Intermission (10) – Buddies in war

GI Jenny, the burro mascot of the Army in North Africa, with Cpl. William Wende & Pito, 1943

GI Jenny, the burro mascot of the Army in North Africa, with Cpl. William Wende & Pito, 1943

We couldn’t allow the Intermission period to pass without a post about the animals.  Many have already seen my post about Marine Dog Lucca and the 9/11 work dogs, so here is another……

When waging war against each other, human armies often enlist the aid of the animal kingdom. In past conflicts, horses, elephants, and camels hauled men and supplies; pigeons carried messages; dogs tracked enemies and protected troops. Their efforts helped to turn battles—and the fortunes of many a combat soldier.

Tim - was the mascot of the Australian Army 2/2nd Battalion

Tim – was the mascot of the Australian Army 2/2nd Battalion

Carrying on this tradition, U.S. forces employed thousands of animals during World War II. They could be found in every theater of the war: They were workers and warriors; they were soldiers’ comrades-in-arms and companions in battle. Their widespread presence on the battlefields was documented by government photographers covering the war.

Horses, mules, and dogs were regularly employed by American forces to work on the battlefields of World War II. Horses carried soldiers on patrol missions in Europe and into battle in the Philippines. Mules, trained in the United States and shipped by the thousands into war zones, contributed their strength and sweat to the fight. Their backs bore the food, weapons, and sometimes the men of entire infantry units.

Pvt. Hunt the parakeet was a mascot in the Solomon Islands, here w/ Pvt. Currie

Pvt. Hunt the parakeet was a mascot in the Solomon Islands, here w/ Pvt. Currie

Some twenty thousand dogs served the U.S. Army, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. They guarded posts and supplies, carried messages, and rescued downed pilots. Scout dogs led troops through enemy territory, exposing ambushes and saving the lives of platoons of men. In the throes of combat, war dogs proved their intelligence, courage, and steadfast loyalty time and time again. Many photographs in National Archives holdings document the exploits—and the sacrifice—of America’s animal warriors.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Information was condensed from the U.S. National Archives, also most of the photos, others from Waronline and AOL Images.

Click on images to enlarge.   Some are not available larger.

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Military Dog Humor –

college-4-19 Aim for the cat###################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Merlin Bishop – Delta, UT; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Robert Casey – Terre Haute, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army

Charles Dixon – Augusta, GA; US Army, WWII, CBI + Africa, Majorhalfstaffflag

Cliff Hall – WY & CO; US Navy, WWII

James Lindly – Lubbock, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188/11th Airborne

Alan Mason – Feilding, NZ; RNZ Navy # 6075, WWII

Herbert Nesbitt Sr. – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, Sgt., pilot

Edward Richards – Victoria, AUS; RA Army # 3156502, Vietnam, 4th Battalion

Biagio Tedesco – brn: St. Agata, ITA/Milwaukee, WI; US Army, WWII, PTO

John Wagner – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 12, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 94 Comments.

  1. Truly unsung heroes. Brave, devoted, and offering emotional support what was not to love.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know what i thought of when I read your post, GP. Francis the Talking Mule. He was a true hero of mine when I was a child. Not too long ago, I found one of his old movies and bought it. I was still tickled. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These posts are wonderful tributes to the animal companions and working comrades of our troops, GP. My own father had a monkey during the war. Any honors earned by these animals should be more than “honorary”. They deserve equal status.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remembered about your father and his monkey, and being as the NARA resource did not have one of those pictures – I went hunting for one!! Thanks for reading and commenting here, Lavinia – you are a special friend!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for honoring animals too!! 👍👏

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  5. There is the wonderful story of Winnie, a mascot bear with an Army unit in WWI. After the war the bear was given to the London zoo. A.A. Milne and his son visited the zoo frequently, and his son became quite attached to the bear. Apparently in those days, people could go into the cages or areas of some animals, and his son did. Of course that bear became part of A.A. Milne’s children’s stories as Winnie the Pooh.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So amazing to think of all the animals who were enlisted in the war effort. Thanks for the reminder to honor them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We don’t often think about the impact animals have on our fighting soldiers. They are a true asset. Love the cartoon and the obedience poster at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post! Really enjoyed the photographs!

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  9. Fabulous photograph

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  10. Agreed~!

    But I must admit to hooting out loud at those cartoon pix (especially “Aim for the cat!”) (brilliant~!).

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  11. I’m guessing aside from the practical functions animals served, companionship was another important aspect of their presence. I did a lot of research on ancient cavalries for one of my books and it was tragic how many horses died in battle. I remember being shocked by the numbers. A fascinating and informative post, GP. Have a wonderful weekend.

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    • I hate to hear about the animals who were sacrificed, but of course, history is there and must not be sugar-coated in its repeating. Just sad to think about. I admire your research into another portion of our past.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. During WWl 136,000 horses left Australia for use by the Army. Only one ever came back. A lot went to Inda for the use of the Indian Army.
    There are many stories in Australia of US Army units leaving their mascot animals behind. In one area near Ballarat there are many reports of huge cats which are believed to be the off spring of Pumas that some units had. But the evidence is inconclusive.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love the photographs! You are right about mules, by the way. They were brought in their thousands to the Mediterranean area, and were very highly prized because they were literally enormous compared to the European mules…a third as big again, at least.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It surprised me that all those burros were actually shipped there from the United States. It just never occurred to me. I imagine the animals were a great source of comfort as well as assistance on the military front.

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  15. Oh drat. The blog gremlins didn’t post my comment (at least not that I can see). Just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed this post. I was looking at that obedience school poster and thinking how my dogs would fail horribly. Just yesterday they practically yanked my arm out of the socket when they saw a rabbit and wanted to chase it into the bushes. Hmmmm….they ARE huskies. Maybe that’s the problem. German Shepherds seem to be the choice for disciplined canines!

    Like

    • I don’t believe I ever heard of a husky being a work dog, other than pulling sleds (tough enough of a job, I’d say). Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I keep trying to figure out how to use their tireless pulling ability to my advantage. I thought I’d try to let them pull me on a saucer in the snow last winter but couldn’t figure out how I’d stop them when I’d had enough. They’re not the best listeners and I could see myself getting yanked off and pulled through the snow on my belly!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. “Aim for the cat!” Oh my goodness…still laughing! This was a great post. I enjoyed reading it immensely!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I understand that horses during World War I played a large role in combat, and took a lot of casualties. Not sure how it went for them during the second World War.

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    • With mechanized vehicles being in production, the horses didn’t play as large a part, but depending on the part of the war you’re talking about – they were probably there too.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Excellent post, Everett and you are correct that they are worth their weight in gold. Have read stories how many times they saved the soldier and hurt themselves in the process!

    Like

  19. Nice post GP. Noticed the Australian presence as well, much appreciated. It reminded me of the Polish Cavalry Charge against German tanks in 1939. I think their last in history. How brave and disciplined those horses and men must have been, how terrible most of their fates. I saw some movie back in the 90s set during the war about a service dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. When you are surrounded by the stress of war, the companionship of a loyal and friendly animal can put you back in touch with your humanity. Nice one, GP, and great photos too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Haha! Loved the dog pics, GP!! 🙂

    Like

  22. This animals are good for the soldiers morale.

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  23. One of my favorite posts.

    Like

  24. An over-sighted blessing to many a soldier. They brought a bit of normalcy to the chaos. Great post, GP.

    Like

  25. As a dog lover, I am so glad you posted this. Too many have died or been injured in wars—people and animals.

    Like

  26. Excellent tribute to the Animals who have played a role in all conflicts, two cases that come to mind is Simpson and his Donkey in moving the wounded from the Gallipoli peninsular, the other is closer to home for me, and that was the tracker Dogs in Vietnam, at that time the tracker Dogs were not permitted back on Australian soil, sadly a number of handlers put their dogs down at the side of the airstrip before embarkation, that policy has changed I believe.
    Thanks for a great post gp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a sad ending for their loyalty and sacrifice. I certainly hope Australia has changed its policy!! Glad you liked the post, Ian.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Ian you said this subject was close to home. The internet says the Australian Dogs in Vietnam were to be put down but it caused a bit of a problem. One Australian Handler had his rifle taken from him until disembarkation for example. In the end it was decided homes with Europeans in South Vietnam would be sought out. If they failed to find a home then dog was to be killed. It is claimed all 11 Tracker Dogs found homes. Still not good enough but maybe Ian you can confirm if this report is accurate? These dogs served up to 3 years in theatre and apparently the Army just didn’t want to shell out $700 for the quarantine. A sizeable amount then but trivial compared to the number of lives saved by these dogs. The Dogs thankfully do come now, their value recognised by the Army as far greater than the simple cost of quarantine. Thank you Ian for raising an important part of Australia’s defence history.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Lloyd, thank for the response mate, your comment is spot on as of my knowledge, I am not sure one hundred percent what the scenario was at my time over there, but quarantine didn’t come into the picture at that time, probably for the reason you stated, I would like to think the outcome was as you say, homes being found for them in country. I need to research more on the subject but think their is a Military Dog Handlers site on Face Book, thanks again for the interest Lloyd and kind regards. Ian

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Your stories are always great but sometimes, like today, they are exceptional.

    Like

  28. Dogs are the best. I mean, twenty thousand have served?! Wow! That’s impressive.

    Like

  29. Lieber Gruß guter Beitrag ich wünsche dir einen schönen Tag eine Umarmung Gislinde

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  30. Really Cool Post GP!!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I am glad we honour these loyal animal friends.

    Liked by 2 people

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