A Special Presentation From Hahn's 50th AP K-9, West Germany
Introduction To The U.S. Marine Corps' War Dogs!
As early as 1935, the Marines were interested in war dogs. They had experienced the enemys' sentry dogs used in Haiti and in the other "Banana Wars" in Central America where dogs staked around guerrilla camps in the jungle sounded the alarm at the approach of the Marines.
Time and again, the Marines found "beans cooking in the pot", tents, clothes, everything except enemy soldiers and their weapons. The Marines learned the value of dogs used as sentries and scouts.
Although prior to Pearl Harbor, the citizens of the U.S. were opposed to getting involved with the war that was going on in Europe and Asia, the Marines thought they would have to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. Since the Japanese were well established in the islands and atolls of the central, south, and west Pacific, the Marines knew they were going to be fighting in tropical climates where the vegetation provided jungle-like coverage.
In such conditions, dogs would be ideal sentries and couriers. It was no surprise later that the Marine Corps had the first large dog unit in the nation's history to see action against the enemy.
Camp Lejeume, NC, 1943, Higgins Boat Training
The Start...November 26, 1942!
The very first Marine War Dog Training School was located at Quantico Bay, Cuba, on January 18, 1943, under the direction of Captain Samuel T. Brick. Fourteen Doberman Pinschers were donated by the Baltimore, Maryland and Canton, Ohio members of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America. An old warehouse served as both headquarters and kennels.
The school's location was short lived, however. A week later, the War Dog Training Center had been established at Camp Knox, site of a former CCC camp at Camp Lejeume, NC. And the Quantico Dobermans were joined there by a Boxer named Fritz, the very first dog sworn and signed into the Marine Corp.
The Doberman Pinscher Club Of America
Dogs For Defense wasn't the only organization recruiting dogs for the armed services, in 1942 the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was formally approached to procure Dobes for the newly formed Marine Corps War Dog Training Facility at Camp LeJeune, New River, North Carolina.
Sydney A. Moss, President of the DPCA, agreed to assist in the procurement of the Dobermans, and Richard C. Webster, DPCA, Baltimore, Maryland, headed the recruiting committee. He divided the country into sixteen procurement areas to facilitate enlistment. DPCA members spent their own time and money to screen applicant dogs for the Marine Corps.
The recruitment was done amongst the Dobe owners in the country who were asked to "volunteer" their dogs. Owners were told that their Dobes would be returned to them if they failed to meet the Marines' standards or at the end of their "enlistment" tour of service.
The Marine dogs were named "Devildogs," a name, that the Marines earned during WWI, fighting against the Germans. However, Dobermans weren't the only breed that the Marines used; but since the DPCA was recruiting for them, the initial emphasis was placed on that breed. There were also Labs, German Shepherds and other breeds, that were obtained from the Army's Quartermaster Corps. Actually towards the end of the war, German Shepherds replaced the Dobermans, as the preferred breed.
MARINE TRAINING SCHOOL
Arriving in Camp LeJeune NC, the new canine recruits were first entered in a forty-page dog service record book. The Marine Corps was the only branch of the service to have such a record for their dogs.
Marine Devldogs lived a military life in the Corp. Roll call and inspection was regular routine, except in combat.
The Dobes were tattooed on the inside of the right ear. Their number was recorded in their service record book, along with their call name, breed, date of birth and date of enlistment. Notes were kept on the type of training the dogs received and when they qualified for each type, such as obedience, scout, messenger, and special work.
The Dobes were given thorough examinations and tested for tractability, corrigibility, shyness, and aggressiveness. Considering the fact that the testers were new at what they were testing, one can assume that the tests were not very rigorous nor very scientific.
The Dobes had to be at least 50 pounds and stand twenty inches high at the withers. Dogs who failed the tests for one reason or another were sent home.
Top Dog: Marine Mascot, 1942 Dog School, Camp LeJeune.
Dobes began their training as Privates. They were promoted on the basis of their length of service. After three months the Dobe became a Private First Class, one year a Corporal, two years a Sergeant, three years a Platoon Sergeant, four years a Gunner Sergeant, and after five years a Master Gunner Sergeant. The Dobes could eventually outrank their handlers.
4th Marines' WW-II Mascot - Soochow, Soochow Was A Jap POW For 3 Years!
The Dobe handlers were just out of boot camp or transfers from other outfits. Prior experience handling dogs was not a requirement.
Each new dog selected as a scout dog was assigned to one handler.
Lansley and Mahoney worked Andy off leash he was one of the few dogs with this ability.
Each messenger dog was assigned to two handlers. They all went through an intensive course of obedience for a period of six weeks.
The dogs were taught to heel, down, crawl, come, or stay on both voice commands and arm and hand signals. During this early training, no Marine was allowed to molest or play with another Marine's dog.
After the basic training when the handlers and the dogs were well indoctrinated, it was possible to have the dogs respond to other handlers in case it was necessary to bring a dog under control in an emergency.
Top Dog, A Marine mascot.
Following basic training, the Marine dogs were divided up for specialized training:
Messenger dogs were taught to carry messages, ammunition or special medical supplies from one handler to the other handler, avoiding all other men. They were subjected to overhead rifle and machine gun fire and explosions of heavy charges of dynamite and TNT to simulate an nearly as possible actual battlefield conditions.
The sentry dogs - were trained to warn (fixed) troops of the approach or the nearness of any other humans. Dogs usually alert to the presence of strangers by barking. Not many sentry dogs were trained by the Marines, as they were combat troops and not generally used in the rears!
The scout dog was train to alert the troops of the enemy, but not to bark and tell the enemy where the troops were. The detection of strangers was signaled by the dogs in different ways but not by barking! Two supposed scientists reported that dogs barked because they wanted to and there was nothing humans could do to change that. This nonsense was reported in articles in many newspapers. The Devildogs' scouts were trained not to bark.
The Dobes were trained to detect the presence of the enemy and if necessary attack, but this latter part was not emphasized. In fact, the detection part of the Dobe's job was so important that the Marines did not want to risk the Dobes by getting them involved in an attack. The Marines stated that they had enough weapons to attack the Japanese with, they did not need dogs to do that.
Dogs For Combat
During World War II, a total of seven Marine War Dog Platoons were trained at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. All of the dog platoons served in the Pacific in the war against the Japanese.
Marine Corps'' 1st War Dog Platoon On Bougainville.
The Pacific Battles
Beginning in 1944 and lasting until the end of the war, army and Marine Dog Platoons conducted thousands of patrols scattered throughout the Pacific Theater of Operations.
The First War Dog Platoon, was commanded by Lt. Clyde A. Henderson, and served with the 2nd Raider Battalion on Bougainville. From this and other units, the First Marine Brigade was formed and invaded Guam along with the Third Marine Division and the 77th Army Division.
More units were added to form the 6th Marine Division which invaded Okinawa. The First War Dog Platoon saw action on Bougainville, Guam, and Okinawa. The 2nd, commanded by Lt. William T. Taylor and 3rd War Dog Platoons, commanded by 1st Lt. William W. Putney, saw action on Guam (Lt. Putney was also the vet for both the 2nd and 3rd platoon), Morotai, Guadalcanal, Aitape, Kwajalein, and Enewetak.
This Was "D" Day And "H" Hour! The Place Was Bougainville
The First Marine Dog Platoon Was Considered A Curiosity Until Bougainville Proved Its Worth!
Private First Class R. Lansley and Andy,
The Marines landed on Bougainville, the largest island in the Solomons, on November 1, 1943. The 24 canine members of the First Marine Dog Platoon was sent ashore just one hour after the first Marines hit the beach, under heavy mortar and rifle fire and were dispatched to various companies according to prearranged plans.
Dogs Going Over The Side Into Landing Craft
The First Marine Dog Platoon consisted of 48 enlisted men working in pairs as handlers for the 21 Dobermans and three Shepherds, plus six enlisted instructors and headquarters personnel. It was under the command of First Lieutenant Clyde A Henderson, a Cleveland high school teacher, who had been a Doberman fancier and amateur trainer for a decade before the war.
Marine And His Wounded Dobe On Guam, 1944.
Instructors and handlers came from the regular ranks; many of them were dog breeders and handlers and all of them were volunteers. Senior enlisted man for the unit was Master Gunnery Sergeant Dan M. Crosno whose 18 years of service included duty around the world. He was on the USS California when she was sunk at Pearl Harbor. The three instructors when the patoon trained at Camp Lejeune were Sgt. James K. Robertson, an experienced man with coon hounds; PFC Leo C. Crismore, a lumber company credit manager before the war, whose avocation long had been that of raising foxhounds and Irish Setters, and Corporal Raymond J. Considine, whose father was a veterinarian in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Platoon was the first to ship out of Camp Lejeune and after a pause on the West Coast for additional training, landed in the South Pacific just a year after the Marine War Dog detachment was officially established.
The Marine Corps 1st War Dog Platoon was the first large contingent of war dogs sent against the enemy.
The Secret Journey Begins...
Leaving Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, the First Marine Dog Platoon had its own troop train for the five day journey across the continent. The 24 dogs rode in their crates in a baggage car. The men had two coaches and two pullmans.
Henderson received verbal orders after boarding the train as to the first destination. It was to be Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, where the dogs were to stay pendng the sailing of a convoy.
During the trip, the dogs were exercised on wood shavings in the baggage car; and when the train made any stops on the week long trip, the dogs were taken off and allow to run a bit.
In the midwest they were greeted by Navajo women, who had gifts of food, for both the men and the war dogs. How they knew about the "secret dog train," no one ever found out.
1st Marine's Dog Platoon Boarding Liberty Ship
The presence of the dogs on the West Coast was supposed to be a military secret, but at San Diego they transferred their lettered dog crates to sideless trucks, which drove in daylight up the busy main highway leading to the camp, some forty miles away. As a result, the where abouts of the dogs was soon known and a common topic of conversation in that area.
Once established at the camp, Henderson set to whipping his platoon into fighting shape before sailing time. This was early in May, 1943.
June 1943, the Marines boarded a Liberty Ship, carrying their own dog crates, Henderson wanted to be sure there would be no accidents. The captain and the executive officer were none too pleased to be carrying dogs, but fortunately, the cargo officer liked dogs, and eased the trip where he could.
The dogs and their crates were placed on the sun deck, while the men were quartered three decks below in the after part of the ship, but they too would eventually joined their dogs top side.
Out Door Head (Posts) In Photo Background
An outdoor "head" was built on the sun deck. It was a four by four foot frame construction with a two inch layer of sand on the bottom. Posts were set in the middle to represent trees or fireplugs. The dogs soon got the idea much to the amusement of all aboard.
Amazingly enough during the trip, only one of the dogs got seasick, although many of the men did.
A twenty-four guard was placed around the dogs to keep curious sailors and troops away from the dogs; and the platoon soon began its own ship routine.
The dogs were groomed and exercised first thing in the morning; and then exercise twice more during the day. They were fed at 5:00 pm and then secured for the night by 7:00 pm.
After the conroy crossed the equator the days got shorter and shorter, with darkness coming early. The dogs schedule was changed alittle and they were bedded down an hour earlier.
Dog Crates On Sundeck Before The Move!
The days were then searingly hot and it was necessary to move the dogs to the ship's highest deck; and place the crates under a canvas canopy giving them some shade from the frying sun and frequent rain storms.
The dogs withstood the heat and the trip quite well, probably better than their handlers, landing at New Caledonia; where they stayed before joining the Second Marine Raider Regiment Provisional for the assault on Bougainville. In Marine parlance, Provisional means that the regiment was organized for this special job.
From New Caledonia, the platoon was taken with a combat team to another island where for days they practiced ship to shore landings. For the next time...it will be for real.
According to Lt. Henderson, "We felt lost when we came out here, everyone looked on us as a curiosity and wondered what we were supposed to do. We weren't too sure ourselves."
Lucky, for the First Platoon, Colonel Shapley's Raider regiment was billeted near where the dog platoon put up camp. One day, the Colonel saw an exhibition of how the dogs delivered messages and immediately asked that the dogs be attached to his Raiders. Eager for a "sponsor" and knowing the Raiders reputation, Lt. Henderson quickly agreed. Neither outfit ever regretted the move. the two groups trained together at the advance base, whick was the jumping off spot for Bougainville, the dogs and their handlers learning the ways of the Raiders and the Raiders learning how to work with the dog teams. Weeks were spent in this integration, weeks which paid off at Bougainville.
First Marine Dog Platoon, Bougainville 1944.
The Devildogs were met with mixed reactions by the fighting Marines. The use of dogs in combat was on trial, The First Marine Dog Platoon was an experimental unit without precedent. Like an experimental airplane, 'bugs' were found. But the use of dogs in combat should no longer be on trail. To prove this only a few of the feats of the dogs need be cited...
For some time the use of trained dogs as sentinels and as messengers had been offically recognized. On Bougainville, the dogs were in the battle lines for the first time and beyond them as "points" for patrols into enemy areas.
By the third day of fighting, D plus 2 day, the Japs began firing at the dogs, Caesar, who carried the first war dog message of the war, was hit twice but more about later.
On D plus 7 days, as the Raiders pushed on into the jungle, Jack, a German Shepherd messager dog, and one of his handlers were hit during a sharp fire fight. Despite receiving a deep gash across his back, Jack reached his other handler with a message that the Nips had struck and stretcher bearers were needed. With the phone lines cut, Jack was the only means of communications the advance party had that day.
There was one other thing that quickly changed the Marines' view of the dogs to a very positive one.
Dobe And His Two Handlers, Bougainville 1943
In landing and fighting on islands quite often the Marines were stopped for a time on the beaches. It was a common tactic for the Japanese to infiltrate the beach positions at night time and attempt to kill the Marines.
To prevent this the Marines were always on the alert at night. One night a Marine battalion fired 3,800 rounds, killing a water buffalo and wounding one of their own Marines. But no enemy were known to be in the area.
The next night the Devildogs were called in. It was a quiet night and the Marines got some sleep.
Because of the Dobes keen sense of smell and hearing, they could detect the presence of men several hundred yards away. In one instance, the dogs detected the presence of Jap troops one half mile away.
The Dobes' handlers always had help digging their foxholes, the other Marines always wanted the handler and their dogs nearby.
No unit protected by one of the dogs was ever ambushed by the Japanese or was there ever a case of Japanese infiltration.
First Aid For A Devildog!
During the battles, the dogs led infantry points on advances, explored caves, pill boxes, dugouts, and scouted fortified positions. They did sentry duty with military police at crossroads day and night. They occupied foxholes in forward outposts at night.
They and their handlers were officially credited with leading three hundred and fifty patrols during the mop up phases of the battles. The handlers accounted for over three hundred enemy slain. Only one handler was killed on patrol.
War Dog Cemetery, Guam 1944. USMC Photo
During the Guam campaign fourteen dogs were killed in action and ten more died from exhaustion, tropical maladies, heat stroke, accidents, and anemia from hookworm. All were burried there on Guam, at what was to become the first War Dog Memorial years later.
Marine Devildogs Scored...A+!
The fighting on Morotai in the Netherlands East Indies Illus- trates the manner in which scout dogs were used to maximum benefit, There the enemy offered at first but slight resistance retreating into the mountainous jungles of the interior and then sallying forth in small groups to harass the Americans.
In patrol operations designed to uncover Japanese bivouac areas, supply dumps, and lines of communications, the 26th War Dog Platoon proved invaluable.
During the period September 17th to November 10th, 1944, the dogs made more than one hundred patrols with infantry troops ranging from a patrol of five men to a rifle company of two hundred or more.
The Commander of the 155th Infantry Regiment reported that the dogs never failed to alert at less than 75 yards and not a single casualty was suffered while a scout dog was being employed.
The ability of the dogs to pick up enemy bivouacs, patrols, positions, troop reconnaissance, etc, long before our patrol reached them frequently enabled our troops to achieve com- plete surprise and inflict heavy casualties on the Japanese.
Devil Dog, Jeep And Ernie Pyle See Eye-To-Eye On Pacific War!
Outstanding War Dogs!
Dick, a German Shepherd scout dog donated by Edward Zan of New York City, was cited for working with a Marine Corps patrol in the Pacific Area. This dog not only discovered a camouflaged Japanese bivouac but unerringly alerted to the only occupied hut of five, permitting a surprise attack which resulted in annihilation of the enemy with a single Marine casualty.
Andy Led A Raider Company Inland On The First Day Of Bougainville.
The most outstanding incident of the First Marine Dog Platoon's record on Bougainville came on November 14, with Andy (a Dobe) and his handlers as the principals. Andy was the Doberman who had led the Raiders inland on the first day: he was popularly referred to as "Gentleman Jim" because of his aristocratic demeanor and aloofness with the other dogs.
A Marine force up front ran into stiff Jap resistance that day of the action. Andy's two handlers, Privates Robert E. Lansley and John B. Mahoney, volunteered to take their Dobermans and seek out the enemy strong points.
Andy With One Of His Handlers, Private John B. Mahoney, Bougainville.
They had complete faith in Andy's ability to spot whatever was out there. The three moved beyond the lines into the heavy foliage. Andy was about 25 yards out front, when he stopped short; and looked to the left and right, the way he always alerted. The two soldiers crept up along a little trail behind Andy and saw two machine gun nests, one of each side of the trail. The two handlers started shooting, Lansley threw two grenades and when it was all over, eight Japs were dead. The wiping out of the machine gun nests by Andy and the two handlers permitted that entire sector of the line to move forward.
Scout Dog On Jap's Trail.
The third MWD of admirable exploits was Caesar, a large German Shepherd whose heart was as big as his stature.
Caesar's theater of operation was the Pacific; it was there his story of valor unfolded. After his initial training as a messenger, Caesar was transferred to Camp LeJeune, a US Marine training camp in North Carolina. Messenger dogs were assigned two handlers and Caesar was no exception. Privates First Class John Kleeman and Rufus Mayo were Caesar's handlers.
Caesar With Handler Kleeman
Two people were required, as one would send the dog to find the other, thereby messages could be conveyed.
Bougainville: Mayo and Caesar led a Marine company on a mission to prevent the enemy from penetrating the command post area. Radio communications were of no use in the thick jungle; Caesar was the only form of communication. Nine times the dog was dispatched with vital information back-and-forth between the two handlers, always under heavy fire.
On the second day of the mission, the dog team was sleeping when Caesar heard a sound which woke him. Mayo reacted to the movement of his dog in time to see a hand grenade drop at their feet. The soldier was able to throw the device back in the direction it came from, where it exploded. The next morning eight Japanese bodies were discovered where Mayo had hurled the grenade.
The third day of this encounter was nearly the last day of Caesar's life. The enemy tried again to sneak in on the MWD team position. Mayo didn't realize it, but Caesar did. Although he wasn't trained to attack, the dog leaped at the Japanese soldiers in defense of Mayo. The handler called the dog back to his position. As the dog returned, he was shot twice.
One shot lodged deep behind his left shoulder after entering the left hind leg. The bullet was close to Caesar's heart and Lt. Commander Steven L. Steigler, the Raider Regimental surgeon, decided it would be to risky to try to remove it. Caesar carried that chunk of lead for the rest of his life.
Note: Caesar was credited with carrying the first war dog message of the war in actual combat. He was one of four dogs injured on Bougainville.
Battle Weary Marine & Shepherd, With WW II Type Muzzle
Brand Number A684: While operating an a messenger dog with "F" Company 155th Infantry Regiment on Morotai Island, Buster was directly responsible for saving the lives of an entire patrol consisting of seventeen men.
His determined effort carried him through heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire on a total of two trips, bringing instructions for the patrol to hold its position at all costs. He was thus responsible for reinforcements which accounted for the destruction of an entire enemy force.
Brand Number T178: During a banzai attack occurring in Northern Luzon at 0315 hours on February 17th, 1945 against "E" Company 27th Infantry. Bruce without command voluntarily attacked three Japanese infantrymen advancing with fixed bayonets towards a foxhole containing two wounded American soldiers. By his fearless action the lives of the two wounded men were saved; by discouraging the advance of these particular Japanese, more casualties were averted.
Jap Cave Found!
Brand Number H24: On 12 and 13 April 1945 while on a two day-patrol with Company F, 123rd Infantry, Blackie, handled by Corporal Technician Kido, was used alternately on that point.
The patrol successfully completed its mission without detection by the enemy, locating an area where 500 Japanese were bivouacked. As patrol was on reconnaissance, all contact with the enemy was avoided.
More than 1,000 dogs had trained as Marine Devil Dogs during World War II. Rolo, one of the first to join the Devil Dogs, was the first Marine dog to be killed in action. 29 war dogs were listed as killed in action, 25 of those deaths occurred on the island of Guam. Today, the U.S. Marine Corp maintains a War Memorial (created by former 1st Lt. William W. Putney, who was the veterinarian for the dogs on Guam; and funded by public donation), on Guam, for those 25 War Dogs that served and died there during WW II.
NEXT: WW II PTO - ARMY QMC DOGS