In England, the grave of a beloved war dog is removed for his name …
Can the dog do something about it? A few weeks ago, Coventry City Council decided to remove the headstone of a dog buried there since 1902. The reason was rooted in the Black Lives Matter consequence of George Flyd’s death in the US. The name of the dog who died 118 years ago was the famous « N-word ». Complaints about the grave, which is said to be hurtful, date from an earlier period, when the municipality took no action.
The dog died in July 1902 and his monument in Coombe Abbey Park, a popular cultural attraction, showed his controversial name along with the date of his death.
After complaints filed last year, Coventry City Council declined to remove the tombstone for proprietary reasons, but it was finally removed following the global protests provoked by George Floyd’s death in the United States.
A council spokesman said, « We can confirm that the historic gravestone in memory of a beloved pet has been removed. Our position on racism is clear, and although the tombstone came from a different time, it is not applicable today. «
The reason the monument was not removed last year was because it stood on a listed land, while the municipality also believed it could inform locals and tourists about racism.
And two days ago, a dog that died later happened the same. This is a much better known dog, the black labrador with the same name, who was the mascot of an RAF squadron in World War II. Wikipedia writes “N *** there was a male black labrador retriever from Wing Commander Guy Gibson of the Royal Air Force and the mascot of No. 617 Squadron. Gibson owned the dog when he was previously a member of 106 Squadron. N *** er often accompanied Gibson on training flights and was a firm favorite with members of both 106 and 617 Squadrons. He was known for his love of beer, which he drank from his own bowl in the Officers’ Mess. He died on May 16, 1943, the day of the famous « Dam Busters » attack, when he was hit by a car. He was buried at midnight when Gibson led the robbery. « N *** er » (Morse code: -. .. -. -…..) Was the code word Gibson used to confirm the breakthrough of the Möhne Dam. The RAF said the headstone had been replaced « as part of an ongoing revision of its historical assets, and that it did not want to give an offensive term that went against its ethos. » The dog’s grave is located at RAF Scampton, home to an exhibition on the mission known as Operation Chastise.
The word was used as a name for a dog in the early 20th century. A black explosive detection dog of the same name served in a Royal Engineers mine-clearing unit in 1944 during the Normandy campaign. The black dog that led a sled dog team on the Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica (1910–1913) was also called that.
Until the mid-twentieth century, the term as such was not a loaded term, and many dogs were called that. It would be a derivative of nigguh, a word meaning something like “guy”, dude, and in the 19th century it was used not only for blacks, but also for Indians, Mexicans and French.
In England, the discussion has arisen to what extent it is forgery to remove such landmarks for beloved pets, who have never chosen that name themselves. The fact that Facebook now also removes photos of the dog adds to that discussion. There has also been a discussion for several years about the removal of a tombstone for « Giro » for the simple reason that this dog was the favorite dog of Leopold von Hoesch in 1932, the German ambassador to London. Van Hoesch, incidentally, had ended up in England as a representative of the Weimar republic preceding National Socialism. Nor is there any evidence that Van Hoesch, who died in 1936, harbored Nazi sympathies.
The Giro tomb is still present in London.