Jet, the ‘Blitz’ Recovery dog
Having posted some accounts to the “People’s War” website about mining accidents that occurred in the West Cumberland coalfield during the Second World War, I was recently asked by another researcher about a slightly later explosion that took place at William Pit, Whitehaven on 15 August 1947. This was a terrible mining disaster with the loss of 104 lives. While I had referred to this 1947 explosion on the “People’s War” website I had not written about it in much detail.
Nevertheless, I did have some information about the 1947 William Pit disaster at Whitehaven. Reading through the Official Report, I found there was a small section about the use of trained rescue dogs in a British coalmine for the first time. More specifically, two dogs, “Rex” and “Prince” were brought in with their handlers from the RAF Police Dog Training School at Staverton to locate the bodies of miners presumed buried under roof falls.
It was then found that neither dog had been trained in body recovery work. Consequently, another dog, “Jet”, one that had been involved in recovery work in the London area during the war, was quickly brought out of retirement to save the day. “Jet”, bringing this invaluable experience gained during the wartime German air raids over London immediately became the lead dog. As a result, the rescue teams were eventually successful in the grim task of recovering all the missing bodies by 23 August 1947. This photograph shows the Memorial to the victims who died in William Pit, Whitehaven, but there is no memorial to "Jet" and the other two dogs who helped in the recovery operation.
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