A Special Presentation From Hahn's 50th AP K-9, West Germany



Airedale Private Winston, Courtesy Imperial War Museum

For Our British Allies, The War Started

September 3, 1939

On September 1st, 1939, the troops of Nazi Germany crossed the Polish border...two days later, the British and the French governments declared war on Germany, in accordance of the alliance they both had formed with the Polish Government, to come to Poland's assistance. Once again, warfare in Europe was on!

At first, when England entered the war, it looked as though everything was going to be mechanized. Offensives were to move much faster than they did the first time during the Great War; and according to some allied experts, the place for dogs was the doghouse, along with other out-of-date creatures, that they would be useless in modern blitzkrieg tactics.

The results was that, within the first two months of food ration- ing in England, well over 200,000 dog owners sent their pets to death. Then came the reports that Germany had an army of 200,000 trained dogs. The Berlin dog paper Die Hunderwelt told of a grand recruiting rally held in that country, that added another 15,993 Airedales, Boxers, Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers. And of their canine forces, Germany was sending 25,000 dogs to Japan.

Even when the British military authorities heard about it, they weren't convinced. Once more, Colonel E. H. Richardson went to bat, as he had done in World War I. Another dog advocate, a Major James W. Baldwin took up the torch too, and on their own, these men trained several dogs for sentry work.

Baldwin who was in charge of an important air field, knew that a large amount of manpower was needed to guard England's fields. He also knew how easily, a clever saboteur could elude or overpower the sentries.

When their dogs were ready, Richardson and Major Baldwin went back to the government and asked that they be allowed to demonstrate how one dog could do the work of at least six men...and do it better.

The government was intrique, so permission was granted and preparations were made. Needless to say, the demonstration proved Richardson and Major Baldwin's point; and soon after- wards, English dogs would begin marching to war, instead of to the gas chamber.

I Have My Helmet And
Gas Mask ...I'M READY!!!

1939...British War Dogs!

Britain in 1939, had no official dog program nor training school; but they did have a small number (abt 600) of war dogs serving unofficially within a few units of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), who first saw service in Poland and Belgium; as well as in the Army of the Nile in North Africa.

The French Army though at the outbreak of hostilities, in 1939, had immediately opened recruiting stations to build up its small force of war dogs. They even gave the British one of their most famous messenger dogs, Mark, an Alsatian.

When the British and French forces were pushed back to the Channel, by the Germans in their drive to the coast, Mark was one of the two hundred Belgian and French dogs, that were evacuated and taken safely back to England at Dunkirk (May 1940).

British SAS Handler And K-9!

Mean while, in North Africa and in the Army's Far East Asia commands, British war dogs were being used as sentries, messengers and later on in 1943, as Mine Dogs - to detect (non-metallic plastic or other material) German land mines... the British were the first to use dogs somewhat successfully in this capacity.

In North Africa, the Germans had introduced a non metallic mine, which baffled the electronic mine detectors, which until then had sucessfully found the buried explosives; and enabled safe paths to be marked through mine fields. The new mines were slowing the British and allied advances.

As a counter measure, the English started to trained mine detecting dogs; alert, keen nosed dogs were taught to point an anti tank or anti personnel mine by sitting down from one to four paces in front of it. In training they were give an slight electrical shock when they walked into a trap, demonstrating to them, that there were objects in the ground, that would hurt them and that they must shum them!

The Royal Engineers were the first to try the dogs in North Africa; they found that the dogs, at best, located only 51% of the mines planted and that they suffered many casualties. The dogs proved to be to seriously distracted by the dead men and debris of a battlefield to function well. Also, the weather was a big factor, as essentially the dogs were not trained to locate buried explosives but to find soil turned over by humans while planting the mines; and sand storms blew that away.

The dogs ability improved, once they were trained under battle field conditions, not 100% as some had hoped but enough to make a different. It wasn't until after the 2nd World War, that it was realized, that dogs could detect the chemicals present in the explosives. Decades later this unique sensory capability would finally be discovered and exploited.

British Handler And German Shepherd,
With A Few Of His Friends!

The First War Dog Training School

Great Britain, however, didn't officially begin its army war dog program for some two years after the invasion of Poland, when in the spring of 1942, the Army commandeered the Greyhound Racing Kennels at Potter's Bar (near London) and set up the British Army's first War Dog School.

Several other British war dog schools were opened up shortly afterwards : one was the Ministry of Aircraft Production, who operated a school in Gloucestershire; and later during the war, schools were set up in the Far East Theatre, in Burma; and the Middle East in Egypt.

As previously mentioned, the threat of bombings and food rationing had led to thousands of dogs and cats in the London area alone being destroyed in the first few weeks of the war.

One More For The War Effort

Therefore, there was a dearth of healthy dogs and the public was asked to lend their pets to the war effort for the duration. 10,000 were offered but of this number only 3,500 were found acceptable; for duty as guard dogs protecting: ammo dumps, airfields, the coast and prisoner-of-war camps.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the National Canine Defence League and the Animal Protection Society of Scotland and Northern Ireland cooperated in the recruiting of dogs. Inspectors and representatives of these societies arranged for preliminary exams and registration before the dogs were shipped to the Army training center.

The British used Alsatians (as german shepherds were then called, because of anti german feelings), Airedales, Boxers, Kerry Blues, so called working Collies (farm collies, used for messenger dogs only), Bull Terriers, Labradors, and Curly Coated Retrievers.

Mrs. E. H. Richardson Doing Her Bit

At the dog school, forty uniformed members of the Women Auxiliary Territorial Services, mostly former kennel maids, cared for the dogs and exercise them; although the actual training, was by men (remember now, this was back in the forties).

Also in the spring of 1942, the Brtish started using, what they called para pups, with their first airborne army and SAS units; trained to lead soldiers behind enemy lines, sniff them out and give silent warning and direction to the patrol.

One in particular was Rob, a mongrel, black and white with a piratical patch over one eye, who worked with the SAS. Rob would be parachuted in and would have to wait for his owner to find him and remove the parachute; Rob while working never failed to guard (alert) the SAS party for the many months they were behind enemy lines in both North Africa and later in Italy. Rob made a total of 12 jumps into enemy territory!

By May 1, 1944, some 7,000 dogs had graduated from the training school, now under the command of Captain John B. Garle. Also a large number of other dogs were trained in the Middle East, where they were attached to RAF units; and in Burma, with the British, Indian and Gurkha forces.

The RAF used a large number of these four-footed sentries for guarding the hundreds of scattered camouflaged airfields. Their effectiveness and need for these dogs was revealed by the fact, that as late as May 6, 1944, the British War Office issued another appeal for a large number of canine recruits to guard airfields and 'secret' military installations.

Two British Tommys And Friends
Guarding An B-17 In England.

The First...

Bobbie, an Alsatian, was the first British war dog to be killed in action. German machine gun bullets ripped into his body, while he was running a message in a front line sector in France, March, 1940. When night came, a sergeant major and three men went out and brought his body back to their lines. Bobbie was burried with full military honors.

Bob, a white dog of no particular breed, was the first to win the Dickin Gallantry medal given by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals and the Allied Forces Mascot Club in London. He earned these awards on a cold and rainy night in North Africa.

Attached to the Queen's Own Royal West Kents, an infantry outfit, he was sent out with a patrol, camouflaged with paint, like the others Tommies. Suddenly, he froze and nothing would budge him, although the men could not see any indication of trouble. But a few seconds later, a movement betrayed the presence of the enemy. The patrol then withdrew and skirted around this spot, discovering a German unit, that had moved up unexpectedly. If the patrol had advanced a few yards further, the men might have been killed or captured.

A NCO wrote to the Allied Forces Mascot Club, that Bob "did magnificent work throughout the whole North African campaign; running messages and doing patrol work. Many were saved by his timely warnings." Bob then participated in the Sicilian and Italian invasions.

Britain...Not Just Dogs!

Pigeons From The British Signal Corp

The British (and allies) also used everything from carrier pigeons for messengers, horses and mules for hauling supplies, as well as camels and elephants in the far east commands.


Search & Rescue!

Perhaps the most famous use of dogs, especially during wartime or a disaster, is that of finding the trapped casualties, many dogs, both trained and untrained serve in this role on the homefront. All were awarded the medal of the Blue Cross, the animal Red Cross or the Dickin Medal.

There was Fluff, her home was destroyed in a bombing, but she managed to scratch her way out, summoned assistance by her barking and pawing at the ruims, and then stood by until her family was dug out. She was a little dog with a lion's heart.

Peggy, a five year old Wire Fox Terrier, rescued a mother and child, when their home was wrecked. Peggy scratched at the debris until rescuers came and saved the two members of her family.

Chum, a twelve year old Airedale, saved a woman who was trapped in the ruins of her home. Chum didn't know the victim, but he cleared a passage allowing enough fresh air to reach her, to keep her from being gassed to death by fumes from a damaged main.

Britain's Dickin Medal
...to honor those who served!

The animals who have won this award, and whose gallantry has been honoured, must stand as representative of the many through history, equally deserving, whose value and service to man have passed unmentioned.

The Dickin Medal, instituted by Mrs Maria Dickin, founder of the People's Royal Dispensary for Sick Animals, was popularly referred to as "the animals VC". It was awarded to any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty associated with, or under the control of, any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during World War II and its aftermath.

The award was made only upon official recommendation and was exclusive to the animal kingdom.

The reverse of the medal, which is in bronze, bears the initials "PDSA" at the top, the words "For Gallantry" in the centre and the words "We Also Serve" below, all within a wreath of laurel. The reverse is blank for inscribing with details of the recipient. The medal ribbon is green, dark brown and pale blue, representing water, earth and air to symbolise the naval, military, civil defence and air forces.

Of the 53 Dickin Medals awarded, 18 were presented to dogs, 3 to horses, 1 to a cat, and 31 to pigeons.

Two Very Special Dogs!

The remarkable deeds of courage, fidelity and endurance performed by dogs in war and in peace would fill volumes. During World War II eighteen were nominated to receive the award of the Dickin Medal in recognition of their outstanding service and we have selected two for special mention and listed the others who received this award.

Judy was a pure bred English Pointer born in Shanghai in 1936 and adopted as a mascot by the Royal Navy, serving in several gunboats. She was torpedoed, captured by the Japanese and spent two years as their prisoner of war under the most horrifying conditions in Sumatra where prisoners were used as slave labour to lay 3,000 miles of railway track.

During that time she distinguished herself by her devotion to Leading Aircraftsman Frank Williams to whom she attached herself; by her hatred of the Japanese guards who several times tried to shoot her, and by threatening and distracting them on many occasions when they began to beat their prisoners.

She was finally liberated, together with her fellow prisoners, in 1945. On February 17th, 1950 Judy was put to sleep due to a mammary infection that was causing her a great deal of pain.

A book was later written about her magnificent life called "Judy VC" by E. Varley.

Her citation reads:

"For magnificent courage and endurance in Japanese prison camps, thus helping to maintain morale among her fellow prisoners and for saving many lives by her intelligence and watchfulness".

Pet Gas Shelter, England, 1938.

Beauty was a wire-haired terrier belonging to Mr "Bill" Barnet, a PDSA Veterinary Officer who led one of the Animal Rescue Squads during the bombing of London in the early years of World War II.

Beauty used to accompany her master through the bomb damage as he searched for trapped pets in the wreckage and one night in 1940, while the Squad was digging in some debris, she began to dig at a spot on her own.

After some minutes of hard digging they found a cat, still alive, beneath a damaged table.

Thus Beauty pioneered the use of dogs in the valuable work of animal rescue and as a result of her efforts sixty three animals that might otherwise have died were rescued alive from the bomb ruins.

The PDSA presented Beauty with the Pioneer Medal (normally awarded only to humans), and she received a silver mounted collar with a medal inscribed "For Services Rendered" from the Deputy Mayor of Hendon. This was presented by the Mayor of Salford where she was then living with her master who had been transferred there. In addition she was also given "the freedom of Holland Park and all the trees therein".

But her greatest reward came in January 1945 when Admiral Sir Edward Evans presented her with the PDSA Dickin Medal for her gallantry.

Her citation reads:

"For being the pioneer dog in locating buried air raid victims while serving with the PDSA Rescue Squad".

Other British Recipients!

Jet - Dog - MAP. Serving with CD.

Date of award - 12th January 1945. "For being responsible for the rescue of persons trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with the Civil Defence Service of London".

Irma - Dog - MAP. Serving with CD.

Date of award - 12th January 1945. "For being responsible for the rescue of persons trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with the Civil Defence Service of London".

Rob - War Dog - No. 471/322. Special Air Service.

Date of award - 22nd January 1945. "Took part in landings during North African Campaign with an Infantry unit and later served with a Special Air Unit in Italy as patrol and guard on small detachments lying up in enemy territory. His presence with these parties saved many of them from discovery and destruction. Rob made over 20 parachute descents". Rob passed away January 18th , 1952 and is buried on the Bayne family farm.

Thorn - Dog - MAP. Serving with CD.

Date of award - 2nd March 1945. "For locating air raid casualties, in spite of thick smoke in burning buildings".

L/Cpl Maldoon & Khan

Rifleman Khan - Dog - 147. 6th Batt. Cameronians (SR).

Date of award - 27th March 1945. "For rescuing L/Cpl Muldoon from drowning under heavy shell fire at the assault of Walcheren, November 1944, while serving with the 6th Cameronians. (SR)".

Rex - Dog - MAP. Civil Defence Rescue Dog.

Date of award - April 1945. "For outstanding good work in the location of casualties in burning buildings. Undaunted by smouldering debris, thick smoke, intense heat and jets of water from fire hoses, this dog displayed uncanny intelligence and outstanding determination in his efforts to follow up any scent which led him to a trapped casualty".

Sheila With Shepherd,
John Dagg, 1945.

Sheila - Sheep Dog -

Date of award - 2nd July 1945. Scotland, "For assisting in the rescue of four American Airmen, from the 303rd BG, lost on the Cheviots in a blizzard after an aircrash in December, 1944". The collie was the first civilian dog to be awarded the medal.

Rip - Dog - Mongrel -

A stray picked up by CD Squad at Poplar, London, E 14. "For locating many air raid victims buried by rubble during the blitz of 1940".

Peter - Collie Dog -

Date of award - November, 1945. "For locating victims trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with the MAP attached to Civil Defence, London".

Punch and Judy - Boxer dog and bitch.

Date of awards - November 1946. "These dogs saved the lives of two British Officers in Israel by attacking an armed terrorist who was stealing upon them unawares and thus warning them of their danger, Punch sustained 4 bullet wounds and Judy a long graze down her back".

Ricky - Welsh Sheepdog.

Date of award - 29th March 1947. "This dog was engaged in clearing the verges of the canal bank at Nederdeent, Holland. He found all the mines but during the operation one of them exploded. Ricky was wounded in the head but remained calm and kept at work. Had he become excited he would have endangered the rest of the section working nearby".

Brian - Alsatian Dog -

Date of award - 29th March 1947. "This patrol dog was attached to a Parachute Battalion of the 13th Batt. Airborne Division. He landed in Normandy with them and, having done the requisite number of jumps, became a fully qualified "Paratrooper'."

Antis - Alsatian Dog -

Date of award - 28th January 1949. "Owned by a Czech airman, this dog served with him in the French Air Force and RAF from 1940 to 1945, both in North Africa and England. Returning to Czechoslovakia after the war, he substantially helped his master to escape across the frontier when, after the death of Jan Masaryk, he had to fly from the Communists". Antis" exploits earned him the distinction of being the first foreign dog to be awarded the Dickin Medal.

Tich - Egyptian Mongrel Bitch -

Date of award - 1st July 1949. "For loyalty, courage and devotion to duty under hazardous conditions of war from 1941 to 1945, while serving with the 1st King's Rifle Corps in North Africa and Italy".

Gander Shown With Members Of
The Royal Rifles of Canada

Gander - Newfoundland -

Date of award - 15th August 2000. Gander aka Pal, is the first dog in fifty-five years to be awarded the Dickin Medal, and the only dog, from Canada to receive the award. The citation read: "For saving the lives of Canadian infantrymen during the Battle of Lye Mun on Hong Kong Island in December 1941. On 3 documented occasions (Pal aka) Gander, the Newfoundland mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada, engaged the enemy as his regiment joined the Winnipeg Grenadiers, members of Battalion Headquarters 'C' Force and other Commonwealth troops in their courageous defence of the Island. Twice Gander's attacks halted the enemy's advance and protected groups of wounded soldiers. In a final act of bravery the war dog was killed in action gathering a grenade. Without Gander'as intervention many more lives would have been lost in the assault."

Gander with Rifleman Fred Kelly

Gander was originally owned by the Hayden family, who at the time lived near Gander Air Field, Newfoundland, and was called Pal, before he was donated to The Royal Rifles of Canada as a mascot.

Dogs For Combat...
British "Lend Leash!"

By early 1944, when the United States military went on the offensive in the Pacific and later on in the European Theaters, the emphasis shifted to the QMC supplying dogs for combat, rather than just sentry duty!

The Americans needed to train dogs for tactical (combat) purposes, and they found it necessary to seek assistance in developing doctrine from England's Whitehall, since there were no dog trainers in their country qualified to develop such training methods.

The British War Department sent over the Director of their War Dog Training School, Captain John B. Garle, along with two NCO handlers and four dogs, an sort of "lend leash basis."

Captain Garle arrived in the US on February 1, 1943, he then proceeded with his K-9 team to the Quartermaster Corps War Dog Reception and Training Center at Beltsville, Maryland, where they demostrated their messenger and scout dogs to officers interested.

So successful were these K-9 demostrations that Capt. Garle and his canine team was sent on a tour of all the War Dog Training Centers in the United States to indoctrinate the US trainers in his methods


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