'Much loved' Newfoundland dog Sergeant Gander honoured with statue
The Gander Heritage Memorial Park unveiled two new statues Thursday, including a tribute to Sergeant Gander, a Newfoundland dog and World War II hero.
Sergeant Gander was the living mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada. He died in action during the Battle of Hong Kong, saving the lives of several Canadian soldiers.
"It's very emotional, even talking about it, it's very close to my heart," said Philip Doddridge, a member of the Royal Rifles who fought alongside Sergeant Gander and spent three years in a Japanese POW camp.
"He was very much loved by all of us, he followed us to Hong Kong and was killed in action."
In addition to the statue of the dog, there was also one to represent the men who served with the Royal Rifles. They were designed and made by well known Newfoundland sculptor Morgan MacDonald.
The planning committee worked on the project for five years.
Sergeant Gander was given to the regiment by the Hayden family when the soldiers were stationed in Newfoundland.
"He gave his life defending his soldiers," said Wilson Hoffe, chair of Gander Heritage Memorial Park.
"He would go and grab the grenades that the Japanese were throwing and throw them out over the hill."
Gander died in action, killed by a grenade exploded in his jaws when he was moving it away from the men fighting the battle.
Hoffe is proud to see the dog finally honoured, and hopes people visiting Gander will take the time to pay their respects.
"We thought on the committee that this would be an appropriate recognize a hero, not human — but certainly a hero," he said.
"It's a real credit to this community and it speaks very high of the way the people of Gander feel."