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Bamse (Dog)

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Bamse was a large Saint Bernard dog who became a legend as a naval mascot due to his actions during World War II. His name is described as the Norwegian term for teddy bear.

Bamse is said to have saved the lives of two Norwegian sailors while stationed in Tayside during World War II, one being a sailor who had fallen overboard, while the other was saved from a knife-man when the fog pushed the attacker into the sea.

On a lighter note, the dog is also said to have regularly shepherded crewmen back to the ship from the pubs of Dundee. He would make his way to the bus stop, climb aboard, and ride it to the crew’s favourite watering hole, the Bodega Bar, then go inside to fetch them. If he couldn’t find them, he would simply take the bus back to base.

In 1940, Bamse was enlisted as an official crew member of his master's ship, the Thorodd, when it was drafted into the Royal Norwegian Navy. Bamse was very important to the crew of the ship, and during battle, would stand on the front gun turret of the boat, wearing his specially made helmet, courtesy of the crew. The ship escaped to the UK and became part of the naval opposition to the Nazis after the fall of Norway that summer, and was stationed at Dundee and Montrose as a minesweeper.

Bamse grave, 2013
Bamse grave
© Leslie Barrie

Bamse was buried with full military honours following his death at the dockside in Montrose in 1944. After a successful campaign, a giant (larger than life-size) bronze statue of Bamse was unveiled at Warf Street, Montrose, on 17 October, 2006. On 30 September, 1984, Bamse was awarded the Norges Hundeorden for his war service, and then the PDSA Gold Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty, in 2006. He is the only animal of World War II to have received this honour.

Every 10 years the Norwegian Navy sends a ship to Scotland to hold a commemorative ceremony for Bamse.[1]


1 Norwegian ship to honour hero sea dog Bamse in Montrose Retrieved June 14, 2014.

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