were sold at an auction in September 2013 for £1,100 ($1,425).

The auctioneer who handled the sale described Juliana as “a Great Dane with a great bladder.” History will remember her as a big dog with an even bigger heart.


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