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



The British Army's
Royal Army Veterinary Corps

In 1945, the mistake of disbanding the War Dog program made at the close of the Kaiser's War was not repeated, but the days were numbered for the Army's Dog Training School at Potters Bar.

The war was over, and England was attempting to return to the normacy of peacetime, and the Potters Bar Greyhound Racing Association wasn't any exception, they wanted to resume their greyhound racing season.

Actually, early in 1945, the RAVC, who was now charged with the overall management of all Army animal resources, needed two homes quickly, one for the Dog Training School, and one other for their horses.

The RAVC (Horse) Depot, which had relocated during the war, from Woolwich to Doncaster Racecourse as a wartime measure, needed a new home as well ...as their Jockey Club also wanted to resume (horse) racing.

April 1945, a suitable site was found in Belgium, at the Zellick Racecourse. The Dog Training School joined the 21st Army Group, commanded by Lt. Col. R.W. Stalker ADVRS, who lost no time in making the school a part of the RAVC.

In November 1945, Major D.G. Young was appointed the first RAVC commanding officer of the Dog School; and the school, with 150 soldiers, 50 members of the ATS, 200 dogs, and 14 horses moved to Sennelager, in the British occupied zone, of Germany.

Melton Mowbray

Then in 1946 the RAVC, who was then assigned the task of managing the British Army's dog resources (training), moved out of Doncaster, and the Army Dog Training School was returned from Germany, to England's last Remount Depot at Melton Mowbray, and it became the Corps' Base, embracing all facets of its responsibility:

The Army Dog Training School
The Army School of Equitation
The Army School of Farriery
The RAVC Remount Depot
The RAVC Veterinary Hospital

Melton Mowbray's Remount Depot was used during WW-II as an equine assembly area; it was comprised of about 300 acres of rolling pasture, stables, that were adapted into kennels, and also some veterinary support facilities.

It was fortunate that the RAVC had developed war-time skills in the training and deployment of dogs, since the post war involvement in equines was to decline rapidly once the assets acquired for war service had themselves been "demobilised".

A Short History Of
The RAVC's Oversea Dog Schools

After 1945, RAVC's personnel from the Melton Mowbray Dog Training School founded other schools over the years in Palestine, Gibraltar, Malaya, Kenya, Singapore, Hong Kong and Cyprus acting as specialist advisers to the British armed forces against the terrorists.

The Defence Animal Support Unit RAVC
Sennelager, Germany

The Sennelager Unit, established in November 1945, had a major influence in the provision of Army dogs for many years, procuring and training dogs for deployment in the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and also shipping many to RAVC units around the world.

Sennelager 1979, A Hungry Tracker and Friend.

Today, it continues to provide technical support for all animals on the continent, including a current commitment in Bosnia and Kosovo, and still occupies the same premises, that it moved into back in 1945.

The Defence Animal Support Unit RAVC
Medicina Lines, Seria

Today's Jungle Warfare Wing has it's origins in the Far East Training Centre set up in Malaya in 1948 at PULADA.

Renamed The Jungle Warfare School in 1959, it's primary aim was to train RA instructors for battalions engaged in operations during the Malayan Emergency, as well as Tracker Dogs.

In 1963 this emphasis changed to preparation for units serving in the Borneo Confrontation. The Jungle Warfare School moved to Singapore in 1975, when PULADA was handed over to the Malaysian Army, although the UK continued to use the facilities.

In 1975, when the UK government decided to withdraw British troops from Singapore, the Jungle Warfare Wing closed, and the Corps training unit moved to Hong Kong. But, in 1976 a small cadre of Gurkha Jungle Warfare Instructors set up a jungle training team in Brunei, where they continued to run jungle courses and maintain the British Army's hard-won jungle warfare experience from the campaigns in Burma, Malaya and Borneo. These instructors were called Training Team Brunei with some support given by the British Army's Brunei Garrison.

In 1982 the team was formerly established and moved to its own purposely built accommodation in Medicina Lines, Seria. On January 1, 2000, Training Team Brunei was incorporated into the (UK) School of Infantry Training Group and renamed the Jungle Warfare Wing.

RAVC, Melton Mowbray, Graduation Class, 1987

The RAVC's Dogs

The RAVC's aim was to make each type of dog, a specialist in its own shere there wasn't any attempt to teach more than one skill, a policy, that still continues today.

The dogs were trained as: Guard (Protection) Dogs, Trackers, Infantry Patrol Dogs, Sweep Dogs and Mine Detection Dogs; of them all, the Tracker Dog required the longest training.

But it was guard dogs, that was needed immediately after the war ended, to guard the dozens of new army posts and the air fields in Occupied Europe, North Africa, and the Far East.

But the need for guards dogs was soon over taken by urgent demands for specialist dogs to serve in Palestine and Cyprus, those dogs were what we now call Detectors and Trackers!

Crisis In Palestine,1946
And The First Detector Dogs!

One of the first use of Detector Dogs by the British Army was in the Middle East in Palestine. Palestine was a British mandate since the end of the first world war; Arab natives and Jewish settlers were fighting each other, over a small piece of desert that both had called home for hundreds of years and the British had made it a offense for either side to have weaponsl

But thousands of weapons, were being smuggle into Palestine to both sides, from susporters in Europe and the United States, and then quickly hidden from the English.

From their experiences during the last war, they knew that the dogs could detect the chemicals used in burried land mines, now the question was, could the dogs find hidden weapons as well?

Search Team Testing Harness
On Wessex Helicopter, 1985

No one knew for sure, so Army K9 trainers quickly went about selecting a handful of dogs to be trained at their Dog School in England and tested against electronic mine detectors.

During the testing, weapons burried at depths of five to seven feet in ploughed and sandy soil went undetected by the army electronic mine detectors, but were discoved with ease by the dogs. With this encouraging results in hand, ten trained dogs, with handlers drawn from the Royal Engineers, were sent out to Palestine.

Once there, the Detector Dog Teams quickly went to work in both the arab and jewish settlements, with remarkable results.

In one Jewish settlement, the dogs found a huge cashe of weapons hidden five feet under the concrete floor of a hen house; and in a Arab settlement, they found a steel drum burried five feet in the ground, under a pile of gravel, loaded with explosives!

The British Army was never able to completely stop the flow of weapons into Palestine, but they did mange to keep thousands of weapons from being used in a war that still continues today!

Footnote:  Late 1969, the RAVC started to train army dogs to detect drugs, following the success of the Metropolian Police Dept. (ie: Scotland Yard); at first the dogs were only trained to find marijiuna, but the detection of other drugs soon followed.

History of Tracker Dogs!

Great Britain's first experience with what we now call, tracker dogs was just before World War 2 actually started, MI5 British Intelligence was parachuting secret agents and SAE units into the Nazi occupied territories on various missions, and the Germans were using special tracker dogs that were trained to hunt them down, by following their scent on the ground, with some degree of success.

Because of the Nazis' success, British Intelligence formed a small unit of dog trainers, who original aim was to find ways of baffling these new search dogs once they picked up a agent's scent trail.

While the use of search dogs wasn't new or even exceptional, as bloodhounds had been used for centuries by the police, in both Britain and Europe ...the fact, that these Nazi dogs were trained to be silent, and follow only one particular scent on the ground and were now being used by the military was!

The British Army quickly recognized the value of using such a dog, adapted them into their own War Dog program, but unlike the Germans, whose dogs were trained to attack their quarry, the British dogs were not.

Early on, it was also decided, that black and yellow Labrador retrievers, made far better trackers, than German Shepherds. Labs were more passive, adapted well, and favored the dead scent of ground sniffing. Labs were also considered a better choice for mine detecting, for the same reasons.

CTT Operation Malaya 1960's

A silent Tracker Dog is trained to follow only one scent on the ground, this scent must be given to the dog, by having it sniff an footprint, an article of clothing or a blood trail; each scent trial is as unique as an person's fingerprints, and the dog will follow only it among the hundreds of other odors that crosses its path.

The primary role of Tracker Dogs is to locate the enemy, but not engage, although they did.

Normally, Trackers work on a 18-foot lead, but there was a time during the Malayan Emergency, that the Army tried working them off lead  because of the density of the jungle growth. The results were disastous,  handlers couldn't see their dogs, much less read the dog's subtle alerts, after a number of patrols were ambushed, the practice was ended.

Of all the various types of service dogs, Trackers receive the longest training ....usually six to eight months at two years of age, and work for six years or so, before being retired.

During the war, in late 1943, British Fourth Army established "Wrecke Patrols," highly trained units, using both human scouts and Tracker Dogs to successfully find the hundreds of Japs, who were hiding on the islands in the Pacific Theatre. It would only be afew years later, that wrecke patrols would be developed into a highly trained combat concept by the British Army.

But the biggest success of Tracker Dogs was to come years later, against insurgents in the equatorial highlands of Kenya, the arid mountains of Cyprus, and the tropical jungles of both Malaya, and Borneo...to name afew of Britain's Small Wars!


Some years ago,  Brigadier George Young, MBE,  the former Director of the RAVC, observed, "It is not unreasonable to say that the War Dog is probably more firmly established as a part of the armed forces than ever before. Despite the breathtaking advances in modern armaments there will always be scope for the talents of trained dogs, no matter where the Army is called upon to operate. Nothing that man has invented, or is likely to invent in the foreseeable future can replace those qualities of which have made the dog such an outstanding member of the animal kingdom and the devoted servant of man."  G.Y., 1953

Brigadier Young spoke more truly than perhaps he realized.




India, 1945 - 1948

Palestine Crisis, 1945 - 1948

Malaya Emergency, 1948 - 1960

Combat Tracker Team, Malaya Emergency

Korean War, 1950 - 1953

Kenyan Emergency, 1952 - 1960

Cyprus Emergency, 1955 - 1959

Search Team, Cyprus 1957

Suez Canal Crisis, 1956

Borneo Confrontation, 1962 - 1966

Vietnam War, 1962 - 1975

Australians CTT Served In Vietnam; Great Britain
Wasn't Directly Involved, But Did Support the US

Alden & Radfan Crisis, 1964 - 1967

Northern Ireland: The Troubles, 1969 - Present

Ulster Defence Regiment Tracker Patrol, 1975

Oman & Dhofar,1970 - 1975

Hong Kong, Chinese Border

Royal Marines Onboard HMS Bulwark, May 1970

Singapore Riots 1975

The Falklands, 1982

The Gulf War, 44 Days in 1991

The Ministry of Defence's Police
& Their Dog Units

Army Department Constabulary Dog Unit, Early 1971


Today,  the Ministry of Defence's Police is a national, armed, uniformed civil police service of over 3,500 officers, men and women who are responsible for conducting the policing of the United Kingdom's Defence Community.

The current Police Force was formally established on October 1, 1971, when the newly created Ministry of Defence made the decision to amalgamate and combine the Admiralty, the Army Department and Air Force's Constabularies into one service... and formed today's MDP Force!

Reg Kitchener & Red

While the early history of how today's Ministry of Defence's Police came about is well documented...very little is actually known about their use of dogs prior to 1971, however we do know that in '69,  protection guard dogs were being used by the Army Department Constabulary, and very likely earlier. I would also think that the Navy and the Air Force Department constabularies were using dogs prior to 1969 as well.

Today, the MDP can trace its origins back over 300 years to 1686, when Samuel Pepys of Diary fame, was the Admiralty Secretary; Pepys recognized the need for a force "to protect and guard against crimes" in the naval yards and suggested setting up policing for the Royal Dockyards.

As a result of Samuel Pepys instructions, a Force of "Porters, Rounders, Warders and Watchmen" was formed in 1686 to guard the Naval Yards.

Porters were responsible for identifying visitors and escorting them to the appropriate heads of departments; the Rounders patrolled the Yard or as their name implies, did the rounds; Warders were responsible for all the keys and backed up the Porters at the gates and the Watchmen, who were employed nights only, guarded or watched important buildings or areas. The Rounders were the senior branch of the Force, and they kept an eye on the other three groups.

Historical MDP Timeline

1686 Secretary for the Affairs of the Admiralty, Samuel Pepys establishes a civil Force of "Porters, Rounders, Warders and Watchmen" to prevent crimes within the Naval Yards.

At the same time, a military force of Naval Marines, compose of one Subaltern, several non commission officers, and thirty six privates was formed, to assist them.

1829 The Metropolian Police force was formally established.

1834 May 20th,  After 148 years, Pepys' Force was disbanded and the first Dockyard Police was formed, consisting of Special Constables, who were sworn in under oath, that gave them full police powers in the yards, and 5 miles radius outside.

Plymouth Yard's Police Barracks

1855 The Metropolitan Police assumed the duties of policing the dockyards, ending the short life of the Dockyard Police.

The Metropolitan Police unit carried on many of the traditions inherited from the Dockyard Police and the Watchmen before them; they continued to serve in the dual role of policemen and firemen; and they had authority from HM Customs and Excise to assist in the prevention of smuggling. Also during their watch, they formed a Water Police Branch, to patrol the docks from the water.

1860 Metropolitan Police took over the policing of Portsmouth, Devonport and several other yards, within their area. By a Act of Parliament, the area of their power increased to a radius of 15 miles outside each yard. It also authorized, for the first time, their policing of certain Army establishments.

1922 June, - the Geddes' Committee on National Expenditure recommended the withdrawal of the Metropolitan Police, and the Admiralty decided to institude a new civil force to be known as the Royal Marines Police to replace the Metropolitan Police.

Royal Marine Civil Police, 1930

1922 October 13th, the Royal Marine Police was created by a Order In Council; they were to be administered by an Adjutant General Royal Marines. The members, mostly retired marines, were sworn in as Special Constables.

Finally in 1932, a Chief Constable was appointed, for the RM, and the last Metrolpolitan Police was finally withdrawn in 1934, ending 74 years of outstanding service.

1939 September, the Royal Marines had little time to establish themselves before the Second World War was upon them.

Their restrictive practice of recruiting only Navy and Marines pensioners showed its weakness with the drying up of the source of supply, men who expected to retire from the Forces being retained for the duration of the War.

To counter this the requirements were changed to permit any ex-service men from any branch to enlist in a new section of the Force known as the Royal Marine Police Special Reserve.

This still failed to achieve its desired aim and a 3rd force, the Admiralty Civil Police was formed and anyone, regardless of former military service, could join.

Old Marine Unit, Thames, 1925

In fact, many men who did join that Force were allowed to do so an as an alternative to joining the Armed forces.

Consequently,  by the end of the War in 1945,  the Admiralty found itself with not one, but three Police Forces, each with a different conditions of service and discipline, but all under the same Chief Constable.

This situation was obviously undesirable and inefficient and in October 1949 the 3 Forces were disbanded and the Admiralty Constabulary was formed.

1949 October, the Admiralty Constabulary was the first civil Force to establish a 6 month Training School for its members; previously recruits received only 3 weeks of instructions from experience members.

1965 The cabinet post of the Navy, Army and Air Force were combined under a new Ministry of Defence.

Army Dept, 1971

1971 On October 13th, the newly created Ministry of Defence made the decision to amalgamate and combine the Admiralty, the Army Department and Air Force's Constabularies into one service and formed today's MDP Force!

1974 The first 2 female officers joined the Ministry of Defence Police Force; today, over 250 women are members!

1987  Parliament's Ministry of Defence Police Act placed all the previous Acts under the umbrella of one piece of legislation, thus making it easier to enforce and understand.

1996 On April 24th, the MDP was formally established as an Agency under the Secretary of State for Defence.

Today's MDP Dog Section

Today the MDP has one of the largest Police Dog Sections within the UK, with 300 police dogs which are trained at the RAVC's Defence Animal Centre, in Melton Mowbray, for a number of special roles: such as General Police Dogs, and Specialist Search Dogs which can locate Drugs, Explosives, Guns and Ammunitions, SAR or Human Remains. 

Reg & Red, Early 1971

Most of the  MDP's 300 Patrol Dogs are used to provide an armed police deterrent, behind the wire on all military bases throughout the country, including those of the United States; they also provide K-9 security at most Ministry Of Defence plants and buildings, and assist local police departments, if needed.

Terrorist Can Run, But They Can't Hide
...Not With Quinn Around!

Quinn, is a eight year old, specially trained malinois police dog, who is the Ministry of Defence's newest weapon against terrorist.

Wearing a bullet proof vest, and a tiny infra-red video camera, strapped to his head, it's Quinn's job to enter and search buildings, that his handler can't.

Quinn's camera beams live images back to a mobile command centre outside, making it possible for MDP officers to assess any hostile situation, thus enabling them to act accordingly.

Quinn, is one of thirty camera dogs, that the Ministry of Defence Police will have trained by the end of this year; training is being conducted at the RAVC's DAC, Melon Mowbray.

Other Special MDP Units

Since its inception in 1971 the MDP has been responsible for the waterborne security of all of Her Majesty's Dockyards; its Marine Units operate the largest number of watercraft of any UK police force today!

All MDP marine officers hold depositions from HM Customs & Excise,  which enable them to stop and search any sea going vessels for drugs and contraband.

In addition,  the Force has an very effective and experienced Criminal Investigation Department including one of the largest Fraud Squads in the country. These detectives are supported by teams of civilian experts, trained in information technology, forensic examination, accounting and financial analysis.

The Special Branch, Intelligence and Surveillance Units share information with other police forces and security agencies, and provide essential support services to both uniformed and CID officers.

The Operational Support Unit, based at MDPs headquarters in Wethersfield, Essex, is the MDP own multi-capability response unit.

The OSU can deploy teams around the country at short notice to provide specialist police trained in skills such as: ammunition and explosive searches, specialist weapons officers, personal protection for VIP's, riot control plus teams trained for nuclear, chemical and biological hazards.

Officers in another specialist group, the Special Escort Group, provide all armed police escorts for nuclear materials moving between government establishments.

As well as policing all Ministry Of Defence sites, the Force is deployed on repayment at all USAF bases located within the United Kingdom, Defence Research Establishments, some Royal Ordnance Factories and at the Royal Mint.  Ministry of Defence Police officers are also responsible for policing all public functions held on MOD property.

SiteBuilder:  We wish to thank Owen Reginald Kitchener, retired MDP Officer, for the use of his K-9 photos of himself and Red and also Andy Gale, editor of Modpol Superhighway Patrol website, for allowing us to use their MDP vintage photos; this section on the MDP couldn't had been built without both their help


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