Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 1 November 2010
Freda, wartime-hero dog, remembered on Armistice Day
Freda's grave
Freda had provided warmth and companionship to New Zealand soldiers

A special ceremony to celebrate service working dogs is taking place at Cannock Chase this Armistice Day 2010.

The event has been inspired by a much-loved dalmatian dog named Freda, who was adopted by wartime soldiers.

She was the mascot of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade while the regiment was stationed in south Staffordshire during World War I.

Freda died in 1918 and was buried at Cannock Chase. Members of the brigade erected a headstone in her memory.

Freda's origins are unclear - but one story is that she was found by the regiment while they were fighting in France. She meant so much to the soldiers they took her back with them to their base in south Staffordshire.

Her grave was cared for by local villagers around the chase but was later vandalised. A marble memorial was later erected by the Friends of Cannock Chase in 1964.

Her collar and lead are still kept at New Zealand's National Army Museum in Waiouru.

Working dogs

Managers at the Cannock Chase site is inviting working dogs and their owners to honour the memory of Freda, and dogs like her. The service takes place by Freda's grave on Thursday, 11 November at 2pm.

Cllr Tony Williams, Cannock Chase Council's Portfolio Leader for the Environment, said: "The loyalty and service of our working dogs is often forgotten, and we thought this Armistice Day would be a good opportunity to take a moment to celebrate them, and to remember any dogs that are no longer with us.

"Whether you are remembering the bravery of a military or police dog, or a missed service dog, everyone is welcome to come to this short service."

Freda's memorial can be found off Chase Road, in the village of Brocton, south-east of Stafford. It is marked 'Meml' on the Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 244 - Cannock Chase - and its grid reference is SJ978188.
More details on the Chase website .

A new leaflet, called Freda's Footsteps, will be handed out and contains useful advice for dog walkers. They will also be available in local visitor centres.

Military memorials

Cannock Chase has been used extensively by the military, particularly during the Great War, for training purposes.

It also hosts military memorials. A monument to the Polish people who lost their lives in the Katyn Massacre is sited there, as is the German War Graves cemetery - for German soldiers, including those who died in captivity in this country.

Cannock Chase - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

In England and Wales landscapes considered most valuable are designated as National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). These landscapes are protected by law and managed to maintain their special character for now and the future.

Cannock Chase was designated as an AONB in 1958 because of its beautiful landscape, wildlife and history. It has the largest surviving area of lowland heathland in the Midlands. This is an internationally scarce and threatened habitat. Cannock Chase also has extensive areas of forest and woodland.

Cannock Chase AONB is funded by Natural England, Cannock Chase Council, Lichfield District Council, South Staffordshire Council, Staffordshire County Council and Stafford Borough Council.

Katyn Massacre remembered
19 May 10 |  Religion & Ethics

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific