The British, Commonwealth and Allied forces enlisted
many millions of animals to serve and often die alongside their armies. These animals were chosen for a variety of their natural
instincts and vast numbers were killed, often suffering agonising deaths from wounds, starvation, thirst, exhaustion, disease
Horses, Mules and Donkeys
Eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys died in
the First World War. They were used to transport ammunition and supplies to the front and many died, not only from the horrors
of shellfire but also in terrible weather and appalling conditions. Mules were found to have tremendous stamina in extreme
climates and over the most difficult terrain, serving courageously in the freezing mud on the Western Front and later at Monte
Cassino in World War II. Equally they toiled unflinchingly in the oppressive heat of Burma, Eritrea and Tunisia. There are
many inspiring and often tragic stories of the great devotion and loyalty shown between horses, mules and donkeys and their
masters during some of the bloodiest conflicts of the 20th century, as can be read in Jilly Cooper's moving book Animals
in War, published by Corgi.
The dog's innate qualities of intelligence and devotion were valued
and used by the forces in conflicts throughout the century. Among their many duties, these faithful animals ran messages,
laid telegraph wires, detected mines, dug out bomb victims and acted as guard or patrol dogs. Many battled on despite horrific
wounds and in terrifying circumstances to the limit of their endurance, showing indomitable courage and supreme loyalty to
More than 100,000 pigeons served Britain in the First World War and 200,000
in World War II. They performed heroically and saved thousands of lives by carrying vital messages, sometimes over long distances,
when other methods of communication were impossible. Flying at the rate of a mile a minute from the front line, from behind
enemy lines or from ships or aeroplanes, these gallant birds would struggle on through all weathers, even when severely wounded
and exhausted, in order to carry their vital messages home.
Elephants, camels, oxen, bullocks,
cats, canaries, even glow worms — all these creatures, great and small, contributed their strength, their energy and
their lives in times of war and conflict to the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces during the 20th century.
The Schnauzer, as one might expect from the name, is
definitely of German origin. The German word "schnauzer" means "muzzle". In Germany today there are three
recognized Schnauzers, the Giant, the Standard and the Miniature. Among the characteristics that the three Schnauzers have
in common is the distinctive look of the head, which has a beard and mustache and heavy brows of hair over the eyes. The body
structure is quite square in appearance. The coat is "wire-haired" and harsh, a typical terrier type of coat which
is stripped since it will not shed naturally. The colors of salt and pepper or black are most common. The purposes of all
three dogs are quite different.
Paintings depict the Standard Schnauzer as early as 1842. The Standard is considered
the "foundation stock" of both the Miniature and the Giant. It is believed that the Giant Schnauzer was bred from
the Standard Schnauzer by crossbreeding the Standard with some of the larger breeds of the day such as the Great Dane and
perhaps the Bouvier des Flandres, a drover's dog. The Giant schnauzer was meant to serve the function of a drovers dog
and a draft dog. The breed served a useful purpose in the farmer's market guarding produce carts besides pulling the carts
to the market. The dogs were also used as livestock guardians.
The height of the male is 25 to 27 inches and of
the female, 23 to 25 inches. The American Kennel Club standard remarks that dogs that are too large "lack the agility
and maneuverability " of a working dog and can not perform the work for which they were intended. The Giant Schnauzer
must posses a certain strength and power, what is often called "drive" from the rear quarters in order to pull a
cart and so there is good angulation in the rear, with strong straight forelegs and a "well laid back" shoulder,
with nearly a right angle at the shoulder, also a necessity for length of stride and powerful pulling. The Giant Schnauzer
is a large dog that is still in use today as a general livestock guardian on many German farms, besides being a much loved
family guardian and pet. The breed gained popularity after World War I.
The dog was used as a military dog during
the war, where it's strong working abilities were much admired. During the war the dog often served as a messenger dog,
often braving the enemy fire to travel to its destination carrying the orders of the day. It is still used in the world today
in some places as a military dog, bomb sniffer and search and rescue dog. The typical personality of this large dog is one
of friendliness and willingness to work for people. This is a breed that does not accept harsh punishment. A Giant Schnauzer
will do anything for its master, with an extreme sense of loyalty and protection. Positive training will reap great rewards
with a Giant Schnauzer.
Sentry dogs were
used to defend camps or other priority areas at night and rarely during the day. They would bark or growl to alert civilian
or military guards of a stranger's presence. During the cold war, American military used sentry dog teams outside of nuclear
weapons storage areas. A test program was conducted in Viet Nam to test Sentry Dogs. It was launched two days after a successful
Viet Cong attack (July 1, 1965) on Da Nang Air Base. Forty dog teams were deployed to Viet Nam for a four month test period.
Dog teams were placed on the perimeter in front of machine gun towers/bunkers. The detection of intruders resulted in a rapid
deployment of reinforcements. The test was successful. Handlers returned to the US and dogs were reassigned to new handlers.
The Air Force immediately started to ship dog teams to all the bases in Viet Nam and Thailand.
The buildup of
American forces in Viet Nam created large dog sections at USAF Southeast Asia (SEA) bases. Four hundred and sixty seven (467)
dogs were eventually assigned to Bien Hoa, Bien Thuy, Cam Ranh Bay, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Tuy Hoa, Phu Cat, Phan Rang, Tan Son
Nhut, and Pleiku Air Bases. Within a year of deployment, attacks on several bases had been stopped when the enemy forces were
detected by dog teams. Captured Viet Cong told of the fear and respect that they had for the dogs. The Viet Cong even placed
a bounty on lives of handlers and dogs. The success of sentry dogs was determined by the lack of successful penetrations of
bases in Viet Nam and Thailand. Sentry Dogs were also used by the Army, Navy, and Marines to protect the perimeter of large
During the Second World War, the United States came up with the idea of a Bat bomb using the Mexican
Free-tailed Bat as a delivery system for incendiaries which the Americans would use on Japan. It was hoped that after dropping
this bomb, the bats would be released to fly into attics and other dark places in the Japanese cities.
After a set period
of time the incendiaries would go off and burn down whatever buildings the bats had roosted in. The program was halted because
of the first atomic bomb test. They never saw operational service.
ccording to Pr. Shi Bo, in "Trente-six
Stratagèmes Chinois", monkeys were used, in the beginning of the Southern Song Dynasty, in a battle between rebels
of the Yanzhou province and the Chinese Imperial Army, led by Zhao Yu. The monkeys were used as live incendiary devices. The
animals were clothed with straw, dipped in oil and set on fire. They were set loose into the enemy's camp, thereby setting
the tents on fire, and driving the whole camp into chaos. In World War II, the Soviets attempted to use anti-tank dogs.
In World War II, the USA attempted to use pigeons to guide missiles.
also known as dog mines, were starving dogs with explosives harnessed to their back and trained to seek food under enemy tanks
and armoured vehicles. By doing so, a small wooden lever would be tripped, detonating the explosives.
were employed by the Soviet Union during World War II, to be used against German tanks. The dogs would be starved, then trained
to find food under a tank. The dogs quickly learned that being released from their pens meant to run out to where a tank was
parked and find some victuals. Once trained, the dogs would be fitted with an explosive charge and set loose into a field
of oncoming German tanks. When the dog went underneath the tank where there was less armour the charge would detonate and
gut the enemy vehicle.
Realization of that plan was less successful. The Hundeminen, as they were called by the Germans,
had been trained using Soviet tanks, and would sometimes be loosed into a battle only to turn round and attack the Soviets'
own forces. Other times the dogs would spook at the rumble of a vehicle's engine and run away.
During World War II, the Soviet Union trained anti-tank
dogs. These dogs were taught to find food under tanks. They were then starved until a battle occurred, during which they would
be released to seek food. The dogs wore a pouched canvas overcoat in which high explosives were placed. When they ducked under
a tank in search of food, the explosives were actuated by means of a tilt fuse on the dog's back, which when bent or broken
set off the explosives in the dog's overcoat, with the hope of destroying the tank. Obviously, a cruel by-product of this
practice was the brutal death of the unsuspecting wardog.
These dogs were apparently successful at damaging many
German tanks, reportedly disabling eleven armoured fighting vehicles in a single battle. They were considered dangerous enough
by the Germans that Panzer grenadiers were ordered to shoot all dogs on sight. However, the dogs were unable to distinguish
allied from enemy tanks, and were also easily scared away from battle, and from moving tanks, despite their hunger. The project
was eventually abandoned.
are creatures that have been employed by mankind for use in warfare. They are a specific application of working animals. Generally
these animals are domesticated creatures, such as the dog or horse; more exotic animals such as the elephant and the pig have
also seen use during wartime. Animals have even been awarded medals for their courage in battle.
horse has been the most widely-used animal throughout the recorded history of warfare. Early mounts could be used to pull
the chariot or to carry lightly armored skirmishing forces. With the appearance of heavier mounts and the invention of the
stirrup, the horse-mounted cavalry became the most prestigious military arm in Europe for several centuries. The combination
of the horse-mounted warrior armed with a bow made the Mongol army the most powerful military force in Asian history.
Dogs were often used as unit mascots for military units.
The dog in question might be an officer's dog, an animal that the unit chose to adopt, or one of their canines employed
in another role as a working dog. Some units also chose to employ a particular breed of dog as their standard mascot, with
new dogs replacing the old when it died or was retired. The presence of a mascot was designed to uplift morale, and many were
used to this effect in the trenches of World War I.
'British Magazines during the Great War'
Not much is written about the heroics of early war dogs.
Even today's modern canine soldier is practically invisible to all but those who work with them side by side in the trenches.
But war dogs have a colourful and courageous history stretching all the way back to ancient Egypt. Dogs were deployed for
service by ancient Britannia, France, Spain, Normandy, Russia and some Asian societies. But it was the Roman legions who are
best known for utilizing the full force of their canine soldiers.
Early Egyptians used a Molassian dog. Romans
were fond of the mastiff and a breed called the Talbot, an ancestor of today's bloodhound. Attila the Hun used a giant
Molosser dogs in his campaign. The Irish used Irish Wolfhounds to strip the enemy soldiers off their horses and kill them.
In more recent times, the German Shepherd, Lab, Doberman Pincher and Bouvier de Flandres are chosen for their size, intelligence
and strength. Modern armies also used mixed breed dogs.
Often war dogs would be fitted with spiked collars
to protect their necks from attacks by enemy war dogs. The Romans designed special armor for their legions of war dogs. Some
of the armor was more advanced than even the human foot soldiers' armor. Today's war dogs don't perform "hand-to-paw"
combat like the war dogs of ancient times. So there is less need for body armor.
In ancient times,
war dogs performed their duties skillfully. In combat, dogs were armored and sent in for direct close-quarters battle. They
were specifically trained to bite extremely hard, exerting as much as 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch: enough to
pulverize human bones.
Canine soldiers were also trained to cut off reinforcements, to track and kill retreating
soldiers, and to fight other dogs. In fact, in 1476, a regiment of Swiss battle dogs annihilated an entire formation of canine
soldiers from Burgundy.
As sentries, dogs were trained to guard troops, supplies, livestock, and prisoners. Some
were trained so well that a prisoner was not bound or held by any means: if he made an attempt to escape, he was ferociously
put down by his canine guard.
Ancient war dogs were also trained to track and scout. These specialized dogs were actually
able to track and report on enemy positions and concentrations. They also hunted retreating enemies and soldiers that had
Modern Day Soldiers
Today's war dog is used more to aid allied soldiers than to engage and attack
the enemy. This change is primarily due to the change in warfare tactics. Long range missiles have replace swords and arrows.
Delivering messages is a vital role for modern war dogs. Modern dogs of war have saved thousands of lives by serving
as messengers. In the Vietnam war alone, it is estimated that the 4,000 dogs that served saved as many as 10,000 American
lives. These dogs delivered messages to reserve troops, mortar batteries, and battle headquarters through heavy enemy fire.
One U.S. canine soldier was reportedly shot nine times during a mission, but nevertheless still delivered his message, collapsing
into death immediately after his job was done.
As medics, strong dogs are trained to bring medicine and comfort to wounded
and dying soldiers in the field. Some of these dogs are even provided with "suicide" medication for soldiers who
are badly wounded and will likely die or be captured. Others are trained to do nothing more than sit by the side of a dying
soldier. Exceptional dogs are trained to pull wounded soldiers to safety.
Some of the larger, stronger breeds are
trained as draught dogs. Mastiffs, Rottweilers, Irish Wolfhounds, and other very large breeds have been used to haul machine
guns, litters, mortars, and other supplies.
Sadly, some modern war dogs are trained to execute kamikaze missions.
In WWII, Russians strapped dogs with explosives and sent them out to explode underneath German tanks. Today, Israeli forces
have been known to outfit Rottweilers with explosives and send them into enemy positions to detonate.
With their heightened
sense of smell, today's most advanced military dogs are specially trained to detect mines, traps, IED's, and other
types of explosives. They also are used to detect and uncover weapons caches.
Though they gladly give their lives in
defense and protection of their human counterparts, there is, as yet, no permanent memorial to these amazing war dogs. They
have become so integrated into our military that they have been given officer rank, been knighted, and awarded medals. Their
courage and loyalty should never be forgotten.
Geoffrey A. English
Many dogs were used to locate mines. They did not prove
to be very effective under combat conditions. Marine mine detecting dogs were trained using bare electric wires beneath the
ground surface. The wires shocked the dogs, teaching them that danger lurked under the dirt. Once the dog's focus was
properly directed, dummy mines were planted and the dogs were trained to signal their presence. While the dogs effectively
found the mines, the task proved so stressful for the dogs they were only able to work between 20 and 30 minutes at a time.
The mine detecting war dogs anticipated random shocks from the heretofore friendly earth, making them extremely nervous. The
useful service life of the dogs was not long. Experiments with lab rats show that this trend can be very extreme, in some
tests rats even huddled in the corner to the point of starvation to avoid electric shock.
Dogs have historically
also been used in many cases to track fugitives and enemy troops, overlapping partly into the duties of a scout dog, but use
their olfactory skill in tracking a scent, rather than warning a handler at the initial presentation of a scent.
Pliny the Elder
wrote about the use of war pigs against elephants. As he relates it, elephants became scared by the squeal of a pig and would
panic, bringing disaster to any soldiers who stood in their path of flight. It is unsubstantiated that rhinoceros were
used for war functions. Analyzing Albrecht Dürer's famous 1515 woodcut, it is possible that the
liberties taken with the rhino's design were in fact designs for a suit of armour created for the rhinoceros's fight
against an elephant in Portugal.However, rhinos' apparent "thick" or "plated" skin is actually very
sensitive and the animals have poor eyesight, limiting their ability to run in any particular direction. Their tendency to
charge anything within 10 feet would make them impractical for domestication. It is said that War Elephants were used by some
African and Eastern nations in combat, such as Carthage and India.
America's first war dog, Stubby, served 18 months
'over there' and participated in eighteen battles on the Western Front. He saved his regiment from surprise mustard
gas attacks, found and comforted the wounded, and even once caught a German spy by the seat of his pants. Back home his exploits
were front page news of every major newspaper.
breed was unknown, as no one ever discovered where he hailed from originally. One day he appeared at Yale Field in New Haven,
Connecticut; while a group of soldiers were training, stopping to make friends with soldiers as they drilled. One soldier,
Corporal Robert Conroy, developed a fondness for the dog. When it became time for the outfit to ship out, Conroy hid Stubby
on board the troop ship.
Stubby served with
the 102nd Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division in the trenches in France for 18 months and participated in four offensives and
18 battles. He entered combat on February 5, 1918 at Chemin des Dames, north of Soissons, and was under constant fire, day
and night for over a month. In April 1918, during a raid to take Schieprey, Stubby was wounded in the foreleg by the retreating
Germans throwing hand grenades. He was sent to the rear for convalescence, and as he had done on the front was able to improve
morale. When he recovered from his wounds, Stubby returned to the trenches.
After being gassed himself, Stubby learned to warn his unit of poison gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in no
man's land, and — since he could hear the whine of incoming artillery shells before humans could — became
very adept at letting his unit know when to duck for cover. He was solely responsible for capturing a German spy in the Argonne.
Following the retaking of Château-Thierry by the US, the thankful women of the town made Stubby a chamois coat on which
were pinned his many medals. There is also a legend that while in Paris with Corporal Conroy, Stubby saved a young girl from
being hit by a car. At the end of the war, Conroy smuggled Stubby home.
Chips the dog
was the most decorated war dog from World War II. Chips was a German Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix owned by Edward J. Wren of
Pleasantville, NY. During the war, private citizens like Wren donated their dogs for duty. Chips shipped out to the War Dog
Training Center, Front Royal, Virginia, in 1942 for training as a sentry dog. He served with the 3rd Infantry Division in
North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany. His handler was Pvt. John P. Rowell. Chips served as a sentry dog for the
Roosevelt-Churchill conference in 1943. Later that year, during the invasion of Sicily, Chips and his handler were pinned
down on the beach by an Italian machine-gun team. Chips broke from his handler and jumped into the pillbox, attacking the
gunners. The four crewmen were forced to leave the pillbox and surrendered to US troops. In the fight he sustained a scalp
wound and powder burns. Later that day, he helped take 10 Italians prisoner. For his actions during the war, he was awarded
the Silver Star and Purple Heart; however these awards were later revoked. His unit unofficially awarded him a Theater Ribbon
with an Arrowhead for an assault landing, and Battlestars for each of his eight campaigns. Chips was discharged in December
1945 and returned to the Wren family.
A Soldier's Kiss
by Henry Chappell
Only a dying horse! pull off the gear,
And slip the needless bit from frothing jaws,
aside there, leaving the road way clear,
The battery thunders
on with scarce a pause.
Prone by the shell-swept highway there
With quivering limbs, as fast the life-tide fails,
Dark films are closing o’er the faithful eyes
That mutely plead for aid where none avails.
the battery rolls, but one there speeds
Needlessly of comrades
voice or bursting shell,
Back to the wounded friend who lonely
Beside the stony highway where he fell.
Only a dying horse! he swiftly kneels,
Lifts the limp head and hears the shivering sigh
his friend, while down his cheek there steals
tear, "Goodbye old man, Goodbye".
No honours wait him, medal, badge or star,
could war a kindlier deed unfold;
He bears within his breast,
more precious far
Beyond the gift of kings, a heart of gold.
After the attack at Pearl Harbour, in 1942, the U.S.
Military joined with the American Kennel Club to establish Dogs for Defense. The American Kennel Club recruited dog owners
to donate quality canines to the military. The Quartermasters Corps was responsible for supplies, food service and materials
management. On March 13, 1942, the Quartermaster Corps of the army took charge of turning these pets into soldiers. The U.S.
Marines also trained handlers and canines to be soldiers in the Pacific during World War II.
At first there were
over 300 breeds of dogs accepted into the program, but eventually the list was narrowed down to German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian
Sheepdogs, Doberman Pinschers, Farm Collies and Giant Schnauzers. Of the 19,000 dogs screened for the program between 1942
and 1945, 45% were rejected. In the beginning, civilian volunteers trained the recruits, but after the first training center
opened in Front Royal, Virginia, the training was done by the Quartermasters Corps soldiers for the Army and the Marines trained
their own canines.
The training took 12 weeks. It started with basic obedience and progressed to training with gas masks,
muzzles, military vehicles and gunfire. After the basic training was complete, the dogs were moved on to training in specific
Sentry dogs: Walked on short leashes and warned their handlers by growling and barking. They were always
on patrol with their handlers.
Scout or Patrol dogs: These dogs did the duties of the sentry dog but they were trained
to work silently. They detected snipers or ambushes from the enemy. These canine soldiers saved the lives of many of their
Messenger dogs: These dogs required extreme loyalty because they were used to silently carry messages
back and forth between their two handlers.
Mine dogs: These canines were trained to find trip wires and mines.
There were 140 dogs trained as mine dogs during World War II, but it was determined that the dogs had trouble finding mines
The majority of the dogs were trained as sentries. Of the 9,300 dogs that were trained, 3,174 were
used by the Coast Guard. These dogs were used to guard the coastline, harbor defense and protecting industrial plants and
In 1944, the military started using canines for combat. The sentry dogs in combat could detect enemy
soldiers up to 1,000 yards away. In order to alert their handler without giving away their positions, the dogs would stiffen,
and the hair on the dog's back would stand up. Over the years, military working canines have been used in not only World
War II, but Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and they are currently deployed in Iraq. It is noted that in Vietnam,
canine war dogs saved as many as 10,000 lives.
One of the first war memorials was erected on Asan beach in Guam in 1944.
It was moved to the United States Naval Base on the island in 1994. This particular memorial is dedicated to the Dobermans
that served with the Marines during World War II. The inscription on the memorial statue reads..."always faithful".
They have barrelled into the fiercest battles of history. They have risked their lives for fallen comrades. They have remained
loyal until death guarding, encouraging, fighting until all, but their spirit, was lost. Dogs have certainly proved effective
in battles throughout history. As weapons of wars they have been ferocious, courageous and intelligent. But it is their spirit,
that undying and ever-faithful spirit that has inspired men in arms and rallied them during history's bloodiest battles.
When their effectiveness as weapons of war past they continued contributing to the fight guarding the men, inspiring them,
helping them to communicate.
With the appearance
of modern ranged weapons and motorised vehicles, the use of the horse for military purposes fell into decline. However the
horse was still used extensively by the German Army during World War II for transporting supplies and equipment, including
artillery. The U.S. Army also used pack horses during the war.
While elephants are considered domesticable, they can
be trained to serve as mounts, or for moving heavy loads. Sanskrit hymns record their use for military purposes as early as
1,100 B.C. A group of elephants was notably employed by Hannibal during the Punic Wars. They were employed as recently as
World War II by both the Japanese and Allies. Elephants could perform the work of machines in locations where vehicles could
not penetrate, so they found considerable use in the Burma theater.
it is their pack nature or willingness to please their human counterparts that have made them so essential in battle, but
since the dawn of warfare they have plunged head first into the fight. The Romans were not the first, but may very well have
used war dogs the most effectively. The Roman Army had whole companies composed entirely of dogs. They wore spiked collars
around their neck and ankles, made more dangerous by the large curved knives protruding from its ring. Sometimes they were
starved before battle, then unleashed on an unsuspecting enemy. Their dog of choice was the great Molossian dogs of Epirus,
specifically trained for battle. These dogs, halved starved and ferocious, helped spread the Roman Empire across the ancient
world. They dominated battles until they meet their match in the Britain, where powerful Mastiffs called Pugnaces Britanniae
had been born and breed.
Camels have typically
seen use as mounts in arid regions. They are better able to traverse sandy deserts than horses, and require far less water.
Camels were employed in both world wars. Camels are used by the Indian Army & Border Security Force for patrolling in
the desert regions of Rajasthan.
Mules were used by the U.S. Army during World War II to carry supplies and equipment
over difficult terrain. Pack animals that are innately patient, cautious, and hardy, mules could carry heavy loads of supplies
where Jeeps and even pack horses could not travel. Mules were used in North Africa, Burma, the Philippines, and in Italy.
They are also used for transporting supplies in mountainous regions. Oxen have been used widely in war as beasts of
burden, especially to transport heavy or siege artillery through heavy terrain.
have seen use since the time of the french revolution for carrying messages. They were employed for a similar purpose during
the world war I. In wwii, experiments were performed in the use of the pigeon for guiding missiles, known as project pigeon.
The pigeon was placed inside so that they could see out through a window. They were trained to peck at controls to the left
or right, depending on the location of a target shape.
Dogs were used by the ancient greeks for war purposes, and they
were undoubtedly used much earlier in history. During their conquest of latin america, conquistadores used mastiffs to kill
warriors in the caribbean, mexico and peru. Mastiffs, as well as great danes, were used in england during the middle ages,
where their large size was used to scare horses to throw off their riders or to pounce on knights on horseback, disabling
them until their master delivered the final blow. More recently, canines with explosives strapped to their backs saw use during
world war ii in the soviet army as anti-tank weapons. In other armies, they were used for detecting mines. They were trained
to spot trip wires, as well as mines and other booby traps. They were also employed for sentry duty, and to spot snipers or
hidden enemy forces. Some dogs also saw use as messengers.
Beginning in the cold war era, research has been done into
the uses of many species of marine mammals for military purposes. The u.s. Navy marine mammal program uses military dolphins
and sea lions for underwater sentry duty, mine clearance, and object recovery.
On land, the gambian giant pouched rat
has been used with considerable success in demining, as its keen sense of smell helps in the identification of explosives
and its small size prevents it from triggering mines.
Cats were used in the royal navy to control vermin on board ships.
Able seacat simon of hms amethyst received the dickin medal.
Simon was born
probably in the latter part of 1947, on Stonecutters Island, Hong Kong, a busy naval dockyard at the time. (A resident of
Stonecutter's Island later tried to research Simon's parentage, but without success.) A few months later, early in
1948, the Royal Navy's HMS Amethyst called there for supplies; she was based in Hong Kong, but had been on operations
in Malaya. One day Simon was found in the dockyard looking in need of a good meal by Ordinary Seaman George Hickinbottom from
the ship; he was a 17-year-old at the time and had joined in the previous November. The cats of Stonecutters Island were well
known for becoming ships' cats and George decided to smuggle the waif aboard. To avoid the man on watch, he concealed
the cat under his tunic and took him to his tiny space hardly a cabin that served as his accommodation. George had been appointed
'captain of the fo'c'sle', meaning that he had to ensure that everything there was kept shipshape and in good
order. As such, he was quartered close to the captain's cabin.
A war dog (or
wardog) is a dog trained for war. Dogs have been used in wars since ancient times. Their jobs have varied over the years,
from being trained to track with their acute sense of smell, to bringing down infantry or even horses by biting into the hamstrings
of their targets.
The history of war dogs is long and detailed, stretching up to conflicts ongoing today. In
ancient times, they disrupted battle lines and frightened soldiers. Their use was much lessened as the ages drew on, however.
Stubby, a war dog of World War I, was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Chips, a German Shepherd mix, and Smoky, a Yorkshire
Terrier, were honored for service in World War II.
Gifts of wardog breeding stock between European royalty were
seen as suitable tokens for exchange throughout the Middle Ages. Wardogs were used by England against the Gaels in Ireland
and by many European forces, such as Spanish Conquistadors, in the New World.
The K9 Corps was born just over 68 years ago.
March 13, 1942, Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson signed a historic document. The letter officially allowed dogs in the
At the time, the US military did not have their own K9s. Many dog owners donated their animals for the war
effort. After the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the American Kennel Association and Dogs for Defense encouraged even more private
citizens to do the same.
Initially, around 30 dog breeds were accepted in the K9 Corps. This list was later narrowed
down to 5, one of which is the German Shepherd. The military initially relied on donated dogs and then acquired their own
for breeding as military K9s.
The first War Dog Reception & Training Center was opened in Front Royal, Virginia.
Other locations were added, as the demand for war dogs grew.
Basic Military K9 training lasted from eight to twelve
weeks. After learning the fundamentals of basic dog obedience, the dogs were then trained for their military experience. This
included exposing them to gas masks, gunfire, muzzles and riding in military vehicles.
After graduation, the dogs
were evaluated and selected for one of four specialized training tracks:
* Sentry dogs were taught
to give an alert when strangers came near a protected area.
* Patrol dogs, also known as Scout dogs
worked in silence, and commonly served as point on combat patrols.
* Messenger dogs worked with two
handlers to discreetly deliver messages hidden inside their collars.
* Mine Detector Dogs, or Mine
Dogs were trained to find booby traps and trip wires.
Dogs in the K9 Corps not only served to boost morale for war weary
troops, they also saved countless lives. Due to their superior senses, they can detect danger that humans are unable to discern.
An effort is under way to establish March 13 as Military K9 Veterans Day. Let us honor these four legged heroes who put
themselves in harms way to save our soldiers from countless ambushes and surprise attacks.
These dogs were used
to locate mines. They did not prove to be very effective under combat conditions.
According to Lt. William Putney DVM, USMC War Dog
Platoon, GUAM, WW2, mine detecting dogs were trained using bare electric wires beneath the ground surface. The wires shocked
the dogs, teaching them that danger lurked under the dirt. Once the dog's focus was properly directed, dummy mines were
planted and the dogs were trained to signal their presence.
Dr. Putney related that while the dogs effectively found the mines, the task proved so stressful
for the dogs they were only able to work between 20 and 30 minutes at a time. The mine detecting war dogs anticipated random
shocks from the heretofore friendly earth, making them extremely nervous. The useful service life of the dogs was not long.
Experiments with lab rats show that this trend can be very extreme, in some tests rats even huddled in the corner to the point
of starvation to avoid electric shock.
Dogs have been
used in war for a very long time. Some ancient civilizations that used war dogs included the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Ancient
Britons and the Romans. The Molossian 'Canis Molossus' dog of Epirus was the strongest known to the Romans, and were
specifically trained for battle by the military.
About the time World War I broke out, many Europeans
used dogs to pull small carts. Many European armies adapted the process for military use. The Belgian Army used dogs to pull
their Maxim Guns and other supplies or wounded in their carts. The French had 250 dogs at the start of World War I. The Dutch
army copied the idea and had hundreds of dogs trained and ready by the end of World War I (the Netherlands remained neutral).
The Soviet army also used dogs to drag wounded men to aid stations during WWII. The dogs were well-suited to transporting
loads over snow and through craters.
Dogs were often used to carry messages in battle. They would be turned loose
to move silently to a second handler. This required a dog which was very loyal to two masters, otherwise the dog would not
deliver the message on time, or at all. Some messenger dogs also performed other communication jobs, such as pulling telephone
lines from one location to another.
Canaries, used for the detection of poisonous gas
The Alsatian, commonly known as the German Shepherd
Dog, is a working dog breed that often acts as military dogs, guard dogs, police dogs, or search and rescue dogs. They are
used because they can be trained in protection and obedience easily and they like to please their owners.
German Shepherd Dogs are large, strong dogs that have coats
with either long or short hair. Their coats' colors vary, but are mostly seen in tan and brown. However, there are some
German Shepherds who are completely black or white. German Shepherds' ears stand up erect and they also have long tails.
There are several lines of German Shepherd, all
of which have different looks, behavior and skills. The international working line of German Shepherds are bred as working
dogs. They are quite tough but their appearance varies. The North American show line of German Shepherds are bred for their
appearance, which is unique to them. Their backs are more angled than a typical German Shepherd's and unfortunately this
can be bad for their backs. They are also believed to not have the working dog traits of the other lines. The international
show line of German Shepherd Dog also is bred more so on appearance, so they typically look the same.
German Shepherds tend to develop great loyalty and are very
obedient towards their owners. Due to their strong teeth and jaws, they can be trained to attack. Unfortunately, they can
also become too aggressive or become fearful if not bred properly. Many of these types of dogs, who are either poorly bred
or have owners who don't train them properly, end up in puppy mills. Since German Shepherds are frequently used as attack
and police dogs, they have received an image of being quite dangerous. However, most German Shepherds make great pets for
families and are not aggressive.
Shepherds are very emotional dogs and are quite loyal. They are sometimes used as guide dogs, but that is on the decline as
they can get separation anxiety and trauma. As stated earlier, different lines of German Shepherds vary in temperament. Working
dogs have more energy and are more obedient. They are intelligent and become upset if they do not get enough exercise. They
like to have a job to do, which is why they are often used as rescue dogs. North American lines of German Shepherd Dogs are
more fitted for the role of companions.
their large size, German Shepherds can suffer from elbow problems and hip dysplasia. They may have skin allergies or have
von Willebrand's disease. The average life span of a German Shepherd is twelve years.
German Shepherd Dogs were discovered in the late 1800s by Captain Max von Stephanitz
and were meant to be a diverse working dog. American and British soldiers of World War I then brought German Shepherds to
their homes and they became popular dogs. They were used as family pets and as working dogs.
German Shepherds are very versatile in the type of things they can
do. They are highly intelligent and like to please and protect their owners. For this reason, they can become great guard
dogs, rescue dogs, or police dogs and also make good pets for families.