THE CHILDREN’S charity Newfound Friends has received a letter from Buckingham Palace thanking members for the painting it sent the Queen to commemorate her jubilee.
Anne Mainman’s portrait is of famous Newfoundland Gander who served with the Royal Canadian Rifles in Hong Kong during the second world war.
The letter from the Queen’s senior correspondent officer said: "I have been asked to convey Her Majesty’s warm good wishes to you and all the members of Newfound Friends, and to say that your thoughtfulness in sending the painting is much appreciated.”
David Pugh of Newfound Friends said: "We felt it was important that this very brave Newfoundland – who was a recipient of the PDSA’s Dickin Medal – was included in the Queen’s Gallery.”
Gander, or Pal as he was called then, accidentally scratched a child and his owners – worried that they would be asked to put him down – offered him to the Royal Rifles, a regiment of the Canadian Army stationed at Gander International Airport, Newfoundland and Labrador during the second world war.
The regiment took him on as its mascot, renamed him Gander and ‘promoted’ him to the rank of sergeant. .
In 1941 the Royal Rifles and Gander were sent to Hong Kong Island to defend it against Japanese attacks. On one occasion, Gander charged Japanese soldiers as they approached wounded Canadian soldiers, saving their lives.
But his final act of bravery cost him his own life on December 19 during the Battle of Lye Mun, again during a Japanese attack. Gander picked up a grenade which had landed next to a group of soldiers and carried it away. It exploded, killing him instantly.
In October 2000, Gander received posthumously the Dickin Award, which is presented to animals who have shown extreme gallantry and devotion to duty.