A hero dog who saved his handler from drowning after being ‘conscripted’ into the British Army has been honoured with his own life-size bronze statue in his hometown of Strathaven in Scotland.
The memorial to Khan was formally unveiled in the Common Green almost exactly 77 years after he pulled Lance Corporal Jimmy Muldoon from the sea.
The dramatic rescue happened after Corporal Muldoon’s landing craft was bombed by German forces defending Walcheren Island, in the Netherlands.
As they approached Walcheren Island, bombs started to rain down and several landing craft were hit.
The work, by sculptor John McKenna, has been unveiled almost 77 years to the day that Khan pulled L/Cpl Muldoon from the sea after his landing craft was bombed by German forces at Walcheren Island, The Netherlands, during the Battle of the Sheldt in November 1944.
Mr Muldoon said: “The dog managed to get to shore, but there was no handler with it.
“He could hear the handler in the water – my father. So he ran down and jumped back in, got him by the scruff of the neck and pulled him out. I think it was about 200yds [182m] to shore.”
Unit members who witnessed the event later said Khan then lay on the shore beside his handler, both exhausted.
Khan, who had been “conscripted” into the British Army, served out the war and was returned home to the Railton family in Tolworth, Surrey.
Members of the soldier’s regiment called for Khan’s bravery to be celebrated.
The dog was awarded the “animal’s Victoria Cross” for bravery, the PDSA Dickin Medal, and L/Cpl Muldoon went to the ceremony.
“People saw there was that much affection between the two of them that they decided he would take it home,” Mr Muldoon said.
In Strathaven Khan was treated like a local hero, especially in the butchers shop where he was given free meat every week.
Mr Muldoon said: “I have a great deal to be grateful to Khan for.
“There is no doubt he saved my father’s life as he could not swim and was being pulled under water by his pack.
“I guess I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Khan, and I am so pleased the good folk of Strathaven have decided to honour him for his heroism.”
The bronze statue, created by John McKenna whose other works include the statue of Billy McNeill outside Celtic Park, shows the bond between the man and his dog.
Mr McKenna said: “It’s an incredible story and I am really honoured to have been part of the effort to have Khan and Jimmy immortalised.
“Thanks to photos of Khan and Jimmy I was able to capture the way they looked, but I hope I was also able to show their remarkable relationship.”
The work was unveiled in a ceremony attended by representatives of the armed forces, local dignitaries and residents, including some of those who helped raise £60,000 to make the statue.
Former members of the 6th Battalion Cameronians, who honoured the dog with the title “Rifleman Khan”, also attended.
Local councillor Margaret Cooper said fundraising for the statue had been boosted by South Lanarkshire Council and a local businessman who “very generously put up about half of the money needed”.
She added: “People in Strathaven are really proud to have been home to Jimmy and Khan and we now have a new landmark that will tell their story for many decades to come.”
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