Gander, formerly named Pal, was acquired as a mascot, by the Royal Rifles of Canada, who were stationed in Gander, Newfoundland during World War II. Pal had accidentally scratched a child and his owners, upset by the incident, offered him to the Royal Rifles.
In 1941, the Royal Rifles of Canada were sent, along with Gander, to Hong Kong Island to defend the island against Japanese attacks. On one occasion, Gander charged Japanese soldiers as they were approaching some wounded Canadian soldiers; most likely saving the soldiers’ lives.
Gander’s final act of bravery cost him his own life, but saved the lives of the men he was with. It was on December 19, 1941, during the Battle of Lye Mun on Hong Kong Island. During the attack, Gander picked up a grenade that had landed next to a group of soldiers and carried it away. The grenade exploded, instantly killing Gander.
Gander was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal on October 27, 2000. Gander’s medal is on permanent display in the Hong Kong section of the Canadian War Museum.