A medal awarded to a dog that completed 20 parachute descents during World War II has been auctioned alongside other memorabilia for £140,000.
The PDSA Dickin Medal for Gallantry – also known as the Victoria Cross for Animals – awarded to Rob, from Shropshire, was part of a collection including photos, books and a collar that went under the hammer on Wednesday.
Sold by medal auctioneer Noonans of Mayfair, London, the sale broke the previous world record for a Dickin Medal awarded to a pigeon for bravery during D-Day.
The medal was sold by Basil Bayne, Rob’s original owner’s son, with the proceeds going to the Taylor McNally Foundation, which provides education and training in poultry farming.
Mr Bayne said: “Wow, I just picked myself up off the floor.
“I can’t believe the award, but I am delighted that Rob’s story and legacy is so highly valued and that the important role he and many other animals have played in conflicts is recognized.”
Rob, a black and white collie retriever, lived as a farm dog with the Bayne family in Tetchill, Shropshire before volunteering as a war dog in 1942.
After witnessing the North African campaign, Rob became the first war dog to serve with the SAS from September 1943, parachuting into sabotage missions in Italy.
Introduced in 1943 by People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) founder Maria Dickin, the Dickin Medal is the highest decoration an animal can receive while serving in a military conflict.
The medal has since been awarded 74 times, honoring dogs, pigeons, horses and a cat.
When Rob received his award, his owner Edward Bayne told the Oban Times: “He would help the chicks around their houses at night, picking them up in his mouth when they were lost – he had a wonderful mouth – and taking them under their mothers put.”
Christopher Mellor-Hill, Head of Customer Care at Noonans, said: “We knew this was an amazing Dickin medal and really believed it would comfortably take up the world record, but we are delighted that Rob the Dog received one like this spectacular ‘parachute’. Landing in breaking the Dickin Medal (Animal VC) world record by more than six times.
“Books have been written about him over the years and he even made the front page of the Radio Times. We believe this to be the most important Dickin medal ever sold at auction.”