#WarriorWednesday: The Dogs of WWII

1st Marine War Dog Platoon's Private First Class John Kleeman and Caesar, serial 05H, an 87-pound (39.4-kilogram) German Shepherd.

1st Marine War Dog Platoon’s Private First Class John Kleeman and Caesar, serial 05H, an 87-pound (39.4-kilogram) German Shepherd.

In January 1942, not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), the American Kennel Association and Dogs for Defense mobilized dog owners across the country to donate working dogs to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps. This spawned the beginning of the U.S. military working dog program.

War dogs were active on the Italian front. The 33rd QM Co., 1st Squad had a group of war dogs attached to the 6th South African Division, who together with their handlers patrolled the area and used the dogs to carry messages.  Pictured here, T/5 Amos Shaerffer of the US Army reads a message delivered by Rex, the dog, as Rex stands obediently.

War dogs were active on the Italian front. The 33rd QM Co., 1st Squad had a group of war dogs attached to the 6th South African Division, who together with their handlers patrolled the area and used the dogs to carry messages.
Pictured here, T/5 Amos Shaerffer of the US Army reads a message delivered by Rex, the dog, as Rex stands obediently.

Military war dog training centers were founded, organized, staffed and funded at various locations throughout the country (e.g. Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Robinson, Nebraska Camp; Rimini, Montana; San Carlos, California; Gulfport, Mississippi; Fort Washington, Maryland; Beltsville, Maryland; Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Front Royal, Virginia).

Meet Chips, a dog hero who served in Italy. Chips was awarded a purple heart and was recommended for the silver star for attacking a German machine gun nest.  U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, from the collection of The National WWII Museum:

Meet Chips, a dog hero who served in Italy. Chips was awarded a purple heart and was recommended for the silver star for attacking a German machine gun nest.
U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, from the collection of The National WWII Museum:

Meet Andy. At two years, this Doberman Pinscher was commended for outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy on Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands, where he saved the lives of numerous Marines by detecting Japanese snipers in the jungle. His handlers were Marine Privates First Class Robert E. Lansley (left) and John B. Mahoney (right). US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWIIM

Meet Andy. At two years, this Doberman Pinscher was commended for outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy on Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands, where he saved the lives of numerous Marines by detecting Japanese snipers in the jungle. His handlers were Marine Privates First Class Robert E. Lansley (left) and John B. Mahoney (right).
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWIIM

The training time for a working dog and handler varied between 8-12 weeks and produced the following dog jobs for military use and deployment in the Pacific and Europe during WWII:

  1. Fixed Sentry Duty Dogs
  2. Scout Dogs
  3. Wire Laying Dogs
  4. Pack and Pull Dogs
  5. Mine Detection Dogs
  6. Roving Patrol Messenger Dogs
  7. Sled Dogs
Marine Raiders take scouting and messenger dogs to the frontlines on Bougainville, late 1943

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

By late 1944, the number of preferred breeds had been reduced to seven.

  1. German Shepherd: Their keen nose, power, courage, adaptability and trainability made the German shepherd the preeminent choice of all the breeds used during World War II.
  2. Doberman Pinscher: Possessed nervous energy, speed, power, keen nose, tractability and exceptional agility. Second to the German shepherd, the Doberman was the second most desired breed for scouting and sentry duty.
  3. Collie: His traits were speed, alertness, endurance and tractability and trained as a messenger.
  4. Belgian Sheep Dog: Alert and loyal dogs were trained as messengers.
  5. Eskimo: Sled dog could haul double its body weight; and average from twenty to thirty miles daily on long trips. Trained as a Pack and Pull Dog and Wire Laying Dog.
  6. Alaskan Malamute: The oldest and best of the sled breeds, with “snow shoe” type feet, endowed with thick pads and hair to cushion between the toes. Trained as a Pack and Pull Dog and Wire Laying Dog.
  7. Siberian Husky: Another sled dog breed, with feet well adapted for traction over ice and snow; along with speed, endurance and ability to work in a team. Trained as a Pack and Pull Dog and Wire Laying Dog.Tattooed Ears and Service Records: Each World War II War Dog was tattooed on the inside of one ear. Their number was recorded in their service record along with their call name, breed, date of birth and date of enlistment. Notes were kept on the type of training each dog underwent, physical examinations and treatments, unit of assignment, combat missions performed (successes and failures) and injuries or wounds sustained.dog6

    Dogs of War Cemetery on Guam. This dog cemetery contains the graves of dogs that served with the U.S. Marine Corps during the fighting in the Pacific (Signal Corps 284443 Book 1)

    Dogs of War Cemetery on Guam. This dog cemetery contains the graves of dogs that served with the U.S. Marine Corps during the fighting in the Pacific (Signal Corps 284443 Book 1)

World War II – Pacific Theater

William W. Putney – 1944 Marine Lieutenant & Veterinarian commanded the 3rd Marine War Dog Platoon’s beach landing that helped liberate Guam from the Japanese. The Marine Doberman Pincers and their handlers served as sentries, messengers and scouts. Twenty-five of Lieutenant Putney’s war dogs gave their lives in the liberation of Guam and were buried there in a War Dog Cemetery with name markers.

“BRUCE” – Brand Number T178: February 17, 1945 at 0315 hours, the Japanese launched a banzai attack in Northern Luzon Island against “E” Company, 27th Infantry. Bruce viciously attacked three Japanese infantrymen advancing in the darkness with fixed bayonets towards his foxhole containing two wounded American soldiers. Bruce’s saved their lives.

“BUSTER” – Brand Number A684: 1944 – While operating as a Messenger War Dog with “F” Company 155th Infantry Regiment on Morotai Island, Buster was directly responsible for saving the lives of an entire patrol of 17 men. Buster’s determination carried him through heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire on a total of two dangerously long trips delivering instructions for the patrol to hold its position as help was on its way. Bruce was credited for the reinforcements that arrived in time to repel and defeat the entire Japanese force.

The American war dog teams helped defeat the Japanese military forces on Guam, Luzon, Morotai, Okinawa, Guadalcanal and many other pacific islands.

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A Marine Corps war dog rests in the shade of a camouflage shelter half hung over barbed wire entanglement (National Archives 80-G-239419)

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A Marine Corps war dog rests in the shade of a camouflage shelter half hung over barbed wire entanglement (National Archives 80-G-239419)

Marine Devil Dogs and their handlers join infantry units in the track to the fighting front at Guam. Trained as messengers and sentries, the animals are uncanny at spotting snipers and several members of their unit have been commended by the Marine Corps Commandant for outstanding performance in Pacific Action. July 22, 1944. (National Archives)

Marine Devil Dogs and their handlers join infantry units in the track to the fighting front at Guam. Trained as messengers and sentries, the animals are uncanny at spotting snipers and several members of their unit have been commended by the Marine Corps Commandant for outstanding performance in Pacific Action. July 22, 1944. (National Archives)

World War II – European Theater

“CHIPS” – Brand Number 11A, a German Shepherd Sentry Dog assigned to the 1st War Dog Detachment was the most highly decorated War Dog of World War II. Chips was trained at Front Royal, Virginia in 1942 at the age of 2-years.

Chips first served in General Patton’s Africa campaign and also waded ashore with the 3rd Division of Patton’s Seventh Army as it swept into battle in Sicily. Chips was the first canine in military history to be awarded the Silver Star for heroism and Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. His medals were later revoked by the War Department because medals were meant for humans and not War Dogs.

Two attentive war dogs on ship deck.

Two attentive war dogs on ship deck.

As in the case of any war scenario, like the men who fight, dogs and animals bear the brunt: A captured Japanese German Shepherd is worked on by Marine Corps veterinarians

As in the case of any war scenario, like the men who fight, dogs and animals bear the brunt: A captured Japanese German Shepherd is worked on by Marine Corps veterinarians

The Quartermaster Corps issued two military certificates honoring thousands of America’s war dogs deployed during World War II:

  • Certificate of Merit – given to owners of dogs killed in action.
  • Discharge Certificate – given to canines leaving military service.
Something new in Paw-wear: 'Dog-gone good shoes' says Poncho, a Coast Guard dog, as Captain Raymond J. Mauerman (left), chief training officer of the Coast Guard Dog Patrol, puts a set of the new canvas boots on the dog.  The boots are designed to protect the Coast Guard Dog Patrol animals from sustaining cut feet from the oyster shells during the long treks along the nation's beaches while on anti-saboteur beach patrol.  Lieutenant Charles H. Gardner (right) watches the demonstration

Something new in Paw-wear: ‘Dog-gone good shoes’ says Poncho, a Coast Guard dog, as Captain Raymond J. Mauerman (left), chief training officer of the Coast Guard Dog Patrol, puts a set of the new canvas boots on the dog. The boots are designed to protect the Coast Guard Dog Patrol animals from sustaining cut feet from the oyster shells during the long treks along the nation’s beaches while on anti-saboteur beach patrol. Lieutenant Charles H. Gardner (right) watches the demonstration

US Coast Guard Dog Patrol: Armed Coast Guardsmen, ready for action, start out on their vigilant patrols of America's coastline with their keen and loyal canine partners.  On anti-saboteur patrol, dogs are playing a responsible part in guarding our shores from attempts of enemy spies and saboteurs to land on American beaches

US Coast Guard Dog Patrol: Armed Coast Guardsmen, ready for action, start out on their vigilant patrols of America’s coastline with their keen and loyal canine partners. On anti-saboteur patrol, dogs are playing a responsible part in guarding our shores from attempts of enemy spies and saboteurs to land on American beaches

A 1946 photo shows “Bing” (Brian) the WWII “Airborne” hero dog, back in civilian life, receiving Britain’s highest animal service award for “conspicuous gallantry” the “Dicken” medal, (awarded only 54 times in history).

A 1946 photo shows “Bing” (Brian) the WWII “Airborne” hero dog, back in civilian life, receiving Britain’s highest animal service award for “conspicuous gallantry” the “Dicken” medal, (awarded only 54 times in history).

A recruiting poster by Charles B. Falls created in 1918 was one of the first recorded references to the term Devil Dog. and making use of the "Teufel Hunden" nickname. Devil Dog is a motivational nickname for a U.S. Marine. It is said to be based on the apocryphal use of "Teufel Hunden" [sic] by German soldiers to describe Marines fighting in World War I.

A recruiting poster by Charles B. Falls created in 1918 was one of the first recorded references to the term Devil Dog. and making use of the “Teufel Hunden” nickname.
Devil Dog is a motivational nickname for a U.S. Marine. It is said to be based on the apocryphal use of “Teufel Hunden” [sic] by German soldiers to describe Marines fighting in World War I.

On the Web: 

Amazing Animals Chips the Dog World War II Hero

Military.com: Chips: Decorated War Hero

Chips (WWII dog)

Rags (WWII dog)

Lex (WWII dog)

Crash

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