Famous Freda’s Collar on Display in our Kidz HQ
Monday, July 18th, 2016
If you’re are travelling through Waiouru these July School Holidays, drop in to the National Army Museum to view Famous Freda’s dog collar, on display in our interactive Kidz HQ space!
Freda was a Harlequin Great Dane and mascot for the 5th (Reserve) Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade stationed in Cannock Chase, England during World War One. Freda’s story inspired the award-winning New Zealand children’s picture book The Anzac Puppy by Peter Millet and illustrator Trish Bowles.
As a puppy, Freda was gifted to the New Zealand troops by a local family and shared her mascot duties with the cook house cat, Snooks. Freda grew into her full size as a large Great Dane and was well known around the community, often leading route marches and ceremonial parades. It is unclear whether Freda ever traveled to the Western Front although rumours abound that she had followed the Kiwis into battle on a number of occasions.
Sadly Freda died in 1918, possibly of canine flu and was buried complete with her own headstone at the end of a line of huts at Cannock Chase. Freda’s first two headstones were harshly dealt with by weather and in 1964 her headstone was restored a third time by the Royal British Legion. In 2000 as a Millennium project, £350 was gifted to purchase a natural-looking, granite headstone. When Reverend Carol Hathorne dedicated her new headstone the ceremony drew a crowd of over 70 locals, some with their own dogs.
Freda remains something of a canine celebrity in the Cannock Chase community and her grave remains a feature of historic tours for visitors to the area. She has her own Facebook page, Freda’s Footsteps, updating followers on important canine issues and promoting awareness for responsible dog ownership in Cannock Chase.
Freda’s collar was donated to the Army Museum and over the past few years, many visitors have arrived from England hoping to catch a glimpse of a much treasured artefact.
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