Dogs of War: Man’s Best Friends During Wartime + 33 photos

 
 
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Canis lupus familiaris. Among countless species on Earth, some earned a special place in human hearts. Through thousands of years, dogs accompanied us with various tasks – they protected our households, our families and us.

Their characters find a use for herding, rescuing, guarding, sledging, hunting. Now they see a job even as a therapeutic or assistance dogs. All that supported by their exceptional senses resulted in a special relationship between them and humans.

We often abused Their loyalty by using them as an entertainment…or during a war. They never cared about politics, races, economic or geographical disputes, but once called they were ready to serve, without a word of complaint.

Role of dogs in war is often forgotten, and some parts of history will leave an eternal shame on humanity for how we’ve repaid their services. The most extensive use of dogs occurred in XX century, mostly during World War I, II and Vietnam War, names of many will remain unknown. Below we present you some of the most recognized four-legged heroes!

Napoleonic Wars

Moustache was a French poodle, participated in French Revolution, and later in Napoleonic Wars. He was born in 1799 somewhere in Northern France and recruited by local Grenadiers Regiment. That’s how his tale began.

From Caen, he and his new buddies were moved to Italy where he distinguished himself for the first time by alerting the camp about a night attack conducted by Austrians. Then, Battle of Marengo, he was a part of an army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte himself. He lost there an ear.

His career was just at dawn, as he had his role during the Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of Three Emperors, probably the most crucial victory of the entire Napoleonic Wars. Rumors say that he discovered an enemy spy and was even able to take back his unit’s banner, an act of bravery for which he lost a leg.

Presented with a medal by one of Bonaparte’s most talented generals, Jean Lannes, he was “transferred” along with French dragoons to Iberia. Among other noteworthy battles, he participated in were: Battle of Aspern-Essling (1809), where he supposedly met his love, and Siege of Badajoz (1812), where he lost his life when struck by a cannonball. He was 13.

French cuirassiers taking a position during the Battle of Austerlitz. Moustache served among this men.
French cuirassiers taking a position during the Battle of Austerlitz. Moustache served among this men.

American Civil War

Sallie Ann Jarret, an English Bull Terrier, born circa 1861, was a mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and served through almost entire Civil War. With a very unusual name for a dog, she also had a very extraordinary life for a dog.

During marches, her favorite position was on the lead and had a chance to march in front of President Abraham Lincoln (twice!).

Among notable battles she was present were: Battle of Cedar Mountain (1862); Second Battle of Bull Run (1862); Battle of Antietam (1862); Battle of Fredericksburg (1862), Battle of Chancellorsville (1863);  Battle of Gettysburg (1863); Battle of the Wilderness (1863);  Siege of Petersburg (1864-65).

She wasn’t very deadly foe, but she liked to bark at the Confederate forces from the front lines. Just that says a lot about her spirit.

On one occasion, at Gettysburg, her unit though she was lost or dead, she was found a few days later, still on the battlefield, guarding her dead and wounded comrades. Her life ended at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run (1865), killed by a bullet.

Sallie Ann Jarrett Monument in Gettysburg Battlefield, erected in 1890. Photo: Carptrash / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Sallie Ann Jarrett Monument in Gettysburg Battlefield, erected in 1890. Photo: Carptrash / CC-BY-SA 3.0

World War I

Perhaps the most famous war dog ever was Sergeant Stubby, the only canis to be promoted through combat, and the most decorated dog of the entire WW I. He was a Boston bull terrier assigned to the 26th (Yankee) Division in the Great War, served for almost two years and took part in seventeen battles in four big offensives.

Before the US entered the war, Stubby was homeless. Fate decided that in his area a local recruitment center had place in New Heaven. With his charm, he was gladly welcomed by soldiers and smuggled towards Western Front.

We all know how unique dog’s nose is. He had a chance to encounter the smell of mustard gas, an encounter that he barely survived. It marked a trauma in his mind, and luckily for his comrades, he warned them every time he smells it again – and time was priceless. It wasn’t his only beauty. He was able to hear artillery shell far earlier before human’s ears could.

Knowing that his mates were able to duck way before the rain of shells fell on their positions. Among his others merits were: finding lost companions in no-man’s-land or capturing a German spy, an action for which he was promoted to the Sergeant rank.

He survived the war and died in peace in 1926.

General John J. Pershing awards Sergeant Stubby with a medal in 1921.
General John J. Pershing awards Sergeant Stubby with a medal in 1921.

World War II

Chips was a shepherd-sled mix, born in 1940, and given to the Army in 1942. His was a sentry dog, and he was very good at it, as he became the most decorated dog of the World War II. After training in War Dog Training Center in Virginia, he was sent to North Africa with the Patton’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Torch, Husky, Avalanche, Dragon, to name few significant operations he fought in. An unsung bodyguard of Roosevelt and Churchill during the Casablanca Conference in 1943.

On Sicily, 1943, he saved his handler (Pvt. Rowell) despite the heavy machine gun fire shooting from a pillbox and was able to capture four Italian soldiers – the first surrendered with Chips on his throat, the other three followed his example.

And that was just a beginning. Soon, near Licatta, Chips was wounded in the head from a close range pistol shot and suffered powder burns, but that didn’t stop him to capture another ten Italians who tried to sneak into a camp at night, with a little help from his handler of course.

Lieutenant Lucian Truscott himself recommended Chips for the Purple Heart,  Distinguished Service Cross, and Silver Star. That caused a ruckus back home in the United States. Some were rapturous about Chips deeds, but some were angrily protesting about presenting the Purple Heart to a non-human. Among those who honored Chips with medals was General D. Eisenhower.

No soldier could brag about nipping Supreme Commander’s hand, except one dog. Chips was stripped off from his medals, but no one could strip his honor.

He probably couldn’t care less anyway. He survived the war, discharged in 1945 and died less than a year later due to complications from the wounds he received in Italy.

Chips, somewhere in Italy.
Chips, somewhere in Italy.

Smoky was a terrier that also served during World War II but in a different theater – Pacific. This little Yorkshire Terrier was found in 1944 in a foxhole, somewhere in the jungle of New Guinea. His date of birth is unknown as she was already an adult dog.

She wasn’t either under English nor Japanese ownership earlier as she didn’t know any command in those languages.

Traveling from hands to hands, Smoky was finally sold for two Australian pounds Corporal William A. Wynne, which was probably one of the best investments in his life. Smoky proved many times her worth, not in pounds or dollars, but in a priceless currency – life.

A simple service in a wartime jungle was survival in its own, constant heat and moisture was painful for every species originally outside this habitat.

Being not officially registered as a war dog left Smoky without some rights, including a veterinary service and balanced rations. Luckily, she never was ill. From a mascot, she quickly ascended to a rank of a heroine, credited with 12 combat missions and eight battle stars, and she was destined to great things.

Neither over 150 enemy air raids nor a typhoon could stop her. Corporal Wynne was continually training her with new tricks, on one occasion those turn out to be invaluable. When Americans engineers tried to revamp an ex-Japanese airfield, a maintaining safe communication became a challenge.

They had two choices – dig up a new trench to lay the wires, what would take few days of work, a lot of manpower, and all of that with a high risk of being bombed or to ask the “angel from a foxhole” for a miracle.

They tied one end of the wire to her collar and were expecting her to crawl through 21 meters long and 20cm diameter pipe (70 foot, 8 inches). And of course, she accomplished her task, despite the pipe to be half plugged by dirt. The work saved over 200 soldiers from hard work and resulted in teletype and phone lines active.

After the war, her handler smuggled her in a gas mask during Operation Magic Carpet to the United States. She survived the war and became a celebrity, also recorded as the first therapy dog. She died in 1957.

USAAF Bell P-39 Airacobra and ground crew, New Guinea, 1942.
USAAF Bell P-39 Airacobra and ground crew, New Guinea, 1942.

Vietnam War

Nemo A534, was a German Shepherd, who served with USAF in Vietnam. One of approximately 5,000 dogs of Vietnam War. When Tan Son Nhut Air Base was under attack by Viet Cong forces on 4 December 1966, Nemo was released to hunt attacking forces.

In the result, he was shot in the nose and losing his eye. He is credited with killing at least one enemy, saving his handler life and preventing further destruction. Nemo became the first dog retired from active service in 1967 when he returned home. He died five years later, at age 11.

Nemo A534
Nemo A534

There were countless more. Over 50,000 dogs served during World War I. Even more during World War II, when their use was extended, including sledging, mine detecting, or as messengers, sentries, scouts…or even as anti-tank dogs on the Eastern Front. Approximately 5,000 war dogs served during the Vietnam War, saving at least 10,000 lives.

Only 200 survived the war, as the rest was either killed or left behind. Every country in every modern war seen dogs in service in various roles. They still serve and will remain Man’s Best Friend, despite the fact we do not always deserve their affection.

Memorial Honoring the War Dogs who served in the Vietnam War. Many lost their lives. Many had to be left behind.
Memorial Honoring the War Dogs who served in the Vietnam War. Many lost their lives. Many had to be left behind.

More Photos

Mixed breed terrier Rags at Fort Hamilton in the 1920s
Mixed breed terrier Rags at Fort Hamilton in the 1920s

 

Belgian Carabiniers with dog drawn machine gun carts during the Battle of the Frontiers in 1914
Belgian Carabiniers with dog drawn machine gun carts during the Battle of the Frontiers in 1914

 

Members of the Australian 13th Battalion with a dog captured from the Turks in the Aghyl Dere valley on the Gallipoli Peninsula and named ‘Joe Bourke’. Note the small satchel strapped to the dog.
Members of the Australian 13th Battalion with a dog captured from the Turks in the Aghyl Dere valley on the Gallipoli Peninsula and named ‘Joe Bourke’. Note the small satchel strapped to the dog.

 

Judy sits up and listens to a sailor’s commands on the deck of HMS Grasshopper. She was the only animal to have been officially registered as a Japanese prisoner of war
Judy sits up and listens to a sailor’s commands on the deck of HMS Grasshopper. She was the only animal to have been officially registered as a Japanese prisoner of war

 

Gunner and his handler Percy Leslie Westcott. Taken after the bombing of Darwin in February 1942.
Gunner and his handler Percy Leslie Westcott. Taken after the bombing of Darwin in February 1942.

 

Saburo, a Japanese Army war dog, 1937
Saburo, a Japanese Army war dog, 1937

 

Soviet bicycle troops with war dogs on parade, Moscow, Russia, 1 May 1938
Soviet bicycle troops with war dogs on parade, Moscow, Russia, 1 May 1938

 

Japanese soldier with a dog, circa 1939
Japanese soldier with a dog, circa 1939

 

Marine Raiders take scouting and messenger dogs to the frontlines on Bougainville, 1943
Marine Raiders take scouting and messenger dogs to the frontlines on Bougainville, 1943

 

German Waffen-SS soldier training a dog in snow, Norway, 1940-1944. Photo: Bundesarchiv.
German Waffen-SS soldier training a dog in snow, Norway, 1940-1944. Photo: Bundesarchiv.

 

United States Coast Guardsman with M50 Reising submachine gun and dog on a beach in the United States, circa 1941-1945
United States Coast Guardsman with M50 Reising submachine gun and dog on a beach in the United States, circa 1941-1945

 

Lewis machine gun crew of the British Eastern Command, date unknown; note ammunition carrier dog ‘Mark’
Lewis machine gun crew of the British Eastern Command, date unknown; note ammunition carrier dog ‘Mark’

 

US Marine Private Michael DiPoi in exercise with a war dog, Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States, circa 1943
US Marine Private Michael DiPoi in exercise with a war dog, Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States, circa 1943

 

US Marine Private Alexander Boccardo and a Doberman Pincher war dog, Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States, circa 1943
US Marine Private Alexander Boccardo and a Doberman Pincher war dog, Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States, circa 1943

 

United States Coast Guard beach patrols drill with their sentry dogs at Hilton Head, South Carolina, United States, circa 1943
United States Coast Guard beach patrols drill with their sentry dogs at Hilton Head, South Carolina, United States, circa 1943

 

German soldier and war dog beneath a coastal gun, France, winter 1943. Photo: Bundesarchiv.
German soldier and war dog beneath a coastal gun, France, winter 1943. Photo: Bundesarchiv.

 

USMC war dog handler reading a message that his dog had just delivered, Peleliu, Palau Islands, September 1944
USMC war dog handler reading a message that his dog had just delivered, Peleliu, Palau Islands, September 1944

 

Rip, search and rescue dog, awarded the Dickin Medal for bravery in 1945, died a year later.
Rip, search and rescue dog, awarded the Dickin Medal for bravery in 1945, died a year later.

 

Pfc Reg P. Hester, 7th War Dog Platoon, 25th Regiment, United States Marine Corps took a nap while Dutch, his war dog, stood guard, Iwo Jima, February 1945
Pfc Reg P. Hester, 7th War Dog Platoon, 25th Regiment, United States Marine Corps took a nap while Dutch, his war dog, stood guard, Iwo Jima, February 1945

 

Sinbad with his crew, the U.S. Coast Guard’s most famous mascot. He have even a book about him.
Sinbad with his crew, the U.S. Coast Guard’s most famous mascot. He have even a book about him.

 

Members of the US Marine Corps Dog platoon moving up to the front lines of Iwo Jima, Japan, 1945
Members of the US Marine Corps Dog platoon moving up to the front lines of Iwo Jima, Japan, 1945

 

US Marine Corporal Virgil W. Burgess gave his dog Prince instructions on which foxhole to carry a message to, Iwo Jima, 19 February 1945
US Marine Corporal Virgil W. Burgess gave his dog Prince instructions on which foxhole to carry a message to, Iwo Jima, 19 February 1945

 

General Patton with his beloved dog Willie
General Patton with his beloved dog Willie

 

US Marine Corporal Harold Flagg and his war dog Boy posing with a Japanese flag, Okinawa, Japan, April 1945. Note the battle dressing on the dog’s fore leg.
US Marine Corporal Harold Flagg and his war dog Boy posing with a Japanese flag, Okinawa, Japan, April 1945. Note the battle dressing on the dog’s fore leg.

 

US Marine Private John Drugan and his war dog, Okinawa, Japan, May 1945.
US Marine Private John Drugan and his war dog, Okinawa, Japan, May 1945.

 

U.S. Army SP4 Bealock and German Shepherd scout dog “Chief” on patrol in Vietnam.
U.S. Army SP4 Bealock and German Shepherd scout dog “Chief” on patrol in Vietnam.

 

A scout dog leading a patrol in a search for Vietcong.
A scout dog leading a patrol in a search for Vietcong.

 

Dustin Lee (killed in 2007 in Iraq) and Lex in Iraq. Photo: L. Rich / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Dustin Lee (killed in 2007 in Iraq) and Lex in Iraq. Photo: L. Rich / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Lucca (Dickin Medal recipient) with her handler, Cpl Juan M Rodriguez
Lucca (Dickin Medal recipient) with her handler, Cpl Juan M Rodriguez

 

USAF Belgian Malinois named Jackson on a M2A3, Iraq, 2007.
USAF Belgian Malinois named Jackson on a M2A3, Iraq, 2007.
 
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