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

--------------- 1914 - 1918 --------------

Featuring The History of The United States and Great Britain!

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

Introduction To The Great War!

This major conflict saw the first large scale use of war dogs in military history, and it was no longer more or less haphazard but organized and specialized.

During World War I, vast numbers of dogs were employed as: sentries; messengers; ammunition, pigeons, and food carriers; scouts; sled dogs; draught dogs; guard dogs; ambulance dogs; ratters; Red Cross casualty dogs: and even cigarette dogs.

German Red Cross

It's estimated that Germany alone employed over 30,000 dogs for such purposes and about.20,000 served with the French Army, the Italians fielded 3,000 dogs for the Allies, the British, Belgians and the Russians thousands more!

The United States (with the exception of some sled dogs, kept in Alaska) had no organized dogs units, but borrowed a limited number of dogs from the French and British forces for casualty, messenger and guard duty.

Search & Rescue Dog With WWI Ambulance

Many different breeds saw active duty during the war depend- ing on the job at hand. Bulldogs, Bloodhounds, Farm Collies, retrievers, Dobermans, Airedales, Jack Russell and Wired Fox Terriers, sheep dogs and German Shepherds were all used in a variety of roles. Purebreds did not have any advantage over mixed breeds, what was important was that they displayed the proper character.

Preferred were dogs of medium build and grayish or black in color, with good eyesight and a keen sense of smell. But the temperament and disposition of the dog usually came first!

British 'Mercy Dogs,' Farm Collies

Countless  Red Cross Casualty Dogs,  also known as Mercy Dogs, took part in World War I; they were first trained by the Germans in the late eighteen hundreds, and later adopted by the other European countries.

The Germans called them Sanitatshunde (sanitary); equipped with their saddlebags of medical supplies, they sought out the wounded, and gave comfort to the dying.

Thousands of soldiers, on both sides, owe their lives to these remarkable animals, yet the dogs only helped a small fraction of the casualties that numbered in the millions during the war.

Trench warfare and stagnant front lines ended with the Great War and with it the necessity ever to use the Red Cross dogs again

German Red Cross Dogs Resting Behind Lines!

The messenger dogs, considered by some as the real heros of the war, were credited with indirectly saving thousands of lives, by delivering vital dispatches when phone lines broke down, in between units at the front and headquarters behind. Barbed wire, slit trenches, shell holes and chemical gases were among the many obstacles faced by these brave dogs.

Messengers Learning To Jump The Wire!

While in the front trenches, it was sentinel dogs, that gave the soldiers advance warning of approaching patrols, preventing the enemy from getting close enough to use hand grenades.

According to Lt. Colonel E. H. Richardson, commandant of the World War I British War Dog School, the qualities necessary in a sentry dog are "acute hearing and scent, sagacity, fidelity, and a strong sense of duty." Although the sentry's mission was less spectacular than many wartime canine functions, it saved the most human life.

YMCA Cigarette Dog, Delivery Service!

Two of the more unusual dogs that were used during the Great War, were the ratters, and the YMCA cigarette dogs. Ratters were the terriers, whose natural instincts helped to keep the rat infested muddy trenches clear; and the small Cigarette Dogs, sponsored by the YMCA, had the task of delivering cartons of cigarettes to the troops, stationed on the front lines.

Combat Ace Field Kindley
With His Mascot "Fokker!"

Then there's one other type of dog, that we haven't mention before now, and that is the mascot.

Soldiers of both sides, adopted many dogs as mascots while fighting during World War I. Mascots, by their merry pranks and the keen interest they showed in everything that was going on; by their readiness to respond to every kind word and to every friendly act; by their courage, loyalty and everlasting good nature, they helped to relieve the feverish strains of war, and to keep up the morale of the men in the trenches as it seemed nothing else on earth could do.

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin, for example, was a German mascot puppy, part of a litter of five, found by a Corporal Lee Duncan (1893-1960), from the 136th Aero Division. Duncan, along with others were scoutng the countyside looking for a new field headquarters, when they stumbled upon an abandoned German war dog station and the puppies. And the rest, as they say, is 'movie history!'

Rinty would grow up to be a matinee idol during the twenties and thirties and along with Strongheart, another dog movie star, added to the popularity of the German Shepherd breed.

A Pictorial Tour
Of The Dogs Of War...On The
Western Front

French Red Cross Dogs Waiting To Go Over The Top

The setting for World War I was very unique!  Few could see how dogs could serve or even survive when the big guns began to thunder, and their shells blasted great, gaping crater out of heavily manned sections of trenches. When batteries dropped their steel curtain of high explosive called barrages with speed and precision in front of attacking waves.

A Red Cross Dog With Saddlebag

When choking, blistering gas spread its poison vapors, and clung to the wet woods and the earth was a deep, stickly sea of mud and armies month after month lay locked in combat.

Yet remarkably it was under these forbidden circumstances of trench warfare, and in the face of the development of modern weapons, communications, and transportation, that the Dog of War really came into his own.

A British Farm Collie Mercy Dog

The Allies' Red Cross casualty dogs were trained to find the wounded and return to their handler with either the wounded man's helmet or someother part of his uniform, to indicate to their keeper, that they had located someone.

German Red Cross Dogs

And the Germans dogs were trained to either carry the short brindel (or brinsel) leash in their mouth if wounded were found or to let it hang loose otherwise.

Although, the French general, Joffre, abolished all the Mercy Dogs in the French Army in 1915, a French Red Cross dog named Prusco was credited with saving the lifes of over 100 men in one day, including even pulling some back into the safety of the trenches.

"Service des Chiens de Guerre"

French Kennels On The Front.
"Service des Chiens de Guerre."

French War Dogs!

Of all the Allies, the French used more dogs, and in the greatest number of ways. The French War Dog Service was established shortly after the beginning of the war, in 1914 and its success was due largely to the untiring efforts of Sergeant Paul Megnin, who later became chief of the service.

Players Cigarette Card Pic
Of French Red Cross K-9

Besides using auxiliary sentry dogs, the French also had what they called:

Enclosure Dogs

These were simply an efficient watchdog to be set free at night inside an enclosed area, such as a factory yard. Used mainly by the French Minister of Armament, training was from ten days to two weeks.

Detective Dogs

Were what we now call tracker dogs; these dogs were trained for at least three months.

Players Cigarette Card Pic Of
French K-9 Delivering Food!

Pack & Driving Dogs

These were big, powerful animals that were not qualified for other army work; and were used as draft dogs: pulling machine guns, mortar and supply carts, and as pack dogs: delivering food, etc.

French Pack Dog's Saddlebag Being Loaded

The French even divided their messenger dogs into two classes:


Those trained (six weeks) to run with a message from one point to another, and...

Liaison Dogs

Trained to do the same thing as a Estafette Dog, but also to return, with an answer to the message. Training was three months. The most famous of this type was Satan of Verdun.

Even though, the French military had used sentry dogs as early as the seventeen hundreds, Sergeant Megnin still had prejudices to overcome; battlefield commanders couldn't understand how to use the dogs tactically in the war zone.

A French Hander And His Dog,
Both Are Wearing Gas Masks.

One example is Za and Helda, two Alsatian sheep dogs of the French war dog service, that had been trained for sentry duty. Sgt. Megnin and an assistant had offered them to a Captain at the front, but he doubted their ability and refused to put them to work.

Megnin politely pressed for an opportunity to show the officer exactly what the dogs could do. After awhile, the Captain told of a Boche outpost that they couldn't locate; and if the dogs could discover it, he would then be for sentry dogs. That night he was finally persuaded when the two dogs sniffed out the secret enemy outpost only 250 meters away from the French lines. A French battery did the rest!

The French War Dog Service organized two kennels near Paris, and a third in Normandy, for the training of dogs, and a fourth was being contemplated at the time the Armistice was signed. As soon as the four footed defenders had completed their education, the watchmen and others (handlers) were sent to the school at Satory for an eight (8) day course in dog handling, during which time they became thoroughly acquainted with the particular animals with which they were to work.

As we previously mentioned, the Sentinel Dogs gave soldiers advance warning of approaching patrols, preventing the enemy from getting close enough to use hand grenades.

Germans Used Boxers

One such sentry, was a French canine named Kiki, who was wounded in action against an enemy patrol and was evacuated for treatment. He was bandaged and was back at his post within hours, just in time to detect another enemy patrol before it could surprise his unit.

Another was Cabot, a powerful French sentry dog with a dash of bulldog blood in his veins, had an "unexpected pleasure one night of intercepted a German messenger dog and 'capured' its metal tube containing important enemy dispatches.

Captured German War Dogs Were
Retrained By The Allies!

During the Great War, messenger dogs were sometimes the only way to communicate between the front lines and their headquarters, because of the broken radio lines. Dogs were ideal for this type of work, as they could run faster than a man and they presented a smaller target.

The World War I messenger dog had a difficult mission, not only did it have to travel great distances, often under fire, it had to overcome hundreds of obstacles in its path, including rivers and barbed wire fences.

Belgian Draft Dogs On The March

In one battle in March 1918, an French infantry company was attacked by a considerable German force and was almost surrounded and a triple barrage fire prevented retreat. The commanding officer had dispatched three runners, one after another, telling headquarters of their critical position but all of them were killed. He then sent Patsou, a French messenger dog, who ran through a withering barrage, covering 3,000 meters in a little over ten minutes, to deliver the message calling for immediate help.

Reinforcements were sent up in time to save 48 men, all that remained of Patsou's entire company.

Wounded French Dog Receiving Care

An anonymous English Setter was with his French Algerian master in the trenches during the Battle of the Marne. One night an artillery shell burst nearby, burying the soldier under a mass of earth and debris. The dog immediately began digging for him and continued until his paws were bloody. When he was too weak to dig any more, he began to bark loudly until he attracted the attention of soldiers, who came and rescued the unconscious and seriously wounded man and placed him in a ambulance. The dog followed the ambulance to a field hospital, and was allowed to stay by his master's bedside until he fully recovered ...the two left the hospital together.

Satan, Hero Of The Lost Ballation!

The Lost Ballation!

The War's Most Famous Messenger Dog
Was Satan Of Verdun!

During the siege of Verdun, Satan made his greatest run, which saved a town and its small garrison of French troops. It was a very small town, but it occupied an extremely important position and the garrison consisting of several hundred French soldiers, had orders to hold on until they were relieved; and when the enemy succeeded in cutting them off from their friends in the rear, they fought on bravely. The last homing pigeon had been killed by a shell and every other means of communication was destroyed.

With the garrison was a famous dog trainer named Duval, from the War Dog School at Satory. He had been sent to the front with two dogs, Rip and Satan. Rip, a soft eyed Irish Setter, was killed in action soon after his arrival and Satan had been left with the French troops two miles in the rear of the now isolated town where his master was stationed

Satan was an ideal messenger dog, swift limbed, intelligent, and absolutely fearless under fire. He was as black as night.

Satan loved just one man and that man was Duval. Duval also knew, that if the men in the rear needed to sent a message, Satan would be the one to carry it; so every once in a while, he would look out cautiously, in hope of seeing his dog.

At last, his hopes were realized, when he spotted a black speck moving toward them in the distance. But presently the speck became a dog, a black dog wearing a gas mask and skimming the earth as he came. As he raced over the rough ground and leaped the shell holes, some of the men declared that he was flying, that they even saw his wings.

As the dog neared, a German bullet found its mark, and down he felled. But he staggered to his feet again, now on three legs and with the fourth swinging loose at the hip, he moved swiftly towards the fort. As he swept into the town, a dozen hands caught him and from a metal tube on his collar they took a message, which read: "For God's sake, hold on! Will sent troops to relieve you tomorrow."

But how could they? How was it possible with that German battery wthering them with its fire? But the metal tube containing the message was not all that Satan had brought them. What some men had mistaken for wings on Satan shoulders, were two little baskets, and in each was a homing pigeon scared almost to death.

An officer wrote two notes: "Silence the battery on our left." Then he added some figures showing the exact position; and then both pigeons were released into the air. One was hit, but the other flew straight and cleared the hail of bullets.

The rest of the story, is history, the German battery was destroyed and the tiny garrison saved, all because of one dog...Satan of Verdun!

Tommy, Holding His
Medal In His Mouth

A German shepherd named Tommy was the World War One mascot of a Scottish regiment and always went over the top with his men. He was wounded three times, was gassed when his custom made gas mask was not put on him in time, was captured, and eventually received the Croix de Guerre for gallantry.


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