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Dog Grave in Tanzania captures hearts of pet loving tourists

Dog Grave in Tanzania captures hearts of pet loving tourists

Nachingwea is a small town, hidden in the heart of Southern Tanzania, an area known by its rich African cultures and history.

But most impressive in this small Tanzanian town is the legendary Grave of a Dog, the first such a canine Rest in Peace (R.I.P) place ever seen in rest of Tanzania, and probably in rest of East Africa.

This famous grave is none other than the place of eternal resting of Judy, the pointer dog and a Prisoner of War (PoW) who migrated with her owner, Frank Williams from Britain to Tanzania in 1947 to settle in the small African town of Nachingwea in southern Tanzania.

Dale Allison from Texas in United States is an American tourist planning to fly to Africa for a special safari to visit this famous grave of Judy, the Dog.

She is looking to collect more information from Tanzania authorities and which would help to make this dog grave a memorial site, the first of its kind in Tanzania.

Dale sent a message to eTN saying she is planning to travel all the way from Texas to the remote, southern Tanzania to visit this famous Dog Graveafter learning of its presence there.

Judy the Dog was born in Shanghai in 1936 and was brought to the military camp by her owner, Frank Williams, the radar commander,  to thegunboat on which she had served as a mascot.

In February 1942 the ship was torpedoed and sunk with heavy losses. Judy and the surviving crew members were marooned on an island off Sumatra where her ability to sniff out fresh water saved all their lives.

The survivors, including Judy were eventually captured by Japanese forces and were incorporated into a forced labor camp under brutal conditions.

Judy devoted herself to fellow PoW, Frank Williams, whose side she was said never to have left. She protected Williams and his colleagues by distracting the guards when they beat the prisoners; the Japanese guards responded by trying to shoot her on several occasions, but retracted.

She was already a proven life-saver, having located a fresh water spring on the desert island where the survivors of the bombed gunboat had been washed up. Given the mayhem of war and the fact that dogs were considered a culinary delicacy by the Japanese, the Judy was considered themost astonishing animal.

Frank Williams migrated with her to Tanzania to work for the British government’s funded groundnut food scheme in southern Tanzania. There was some difficulty in getting permission for Judy to travel and it was feared that she and Williams would be split up, but permission was given for Judy to travel with Williams.

The dog became the only animal to have been registered as a PoW (PoW81A) after surviving two years as a prisoner, gunshot wounds, alligator bites, attacks from wild dogs and a Sumatran tiger.

With fellow prisoners, the dog was liberated after the Japanese surrender in 1945. Williams smuggled her aboard a ship heading for Britain where she endured the standard six month quarantine. Upon her release in May 1946, she was awarded the Dickin Medal, known as the animal Victoria Cross (VC).

Her citation read; “For magnificent courage and endurance in Japanese prison camps, which helped to maintain morale among her fellow prisoners and also for saving many lives through her intelligence and watchfulness.”

Judy died on February 17th, 1950 from a tumor in Nachingwea.  Mr. Williams spent two months building a granite and marble monument with a plaque that included the words: “A remarkable canine… A gallant old girl who, with a wagging tail, gave more in companionship than she ever received… and was in her short lifetime an inspiration of courage, hope and a will to live, to many who would have given up in their time of trial, had it not been for her example and fortitude”.

Before its death, the dog served as a post office, shopping and delivery of small parcels for Mr. Frank Williams.

On 27 February 1972, Judy was remembered in church services across Gasport and Portsmouth, and in 1992 her story was featured in the British children’s TV show Blue Peter.

In 2006 her collar and medal went on public display for the first time in the Imperial War Museum (IWM), London, as part of “The Animals’ War” exhibition. It was presented to the IWM by Alan Williams, Frank’s son.

“In our view the surest way to ensure the preservation of this unique piece of British history would be to recognize Judy’s grave officially. This would also provide the Tanzanian authorities with an excellent reason to preserve the site and Judy’s story as a tourist attraction”, Russell  Taylor, a pet-lover from New Zealand said.

This grave of Judy the dog could be the first such an attraction in Tanzania, and could easily be seen at the site. It has an elevation of two feet in a form of a pyramid outpost. There are several visitors from South
Africa who pay a visit to this grave every year.

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