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Leading Seaman Stuka, HMAS Lismore, c. 1942 ©2018 (Pastel, 28 x 40 cm.)

In 2006-2011 I was employed as a Volunteer Tour Guide at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. In 2009 a wonderful exhibition about animals used in wartime called ‘A is for Animals’ featured a little dog who was a dead ringer for my Tenterfield terrier, Poppy.

I was so taken with the image of Leading Seaman Stuka, a little dog with an interesting history, that nine years later, during the Year of the Dog (2018), I finally got around to painting him. And it was as his portrait evolved that the essence and individuality of this brave little dog evolved. But knowing just how sensitive these little dogs are, I can’t imagine a more unsuitable military mascot .

Taken Prisoner of War along with an Italian Army Unit in North Arica in World War II, Fox Terrier Stuka – named after a notorious German-type dive bomber, became mascot to His Majesty’s Australian Ships WATERHEN, DEFENDER & LISMORE respectively, before his eventual transfer to shore duty at the Royal Naval Dockyard Trincomalee, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

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