Saint Bernard on the beach
Saint Bernard on the beach
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There are many different kinds of heroes.  Some rescue drowning swimmers. Some are recognized for heroics in wartime.  Often heroes aren’t even recognized until they’re put in situations that require courage.

Bamse, the Saint Bernard, was a war hero. Bamse, or “cuddly bear” in Norwegian, was stationed aboard the Norwegian minesweeper, Thorudd, in World War II.  Despite his cuddly appearance, he proved to be one tough dog during his naval service.

He wasn’t only tough, but also popular. Bamse was taken on board by the ships captain.  When the captain received a new posting, the crew threatened to mutiny if Bamse left with him.  He was so beloved that they would have rather left the ship than sail without him.

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The Myth

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The legend of Bamse was born during the time his boat was stationed at Dundee and Montrose.  Like Swansea Jack, he once rescued a sailor who had fallen overboard by diving in and pulling him to safety.  He once rescued another crewmember who was threatened by a knifeman by running into the attacker and then dragging him into the water.

But Bamse was also a known as a peacemaker.  He was allowed to ride alone on buses with a special bus pass around his neck to ensure that drunken sailors made it back to the ship.  It’s alleged that he even helped put an end to bar fights. It was reported that if sailors got into fights on board the ship, he would force them to stop.  Bamse stood on his hind legs and put his massive paws on their shoulders to calm them down.

The Legend

Bamse was well known in his adopted home country of Scotland.  But he wasn’t just famous in Scotland.  He also was beloved back in his true homeland of Norway.  Every Christmas he was photographed wearing a little sailor’s hat so that crewmembers could send back Christmas cards to their family with his photo on it.

Bamse the Sailor Dog
Bamse the Sailor Dog

Bamse’s fame lived on after the war and after his demise.  The beloved St. Bernard was honored with the canine equivalent of the George Cross.  The town of Montrose went further.  In 2006, the town moved to immortalize his life with a £50,000 bronze memorial dedicated by Prince Andrew.  The legend of Bamse the “cuddly bear” lives on.

Dedication of Bamse Memorial
Dedication of Bamse Memorial

 

Photo Credits:  BBC News

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