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One of the reasons I decided to write the books was to remind people that animals have served and died alongside humans in wars for thousands of years. Ancient civilisati­ons used horses and dogs on battlefiel­ds, and pigeons to deliver messages; the Romans even used flaming pigs as weapons against Carthagini­an elephants, but it wasn’t until the height of WW2 that animals gained any recognitio­n for gallantry.

Instituted in 1943, the PDSA Dickin Medal acknowledg­es outstandin­g acts of bravery displayed by animals serving in military or civil defence units during wartime. Thirty-four dogs, 32 pigeons, four horses and a cat have been recipients, and some appear in the Umbrella Mouse books, so more people can be aware of these incredible creatures who saved countless lives while risking their own.

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