In part one of the series, we looked at the use of military dogs in World War 1. We learned that they were used to carry messages, helped the wounded and pulled carts loaded with guns and ammo. But, the use of our military four legged partners increased when World War 2 began. In January 1942, the American Kennel Club and Dogs for Defense asked the population to donate working dogs to the U.S Army Quartermaster Corps. This was the beginning of the U.S military dog program. Dog training centers were set up at Fort Carson Colorado, Fort Riley Kansas, Fort Robinson Nebraska, Remini Montana, San Carlos California, Gulfport Mississippi, Fort Washington Maryland, Beltsville Maryland, Fort Belvoir Virginia and Fort Royal Virginia. The training took from 8 to 12 weeks in these centers. They were trained for a variety of jobs on the battlefield. Sentry, wire laying, mine sniffing , sled dogs, roving messenger dogs and pack and pull dogs are a few of the jobs that these 4 legged troopers were trained to perform. After training, they were deployed to the Pacific and European fronts. By 1944, there were only a few breeds that were sought for use in the war. The German Shepard is known for their keen nose, power and adaptability. They became the most sought ofter breed for a working military dog. The second most sought after dog was the Doberman Pinscher. The doberman had a keen nose, speed and agility. They were used as sentry dogs. The Collie possesses speed, endurance and alertness. These dogs were trained as messenger dogs. Another breed that was used during World War 1 was the Alaskan Malamute. The Malamute is the oldest of the sled dog breeds. They have “snowshoe” feet with thick pads and hair to protect them from the ice and snow. These dogs were trained as pack, pull and wire laying dogs. The Belgian Sheep Dog is a breed that is loyal and alert. They were excellent messenger dogs. Also trained for pack and pull dogs was the Siberian Husky. The Husky is a breed that displayed speed, endurance and the ability to work as a team. Each dog used during the war was tatooed on the inside of the ear. Their number was recorded in their service record along with their call name, date of birth, breed and date of enlistment. Notes were kept in their records of the training they received, medical exams and treatments, units they were assigned to, combat missions performed and injuries that they sustained. The Quartermaster issued two certificates to canines during World War 2. The first was a Certificate of Merit. This was awarded to owners of dogs who were killed in action. The second was a Certificate of Discharge given when the dogs left the service.
Chips was perhaps the most notable war dog of World War 2. He was a shepherd that was donated by Edward Wren of Pleasantville NY. He was one of the first dogs trained and one of the first to be shipped overseas. He was a sentry dog trained in Front Royal Virginia. Chips served in General Patton’s Africa campaign and also waded ashore with the 3rd Division as it went into battle in Sicily. Although he was trained as a sentry dog, it was reported by the members of Company I, 30th Infantry Regiment that Chips broke away from his trainer and attacked a pillbox with a machine gun crew in Sicily. He seized one man and forced the entire crew to surrender. He was also credited by the units he served with to have been directly responsible for the capture of many enemy by alerting to their presence. In recognition of his service, Chips was awarded the Silver Star and a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the field. Sadly, they were later revoked by the War Department stating that medals were for people, not for dogs. In 1993, Disney produced a movie about him called, “Chips, the War Dog”
In 1943, Bruce Wellington was issued a Doberman. When, he went to the kennels, another Marine was petting the dog assigned to him. The Marine asked if he wanted to switch dogs. Bruce agreed and that is how Bruce and Little Prince were joined into a team. Little Prince was a sheperd mix, while most of the dog teams in the Marines were Doberman Pinschers. Prince and Bruce trained together. Bruce teaching Prince to be a messenger dog. He was trained to track his handlers ( Tony Lubbers also worked with Prince. Messenger dogs were taught to run from one trainer to another with their messages) Prince also carried ammunition and supplies. Wellington said that Prince was easy to train, smart and one of the best messenger dogs in the USMC. Wellington remembered how the dogs had saved many Marines by alerting to the presence of Japanese. Sometimes, they would alert 20 to 30 minutes before the Japanese came into view. When the leadership believed in the dogs, it always saved Marines. Wellington brought Prince home with him after the war was over. Prince was 6 when Wellington got him to train, served 3 years in the war and returned to be part of Wellington’s family until he died in 1950. Doctor William Putney D.V.M, U.S.M.C was Prince’s veterinarian through the war and Wellington asked Putney to continue to take care of “his best buddy” after the war. Wellington never asked where Prince was buried because he “just didn’t want to know”. The Japanese noticed how the dogs helped the Americans in the war and Japanese snipers started to target the dogs. There were 25 dogs killed in action in World War 2 along with 15 handlers. They fought in the most intense battles of the war including, Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The handlers and their canines did as they were trained to do. Handlers relied on the dogs and trusted their instincts.
Smoky was an unofficial war dog. She was a tiny Yorkshire Terrier. She only weighed 4 pounds and was only 7 inches tall. She was found in an abandon fox hole in New Guinea jungle. Smoky’s owner was Corporal William Wynne. She was backpacked through the war for two years. According to Wynne, she served with the 5th Air Force Photo Recon Squadron. She spent long hours dangling in the pack near machine guns. Smoky was credited with 12 combat missions. She survived 150 air raids in New Guinea and even jumped from a 30 foot tower wearing a special parachute. Wynne credited Smoky with saving his life on a transport ship. She alerted him to incoming fire. As the ship deck was vibrating and booming, she lead him safely around the deck while ducking incoming fire. Wynne taught her to do tricks which ended up helping engineers in Lingayen Gulf. The engineers needed to run a telegraph wire through a 70 foot pipe under the run way they were constructing. Wynne tied a small rope attached to the wire. He went to the other side of the runway and called her. She crawled through the pipe running the wire for the engineers. What would have taken three days and the moving of numerous aircraft, Smoky completed in minutes. In July of 1944, she became the first therapy dog at the 233rd Station Hospital. She would follow the nurses as they made their rounds taking care of the wounded. She passed away at the age of 14. A memorial was erected for her in Eastlake Doggie Park.
After the War
As William Putney returned him after the war, he discovered that the military had decided to destroy the dogs that had served so faithfully. He argued that the dogs were donated by owners and that the military had promised to return them after their service. The higher ups argued that these dogs were now more like “junk yard dogs” who knew nothing but killing. Putney lobbied for the right to “detrain” the dogs so they could be returned to their owners. His program was extremely successful. Out of 549 dogs that returned from the war, only 4 could not be returned to civilian life. Putney was so moved by the handlers and their war dogs, that he wrote a book “Always Faithful, The Marine Dogs of World War II” After World War II, the pack and sled dogs as well as the mine sniffing dogs were no longer needed for military use. However, the silent scout and sentry dogs were of great value. The military decided that it was not realistic to ask citizens to donate dogs for the military”s use. They decided that for their use, the German Shepard was the best suited dog for use in the military. In 1948, dog training was transferred to the jurisdiction or the Army Field Forces. The dog receiving and processing center was moved to Fort Riley Kansas, and then eventually to Fort Carson Colorado in 1952. Training was no under the responsibility of the Military Police Corps. As history proceeds, 1,500 dogs will be used in the Korean War and 4,000 in the Vietnam conflict and deployed to the Gulf. Many other animals were and are used by the military. One of those was the horse. In other posts, we will learn more about how dogs were used in Korea, Vietnam and currently, as well as, other animals that were used in the military.