Bing the Para-Dog
Some dogs fetch, some roll over, some guard the flock. Bing’s talents were unique, for he was a paratrooper.
Dogs have long been trained to locate explosives and sniff out enemies. But it wasn’t until WWII that the most cunning canines were needed to drop behind enemy lines. It became the job of Britain’s 13th (Lancashire) Parachute Battalion to train dogs to jump from flying planes.
At the War Dog Training School, Ken Bailey took four-legged draftees through a rigorous program that included sitting for hours in aircraft with engines roaring and propellers spinning. Those able to withstand that test were fitted with tiny parachutes designed for bicycles, then made to go without food for hours. When Bailey stuffed his pockets with meat, the dogs flocked him. He’d jump, calling their names. If they jumped too, they got the meat.
Jump, meat, repeat.
Bing soared through paratrooper training. So did his pals Monty and Ranee. The three were then chosen for the biggest test of all: the D-Day invasion.
At 11:30pm, June 5th 1944, three British planes took off for Normandy, France. Each carried 20 men and one dog.
They opened their hatches at 1:10am, under heavy bombardment. Bailey jumped into the fray, but Bing balked. The jump master grabbed him and tossed him into a dark sky streaked with mortar fire. Bing made it though, suffering two deep cuts to his face. But his parachute got tangled in a tree. He hung there for two hours before his comrades could cut him down.
Monty and Ranee were not so lucky.
Bing the Para-Dog went on to play a vital role in liberating France from the German juggernaut. He led his Battalion through enemy-held territory. When something seemed wrong, he'd freeze and point his nose toward the danger, time and again saving his comrades from ambush.
With Hitler’s defeat, Bing was demobilized and returned to his owner, Betty Fetch, who’d bravely “lent” him to the war effort when scarcity meant her parents could no longer feed him. She was then just as six years old.
In 1947, Betty joined Bing (whose civilian name was Brian) to receive the Dicken Medal, the UK's highest honor bestowed upon animals who’ve served the Armed Forces with valor and distinction.