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Norwich Bulletin - 11/2/2008

Remember Our Animal War Heroes

The story of STUBBY actually starts with the beginning of World War I in Europe. From 1914 to 1917 the French, Germans and other countries struggled with each other for control of France and Europe. In April of 1917 America finally entered the war and mobilized its National Guard forces.

The 1st Connecticut from the Hartford area and the 2nd Connecticut from the New Haven area were sent to Camp Yale for encampment and training. It turned out that the two infantries could not muster the required number of forces between them to form a fully manned regiment and so they were combined and became the 102nd Infantry. They then were made a part of the 26th (YANKEE) division of Massachusetts.

It was around the time of the merger that Stubby wandered into the encampment and befriended the soldiers. In October 1917 when the unit shipped out for France, and Stubby who had become the Unofficial-Official mascot, was smuggled aboard the troop ship in an overcoat and sailed with his troops.

Times were not good in France for Americans and the Expeditionary Force was looked upon as an infantry of second class soldiers, not to be trusted without French oversight. With that type of attitude towards our soldiers, and the trench warfare combined with deadly gas, obviously took a serious toll on both the men and their spirits. Stubby did his part to boost morale by providing uplifting visits up and down the line and he was bale to offer early warnings about gas attacks, or by wake a sleeping sentry to alert him to a German attack.

In April 1918 the Americans, and the 102nd Infantry, finally got their chance to prove their mettle when they participated in the raid on the German held town of Schieprey. As the Germans withdrew from the city, they threw hand grenades at the pursuing allies. Unfortunately, Stubby found himself on top of a trench when a grenade went off. Stubby was seriously wounded in the foreleg. Stubby did recover and in fact, the women of France in the town of Thierry, made him a blanket, embroidered with the flags of the allies. This blanket coat also held his wound stripe and numerous medals.

Stubby showed the Americans how important dogs were to the military and in World War II, dogs were utilized in many ways. Camp LaJuene, North Carolina was the home of the war Dog Training School, where dogs began their training with the rank of private. In fact, War Dogs could actually out-rank their handlers!

The breed of choice for the combat dog was the Doberman pinscher. German tax collector Louis Doberman first developed this versatile breed in the Apolda region of Germany to suit his own need for a loyal, obedient, fiercely protective dog to accompany him in his rounds as a tax collector. Later, the dogs were trained as police dogs in 19th Century Germany. During WWII, approximately 75% of There was even a non-profit organization called Dogs for Defense, in which the public could loan their family dogs to the Marine Corps.

Each dog went through a rigorous course of obedience training for a period of six weeks. After basic training, the dogs were divided into groups for specialized training: scout, messenger or infantry. Scout dogs were sent first with the handler to detect mines or enemy troops. Messenger dogs would follow their handler's trail and carry correspondence or supplies and Infantry dogs alerted the troops of the enemy's presence.

The dogs used signals to alert the soldiers of Japanese presence as they were trained not to bark. The dogs could detect a human scent up to one-half mile away. During the war, the Japanese were unable to successfully ambush any of the War Dog platoons. In August 1945, the war Dog Platoons were disbanded. Many of the dogs were retrained for civilian life and sent back to their families, while several remained with their handlers.

There were 1,047 dogs enlisted during World War II, with 465 serving in combat conditions. Twenty-five dogs died during service in the Pacific during the war. The first War Dog Memorial which is a life-size bronze statue of a Doberman Pinscher, was unveiled on the U. S. Naval Base on Guam during the 50th anniversary of the liberation of that island.

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