Military mascots

Page 3 – Second World War mascots

Major Major, No. 1 Dog, 2 NZEF, 19 Battalion and Armoured Regiment

Military mascot Major Major

Major Major is probably our most famous military mascot. He has had a book devoted to his life and was painted by the official war artist Peter McIntyre. When he died in 1944 he was buried with full military honours. 'When we laid Major to rest,' one soldier wrote, 'I think perhaps some of the later members of the unit found it hard to appreciate the deep sentiment shown by the old hands for the old Dog.' Read more...

Duda, 19 Battalion

Duda the mascot dog

Duda was rescued at Ed Duda, Libya, during an artillery barrage. She was a small dog and eager to please; the troops called her the 'happiest prisoner of war in the Middle East'. She usually travelled in the cook's truck when the unit moved, and on cold desert nights she had the habit of waiting till her friends were settled and then sneaking in between them to sleep and keep warm. Read more...

Colonel Ben, A Squadron, Divisional Cavalry

Colonel Ben the mascot

Ben sailed to Greece with the Divisional Cavalry in April 1941 and saw action there. He remained with A Squadron throughout the North African campaign, where he was wounded. Ben's obituary in the NZEF Times noted that he was promoted 'from time to time for meritorious behaviour in the field and reverted occasionally for conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline'. Read more...

Sergeant Noodles, 21 Battalion 

Noodles the mascot

Sergeant Noodles, a white Samoyed, was the pride and joy of C Company, 21 Battalion. He marched through Auckland with the men of the Second Echelon before their departure overseas. Although he was initially granted official permission to sail with his unit, he ultimately had to remain in New Zealand. Read more...

Borax, 22 Battalion

Borax the mascot

Borax the terrier was adopted by A Company, 22 Battalion, which provided him with a uniform marked with his unit and service number. Borax may have been more determined than Sergeant Noodles – or perhaps he was just lucky – for when the Empress of Britain left Pipitea wharf in Wellington on 2 May 1940, he managed to get on board. Read more...

Private Hunt, 37 Battalion

Private Hunt the parakeet mascot

Private Hunt, a parakeet,  was a well-known member of 37 Battalion in the Pacific. When young he did so much walking about that his long tail became worn down to a small stump, making flight impossible. He also learned to 'whisper some very wicked words, mainly in disparagement of members of the intelligence section'. Read more...

More Second World War mascots

Do you have information on any of New Zealand's official or unofficial military mascots? Photographs and/or anecdotes that are received may be added to this feature.

Rommel, 20 Battalion

Rommel the cat was a good friend of Charles Upham VC and bar. Rommel and her kittens took over Upham's sleeping bag in his tent, and he later looked after her. He described her as a wild cat who did not have a loving nature. She was a great biter and took some catching when the unit had to move camp. Upham believed that she was eventually killed by a bomb. Read more about the adventures of Rommel and her kittens (20 Battalion official history on the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre website)

Spittie, C Company, 28 (Maori) Battalion

'"Spittie" was a little dog of doubtful pedigree and very fond of chocolate. She was called "Spittie" because her decision to live with C Company occurred at the same time as a Spitfire came down in a nearby field of turnips ... "Spittie" took to a soldier's life with great gusto and never missed a route march but could not understand the etiquette that attaches to a parade. This was very noticeable when Colonel Dittmer inspected the company and "Spittie", with much barking and cavorting, insisted on doing the inspection with him. When she inspected the CO's car and signified her approval in the usual canine manner, formality was very nearly lost.' 

Wallad and Tiger, Cooks and Transport

'The match of the season was shortly to take place − Cooks v. Transport ... On 20 December, at 1.30 p.m. sharp, the cooks marched smartly on to the field, being played into position by the pipes (the rumoured secret weapon) and followed by the stalwarts from Transport. Each team was accompanied by its cat mascot, "Wallad" and "Tiger" of Cooks and Transport respectively.' (quoted from 20 Battalion and Armoured Regiment history)

Captain Box Girder, 5 Field Park Company, New Zealand Engineers

'A number of bombs fell among the Headquarters Divisional Engineers and 5 Field Park vehicles ... Captain Lindell was wounded and Lieutenant Wildey took his place as Adjutant. The only fatal casualty among the engineers was the 5 Field Park dog mascot, Captain Box Girder.'

Percy the pig

Going through Foggia [Italy] and while we were looking at the Cameos, watches etc. ... a squeal was heard just as we were leaving the area. It was a little white piglet. Put him in an Ammo Box with some Carnation Milk ... Percy was his name ... Freyberg accepted he was to be our Mascot [silver fern on his sides, no. 31 on his rear]. Percy travelled in a 3-ton truck. He was sold about a week before I was wounded. He was a boar and getting too big. Always placid, no other units tried to hurt him. He would swim in the rivers with us. Many a soldier told of his worries to Percy. Percy would just lie still. Always enjoyed his ration of chocolate, bottle of beer and we would get drunk on Canadian beer ...  Would line up for his share. No cigarettes though. The Sgt one day was having a shave ... Percy grabbed the brush and took off. It was hilarious, with what he was calling that pig (Pork chops you will be).

Information contributed by Brian Redfern

See also: ‘Animal war heros recognised’ - Bay of Plenty Beacon 2 Feb 1945 (PapersPast)

How to cite this page

'Second World War mascots', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 29-Aug-2014

Community contributions

3 comments have been posted about Second World War mascots

What do you know?


Posted: 07 Jun 2013

Hi Mark - thanks for your post, we'd definitely be keen to see these images. You can email us at [email protected]

Regards, Jamie Mackay

mark cousins

Posted: 06 Jun 2013

I have a couple of photos of Capt. Box Girder from my 5FPK research. Can I send them to you? My grandfather was in that coy.

Peter Balloch

Posted: 05 Apr 2009

I have a photo of my father #9701 Wallace James Balloch with a pet rabbit 'Saaeda' that he took with him across North Africa during the Second World War. He was a member of the 27th Machine Gun Battalion. Apart from that I have no information regarding this 'mascot'.