Jet was a black Alsatian from Mossley Hill, Liverpool, who was specially trained at the 'War Dog School' in Gloucester to search for people trapped in the rubble of bombed buildings during the Second World War. He saved countless lives, for which he was awarded various medals, including the prestigious Dickin Medal by the PDSA, on 12 January 1945.
Lillias Ward, the daughter of Jet's owner, remembers:
"The reason why he [Jet] got his medal was one particularly outstanding situation where a hotel in London had had a direct hit, and they thought they’d got everybody out… Jet’s handler said ‘there’s someone there, up high… if Jet says that person’s there, they’re alive, by his behaviour’. And the woman was not only alive, but she lived, so that was lovely. Jet stood there and wouldn’t go, and it was evidently about 11 and a half hours that he was there. I think it was that determination that got the imagination of the newspapers. And the PDSA gave him a medal, for all his work, but that was the outstanding one that probably attracted attention, and that was exciting".
He also later searched for miners in the Whitehaven Pit Disaster in 1947 and he was awarded the RSPCA’s Medallion of Valor after saving the rescuers he was working with.
There is a memorial to Jet in Calderstones Park, Liverpool where Jet is buried.
"The main thing my mother wanted was for the story of the contribution made to the war effort by individuals and dogs as well, to be told to children, and for them to know the good things that dogs can do to help us.
The marvellous thing is that a friend of mine was standing by the memorial recently and she heard two mothers come and read out, and tell their children the story, so I thought well my mother would be pleased about that." Lillias Ward
The Calderstones Park memorial isn't the only tribute to this heroic dog. You can see this ‘Jet of Iada’ bust, made in 1949 by Edna Rose, in The People's Republic gallery at the Museum of Liverpool. There is also a painting of Jet by Alfred Kemp Wiffen, which isn't currently on display, in the Walker Art Gallery's collection.
Accession number WAG 7003