Dogs and Dog Fights
The Squadron’s mascot, a black French Poodle by the name of Perkin, had belonged to Fg Off Reg Hoare until he was shot down on 1 April 1943. The Squadron kept the dog following Hoare’s loss, but he ran around their bases more-or-less wild at times, until he was adopted by Plt Off Peter Gibbs after he joined the unit in January 1944.
Finding Perkin in a poor state with rashes all over his body, Gibbs, an animal-lover at heart, caught him, treated the inflammations, and bound his paws so he couldn’t scratch himself. In time, the rashes healed and, in apparent thanks, Perkin became devoted to Gibbs and would follow him wherever he went.
They became such good friends that when taxiing out for flights, Perkin would jump up onto the port wingtip of Gibbs’ aircraft to escort him to the runway. At this point, he would jump down and wait for his return. On landing again, Perkin would reverse the process, jumping back up onto Gibbs’ wing to escort him on the taxi back to dispersals. When Gibbs stopped the engine and dropped the cockpit’s side flap, Perkin would run down the wing and jump into the cockpit to greet his best friend.
When the Squadron moved base, Perkin would also ride with Gibbs in the cockpit, sitting on his lap, with his paws on either side of the gun sight, but with his head down, almost like a child too afraid to look, so that Gibbs could see to fly.
He was clearly quite a bright dog, but he had a penchant for cows milk. This was not unusual in itself, but Perkin would cheekily take a drink directly from any suitably located cow’s udder whenever he wished! This earned Perkin, whose rank by this time was Flying Officer, his own unique decoration, the DOCT, or 'Distinguished Order of the Cow Tits', and he would appear on the pilot rota as “F/O Perkin DOCT”.
When the Squadron moved to the Continent in December 1944, Gibbs was forced to leave Perkin behind, but placed him in the care of his father. At the end of the War, however, Perkin was returned to Reg Hoare following his repatriation, much to the sadness of both Gibbs and his father.
41 Squadron's second dog during the summer of 1943 was a white Bull Terrier by the name of Monty
Monty belonged to Flt Lt Hugh Parry, who had obtained him during his time as a Test Pilot with Vickers, and had brought him with him when he was posted to 41 Squadron in March 1943.
91 Squadron, which formed the other part of the Spitfire XII Wing, had their own dog, too: a large Alsatian, named Boris, who was their mascot. However Boris did not see eye-to-eye with 41 Squadron’s pooches, and Monty and Boris had a bad falling out that summer. Hugh Parry recalled that they…
"…got into a terrible fight because Boris, a jumped-up ‘Wing Commander’, tried to eat Monty’s food. Despite everyone doing everything to separate them – blazing newspaper, soda-water siphons, buckets of water, etc. – it was to no avail. Ultimately one of Boris’ legs was removed at the knee and he was taken to the local vet and put down. Monty had a badly skinned head but otherwise was okay."
When Parry was shot down in September 1943, Monty was sent to live in Southampton. Not understanding the circumstances, however, he was often seen at the railway station trying to board a train back to Tangmere.
[Images: Both images are Monty in Summer 1943; both copyright Hugh Parry]
J M Shipman
“Wimpey”. Mascot of 41 Squadron in 1939 [information from R W Wallens and E A Shipman]
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