follow-up to the story “John Beer’s Adventure off Peru during WWII“, I
recently connected with the daughter of Charles Reginald Boggs, from Halifax,
who was also serving on the Prince Henry at that same time in April 1941. Diane
came upon my story here, and she recalled her father’s comments about the day
of the burning and sinking of the two German ships. In fact, he recorded a bit
of the action with his personal movie camera on 16mm film, as the crew and
officers captured and took aboard the Germans from their escaping lifeboats.
recalls from viewing the film that the Canadians treated the Germans well as
they brought them onboard, handing them blankets, hot drinks and cigarettes.
Hopefully, the Canadian Military Archives will soon be converting the reel to
digital and putting it online.
among Reginald Boggs’ naval memorabilia was a news clipping of Messdeck News,
a column in a Halifax newspaper during the war, written by Annie Coade (aka
Jessie Coade). She provided the public with her own interesting naval
journalism. The clipping from November 8th, 1941, features a photo of a German
Shepherd dog and his new master Lieutenant W. Gage. My father also had a photo
of a German Shepherd in his collection of photos. Well, we were able to solve
the mystery of why this dog was on the ship. Here is an excerpt from the
of Peetsa and Lieutenant W. Gage from Messdeck News (top photo on
left) John Beer’s photo of Peetsa (bottom photo on
in news importance the old “man bites dog” tale is the story of a native of
Germany who not only had the run of a Canadian ship, but is the special pal of
every officer and man on board. The “German” is a police dog call Peetsa who
was captured along with the crew of an enemy freighter and the only one of the
company to escape internment.
was the mascot of the freighter “Hermonthis” out of Hamburg, which with
three other ships of her type were lying in the harbour of Callao, seaport of
Lima, Peru. A Canadian ship had a veritable “field day” when the enemy ships
tried to escape the harbour, and after much excitement, a lifeboat filled with
prisoners gave over its crew. Peetsa, a scared little puppy was the last aboard
and, at the risk of his life, Able Seaman Ed Suffern managed to get him on board
via a garbage pail.
enemy Captain, bound for an interment camp, asked that his dog be taken care of.
A dog of any country is still a dog, so the pup became mascot of the Royal
long after when the ship was at a Canadian port, she was compared to the famous
dog called Rin-tin-tin. An extraordinary chapter in the life of Peetsa brings
forth the fact that she was born in Peru and her seven “babies” saw daylight
when the ship touched Peru again for the first time since her arrival on board!
A twenty-hour stoppage at that.
shows her appreciation to the Canadians who adopted her by showing off a clever
trick when asked – and by formally taking care of a white kitten that belonged
to one of the messes. In the trick, her foster master Lieutenant William Gage
places a package of cigarettes high on a shelf in the wardroom.
is nonchalantly curled up in her chair. Suddenly Lt. Gage snaps “roust” and,
in a flash, Peetsa is up over the obstacles and brings the packet, unharmed,
back to her trainer. She has earned her spot on board.