Category Archives: WW1

Dog Mascots of WW1 and Their Cute Faces via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #WW1 #story #history

We saw already what amazing roles dogs played during the Great War and how many lives they saved. They’ve been helping in the trenches, acted as ratters, scouts, messengers, sentries; they’ve been Red Cross helpers, pulled wheeled machine guns or sleigh with supplies.

Dogs provided a great comfort to men fighting in the trenches - Staff Sergeant (Horse Farrier) of the Army Service Corps (ASC) with the Corps pet dogs, Hissy and Jack, in France in 1916. Source DailyMail
Staff Sergeant (Horse Farrier) of the Army Service Corps (ASC) with the Corps pet dogs, Hissy and Jack, in France in 1916. Source DailyMail

Not in the least important was the role dogs’ role as mascots, making the soldiers’ lives more bearable under the severe stress of war, constant battle and the constant death threats.

Canadian wounded soldier and the mascot puppy that put a smile on his face
Canadian wounded soldier and the mascot puppy that put a smile on his face

The size of the dog never mattered.

Through their warm companionship, their eagerness to please, their courage and loyalty and mostly through their friendly nature, dogs managed to raise the morale of the troops better than anything else.

The mascot dog of a regiment at the front listening attentively to a recruiting appeal on the gramophone.
The mascot dog of a regiment at the front listening attentively to a recruiting appeal on the gramophone.

Sergeant “Stubby”

Sgt. Stubby was an American Pit Bull Terrier mix and the most decorated dog of World War One: for discovering, capturing, and alerting the Allies to the presence of a German spy.

Sgt. Stubby
Sgt. Stubby , a 9-year-old veteran of the canine species. He has been through the World War as mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division. Stubby visited the White House to call on President Coolidge. November 1924

He has been through the World War as mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division. Stubby visited the White House to call on President Coolidge. November 1924

Most decorated and highly-ranked service dog in military history, Sergeant Stubby, a bull terrier.
Most decorated and highly-ranked service dog in military history, Sergeant Stubby, a bull terrier.

“Rags”, Mascot & War Hero

Rags found in Paris and fought alongside the U.S. 1st Infantry division as a mascot and a messenger dog. After arriving on US soil he became a lieutenant colonel and a celebrity.

Dog Hero - Rags with Sergeant George E. Hickman, 16th Infantry, 26th Division.
Dog Hero – Rags with Sergeant George E. Hickman, 16th Infantry, 26th Division.

Jack, the New Zealand Engineers mascot

Jack was a mascot dog attached to the main body of the New Zealand Engineers during their service in France during the First World War. This photograph was taken at Bertrancourt, France, on 6 April 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders.

Jack, a New Zealand mascot
Jack, a New Zealand mascot

Gibby, the Canadian’s mascot

“Gibby,” the mascot of a Canadian regiment, and his C.O.

Gibby, the mascot of a Canadian regiment, and his C.O. The dog had been gassed twice, but still went into action.
Gibby, the mascot of a Canadian regiment, and his C.O. The dog had been gassed twice, but still went into action.

A Jack Russell Terrier mascot of the 28th Division

What is special about this image is that the 28th Division keystone is clearly visible on the mascot’s vest, as well as two overseas chevrons.

Jack Russell mascot of the 28th Division
Jack Russell mascot of the 28th Division

The 28th Infantry Division is a unit of the Army National Guard and is the oldest division-sized unit in the armed forces of the United States. Some of the units of the division can trace their lineage to Benjamin Franklin’s battalion.

Caesar, a company, 4 Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade NZ mascot

Caesar was a trained Red Cross dog and helped rescue wounded troops during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Members of the NZ Rifle Brigade with Caesar. Source Auckland War Memorial Museum
Members of the NZ Rifle Brigade with Caesar. Source Auckland War Memorial Museum

Cesar, a bulldog and his handler, Rifleman Thomas Samuel Tooman, embarked for Egypt in 1016. His handler was assigned to train as an Ambulance Driver and Caesar was trained as a Red Cross Dog. Next they embarked for France, for the Battle of Somme.

Caesar was killed in action on No Man’s Land. He was found alongside a soldier who had also died, his hand resting on Caesar’s head.

Sammy, mascot of the Northumberland Fusiliers

Sammy, mascot of the Northumberland Fusiliers WW1
Sammy, mascot of the Northumberland Fusiliers WW1

Sometimes even enemy’s pets would be adopted after a battle, renamed and loved. And sometimes they got hurt too.

A British war dog receiving first aid.
A British war dog receiving first aid.

Some mascots took for the skies.

An RAF fox mascot sitting on a plane with the pilot during World War One. Source BBC
An RAF fox mascot sitting on a plane with the pilot during World War One. Source BBC

And not all mascots were dogs.

A British soldier “shaking hands” with a kitten in the snow. Neulette, France, 1917
A British soldier “shaking hands” with a kitten in the snow. Neulette, France, 1917

Do return for more posts on the role dogs played during WW2, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, in Israeli Special Forces, during the fall of the Berlin Wall, during the Gulf War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

Do check out my book Joyful Trouble, A humorous read about an incredible dog and how he had found his true, yet unexpected calling. It is a book for all ages.

My adult fiction book, Silent Heroes, is a #1 New Release, a contemporary fiction novel,  filled with action and emotional twists and turns. “Silent Heroes” has a strong historical and cultural feel of the area when the action takes place, Afghanistan.

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Amazing, True Stories of WW1 Dogs via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #war #WW1 #truestory #history #LestWeForget

If you read my previous posts you surely discovered the incredible variety of tasks dogs performed, willingly, during the Great War. No matter their size or breed, dogs found a place in the hearts of the troops, saving a great deal of lives in between.

Dogs have been man’s best friend for over 150 000 years, they offered comfort during peaceful times and support during battles. We saw how indispensable dogs proved to be in wars and why, how they helped soldiers in the trenches, how they wagged their tails as scouts and ambulance dogs and how saved lives as brave sled dogs during the Great War.

Some dogs were just mascots, others acted as real soldiers.

WW1 True Story: Steif, a mixed-breed German dog, saves the life of his master, Lieutenant von Wieland

During the German campaign on the Eastern front, a lieutenant leading an attack fell under the heavy Russian fire. Heavily wounded and unable to move, he sent back his men. At the same time back in the trenches, the lieutenant’s own dog, a Great Dane – Mastiff – hound mix, had gnawed his leash to set himself free. Steif, the dog, dashed o his master’s side through the rain of bullets and, with love and determination, he pulled the severely wounded man to safety. The dog only lost his grip once, when a bullet “creased” him from shoulder to flank. Right at the end, when his master was safe, another bullet penetrated the dog’s front legs, braking them.

Steif and Lieutenant von Wieland
Steif and Lieutenant von Wieland

Man and dog were rushed to the hospital and were both operated on. Wilhelm II, the German Kaiser (emperor) and king of Prussia came to their hospital bed and awarded each, man and dog, an Iron Cross ( military decoration instituted in 1813 by Frederick William III).

This is their true story, as told to Kaiser Willem II:

“Lieutenant von Wieland led a party of men in an attack on the Russian trenches. Seeing the task hopeless on account of the Russian fire, he, wounded, sent back the men who had set out with him and lay there in the blood and muck and filth of the battlefield: The Russian fire was so murderous that no one dared bring him in. Presently a dark form bounded from the German trenches, rushed to Lieutenant von Wieland’s side, grasped his coat between his teeth and, foot by foot, dragged him to safety. Once, but only for a moment, did he loosen his hold, and that was when a bullet creased him from shoulder to flank. The blood gushed from the wound, but the dog took a fresh hold and finished his job at the edge of the trench where willing hands lifted the lieutenant down to safety. They had to lift the dog down, too, because just then a bullet broke both his forelegs.”

WW1 True Story: Messenger dog Satan helped the Allied forces

Battle of Verdun took place between German and French soldiers on the Western Front between February and December in 1916, and more than 300,000 men lost their lives.

A section of French soldiers, outgunned and outnumbered, were ordered to hold out their area until reinforcements arrived. Yet days passed.

Their eyes cats on no man’s land, expecting death to rush towards them at any moment, the soldiers were stunned to see a blackish dog wearing a gas mask heading their way. Dog handler Duvalle recognized his boy, Satan, arriving with a vital message.

Satan the dog saved a contingent of French soldiers at the Battle of Verdun
Satan the dog saved a contingent of French soldiers at the Battle of Verdun

That’s when the German’s spotted Satan and opened all available fire on him in a desperate attempt to stop the messenger.

Duvalle called and encouraged his dog, urging him to push forward and directing him over the open death trap that was the battlefield, reminding him what they both learned during their training. The dog began running in a zigzag pattern to avoid the impact of the bullets.

Just meters before the French trenches two bullets found Satan causing the brave canine to crash in the dirt. His master could not take it and sprang from the trench, calling and encouraging his brave companion. ‘Satan – have courage my friend. For France!’ – were his last words yet they echoed into the dog’s heart who miraculously crawled to the French trenches, delivering his message of hope:

‘For God’s sake hold on. We will relieve you tomorrow.’

The astounded French soldiers noticed that Satan had been fitted with two wire cages to his harness, each containing a messenger pigeon. Quickly, an officer penned the co-ordinates of the German artillery onto two pieces of paper. Luckily, one pigeon made it through the German fire and back to the French HQ.

Only one hour later the German battery fell silent, minced by the French guns a short distance away.

‘The garrison was able to hold out until reinforcements came all because one hairy mongrel refused to die while his errand was still uncompleted and because he was too loyal to quit.’  (Albert Peyson Terhune, American War Reporter)

WW1 True Story: Taki, first war dog to carry messages for the Allies in World War 1

Taki was a Belgian Sheepdog (Belgian Malinois).

If you wonder, this is the difference between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois dog.
If you wonder, this is the difference between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois dog.

It was 1914 and the German troops, on their way to occupy UK, were rolling through Belgium. A unit of French Army found itself stranded between a river and the Germans. They were desperate to send message and call for reinforcements. Who will dare brave the bullets?

Taki, the youngest of the trained dogs volunteered. Or was chosen.

Messenger dogs training.
Messenger dogs training.

 A message was written in code and placed into a waterproof capsule that Taki had been trained to carry in her mouth. She left and everyone prayed.

Taki successfully went through the shell-worn fields, under a rain of Nazi bullets and poisonous gas and, soon enough, help arrived.

Messenger dog with its handler, in France, during World War I
Messenger dog with its handler, in France, during World War I

I hope you enjoyed the blog posts about dogs and the incredible help they gave during WW1.

Come back for new stories about the role of dogs during WW2 and so forth.

Do check out my book Joyful Trouble, A humorous read about an incredible dog and how he had found his true, yet unexpected calling. It is a book for all ages.

Joyful Trouble, Amazon Bestseller in eBook and paperback format
Joyful Trouble, Amazon Bestseller in eBook and paperback format

My adult fiction book, Silent Heroes, is a #1 New Release, a contemporary fiction novel,  filled with action and emotional twists and turns. “Silent Heroes” has a strong historical and cultural feel of the area when the action takes place, Afghanistan.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Faith Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Faith Are Worth Fighting for
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Amazing Roles dogs Played During WW1, part 3: Sled Dogs, Pulling Dogs via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #WW2 #sled #winter #snow

Dogs PULLING wheeled machine guns

Before the Great War, in some European countries such as Belgium and Netherlands, strong dogs were used to pull the milk carts.

Before the Great War this is what a dog-cart meant in Belgium. Source owlcation
Before the Great War this is what a dog-cart meant in Belgium. Source owlcation

Just a few years later and these dogs found roles within the military, pulling wheeled machine guns along with ammunition.

Remember that light weight machine guns have only been developed later during WW1, so mounting machine guns on dog drawn wagons added to their mobility and speed of deployment.

Belgium, WW1: dogs pulling wheeled machine guns. Source metropostcard
Belgium, WW1: dogs pulling wheeled machine guns. Source metropostcard

The Belgian soldiers were very attached to the dogs which drew their heavy “mitrailleuse” machine-guns.

The Belgian soldiers were very attached to the dogs which drew their mitrailleuse guns, Source owlcation
The Belgian soldiers were very attached to the dogs which drew their mitrailleuse guns, Source owlcation

Sled Dogs of WW1, Poilus D’Alaska, “The Infantry from Alaska”

Drawing from the harsh facts of the 1914 winter war in the Vosges mountains when the Allies battles through high snow with only men and horses to bring supplies of ammunition and food, by July 1915 the secret mission of getting together 400 sled dogs was already in place and running.

Poilus D’Alaska, "The Infantry from Alaska"
Poilus D’Alaska, “The Infantry from Alaska”

But where to find 400 sled dogs when the Allies barely had any military dogs, let alone canines used to trudge through snow?

Help eventually came from the famous musher (can drive a dog sled) Scotty Allan, “the sled dog whisperer”.

Quebec Telegraph, 2Nov 2015 - Scotty Allen to Help French Army
Quebec Telegraph, 2Nov 2015 – Scotty Allen to Help French Army

Scotty Allen became famous by winning sled dog races and even inspired Jack London’s popular book “White Fang.” René Robert Haas, another musher, also jumped on board.

A.A.”Scotty” Allan
A.A.”Scotty” Allan

An entire infantry of sled dogs was brought from Nome, Alaska, to France. This is how they traveled.

Poilus D’Alaska, "The Infantry from Alaska"
Poilus D’Alaska, “The Infantry from Alaska”

From Nome, Alaska, to Vancouver, Canada, the mushers and dogs traveled by boat. Them from Vancouver to Québec, all across Canada, by train.

Several poisoning attempts by German spies are recorded.

Once in Quebec Haas and Moufflet hid the dogs in a hangar while they look for a boat to sail them across the Atlantic. The hangar was located near an explosive-testing facility, so the dogs got used to explosions.

Haas and Moufflet were lucky, they found the last ship to leave Quebec before the St. Laurence River froze over. Thus, men and sled dogs arrived in Le Havre, France, on December 5, 1915.

Amazing roles dogs played during WW1, part 3: sled dogs and pulling dogs
Amazing roles dogs played during WW1, part 3: sled dogs and pulling dogs

Sadly, four dogs died during the Atlantic crossing and half died during the combat in the Vosges.

For the first time n war history, dogs were decorated with the” Croix de Guerre” for acts of heroism during combat.

Alaska sled-dogs serving in France, 1918
Alaska sled-dogs serving in France, 1918

Wars are never restrained to an area or to a moment in time. Wars are rooted in the past and throw their dark shadows far into the future.

It is amazing how Canadian dogs saved lives in Europe. French, Belgian, British descendants of the soldiers who fought in the Vosges mountains during WW1 owe their lives to the anonymous Canadian people who nurtured and raised the furry Poilus D’Alaska, “The Infantry from Alaska”.

I hope you read about the amazing dogs who helped WW1 soldiers in the trenches, as scouts, sentries or messengers. Come back to see some amazing WW1 and WW2 mascot dogs as well as discovering how dogs helped the soldiers further.

My latest book, Silent Heroes, is a work of fiction about the Military Working Dogs and the amazing Marines and local people caught in the War in Afghanistan.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
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Amazing Roles Dogs Played during WW1, part 2: Scouts, Sentries, Ambulance and Messenger Dogs via @patfurstenberg, #dogs #WW1 #history

During the Great War the military dogs first trained by military Scotsman Lt Col Edwin Hautenville Richardson proved invaluable as trench dogs. Other dogs of smaller size, did an amazing job as ratters.

Dogs used as scouts during WW1

These dogs were trained to point when an intruder was spotted (sniffed) and not bark since secrecy was the key to these missions. They could detect enemy scent up to 1000 yards away.

Scout dogs were trained to stiffen, raise their hackles and point their ail, thus indicated that an enemy was approaching.

Germans were the first to use scout dogs, sending them over no man’s land to spy on Allies’ positions.

Scout and dog patrol. Source metropostcard
Scout and dog patrol. Source metropostcard

Dogs used as sentries or guards

These dogs were invaluable especially during the night when they would prevent any night surprises coming from the enemy.

Either in the front lines, to guard against enemy incursions, or guarding important facilities or locations behind the lines together with their handler, dogs proved priceless.

A sentry dog watching after a soldier
A sentry dog watching after a soldier

They were trained to give a warning signal such as a growl, or snarl to indicate a suspect presence.

Sometimes dogs even worked alone in a trench, especially at night, to watch out for enemy activity while the humans rested.

Messenger dogs of WW1

Give their small size and speed, dogs soon proved to be much better at delivering messages than any human, especially when any other mean of communication was cut off or the battle was taking place in an inhospitable land, such as the jungles of Pacific Islands.

WW1 British messenger dogs and their handler
WW1 British messenger dogs and their handler

Dogs also braved the bullets, showing much determination in getting the job done.

The dogs were trained to ignore the fire of guns of all calibers, and were accustomed to the explosion of hand grenades near them.

A messenger dog during WW1
A messenger dog during WW1

Sometimes messenger dogs carried… other messengers.

Carrier pigeons in cages on back Airedales terrier WW1
Carrier pigeons in cages on back Airedales terrier WW1

Other dogs were trained as Ambulance or Casualty Dogs, Red Cross Dogs or Mercy Dogs

Although still informal, dogs helped a great deal during the Great War. It is believed that on both sides 10 000 dogs served in the Red Cross and these dogs undertook the most severe training.

A Red Cross dog trained to search for wounded soldiers while under fire, 1915.
A Red Cross dog trained to search for wounded soldiers while under fire, 1915.

One of my favorite pictures from the Great War depicts two canine buddies walking side by side, two Red Cross dogs.

The dogs were also trained to carry first aid and supplies for soldiers at the front - Getty source

Were they a team? One carrying medical supplies, the other one, with a gas mask on, trained to jump in the trenches, checking for the wounded soldiers? Were they taking strength from each other? Their body language tells me they were happy, determined on their task.

Germans were the first to begin training Ambulance Dogs, Sanitatshunde, in 1893.

A German Sanitatshunde - Red Cross Dog. WW1. Source Metropostcard
A German Sanitatshunde – Red Cross Dog. WW1. Source Metropostcard

“First Aid Dogs” were trained not to bark when they found a disabled soldier and to disregard dead soldiers. On locating a wounded soldier, the dog was trained to get close enough so that the soldier may open the first aid box the dog carried. Then the canine would tear a piece of the uniform or retrieve the soldier’s cap back to the kennel – to identify the fallen soldier.

A Red Cross dog taking a kepi from a wounded soldier back to the stretcher-bearer for identification of the wounded, The Great War
A Red Cross dog taking a kepi from a wounded soldier back to the stretcher-bearer for identification of the wounded, The Great War

Returned to the kennel the dog would bark and head back, showing he found an injured soldier.

Of course, this was in theory and real life situations forced a change in the way the Red Cross Dogs were trained as sometimes there was no cap and the loosest thing a dog chose to remove was often a bandage. Eventually dogs were fitted with a loose collar which they could grab and hold in their mouth as a sign they found a wounded soldier.

In the aftermath of a battle, the Red Cross dogs would localize the wounded and wait by their side for the stretcher bearers to arrive and pick up the soldier, transporting him to a hospital.

France, WW1. A training picture here shows a dog waiting for stretcher bearers where the wounded are lying. source doglowreporter
France, WW1. A training picture here shows a dog waiting for stretcher bearers where the wounded are lying. source doglowreporter

What is amazing is that dogs were indeed trained to recognize uniforms in order to tell friend from foe.

Mercy or Ambulance Dogs of WW1
Mercy or Ambulance Dogs of WW1

England, France, Russia and Germany – they all used military dogs trained for the the same purposes. And, true to their nature, the dogs often did more than it was expected from them.

Although some dogs were trained as messengers, when a buddy was in need they didn’t shied away from the task.

Prusco, a French dog that looked like a white wolf, is said to have saved more than a hundred men. On another occasion he dragged three wounded soldiers to a safe place, out of enemy fire, where they could wait to be removed from the battlefield.

The French war-dog Prusco was employed in carrying messages from a motor-cycle scout to headquarters. This dog and his companions penetrated the enemy lines on many occasions.
The French war-dog Prusco was employed in carrying messages from a motor-cycle scout to headquarters. This dog and his companions penetrated the enemy lines on many occasions.

Italians trained some of their dogs to carry ammunition over hard to reach mountain passes by means of a harness and strapped to their backs.

Dogs carrying ammunition strapped to their backs. Source metropostcard.
Dogs carrying ammunition strapped to their backs. Source metropostcard.

In France, WW1 saw the boom of the “Societe Nationale des Chiens Sanitaires” in France.

Allied soldier bandages the paw of a Red Cross medic-dog in Belgium, 1917.
Allied soldier bandages the paw of a Red Cross medic-dog in Belgium, 1917.

Of course, war propaganda was quick on picking up the civilian’s interest in war dogs, these silent heroes, and use it as this French postcards shows. This postcard (bellow) was banned in 1915 because censors felt its cruel spirit was demeaning to France.

French propaganda postcard of WW1
French propaganda postcard of WW1

So far we saw how the friendship between humans and dog started, some 26 000 years ago. we saw how dogs joined kings in battles and why dogs are so indispensable during war. We saw how dogs helped in the trenches. Next time we will look at dogs who pulled machine guns and sleigh and then at some mascot dogs of WW1 and WW2 as well as how the role dogs plaid during the Second World War changed. And we won’t stop there, so be sure to return and check new blog posts.

Do check out my book Joyful Trouble, A humorous read about an incredible dog and how he had found his true, yet unexpected calling. It is a book for all ages.

Joyful Trouble
Joyful Trouble, a book that reads like a movie

My adult fiction book, Silent Heroes, is a #1 New Release, a contemporary fiction novel,  filled with action and emotional twists and turns. “Silent Heroes” has a strong historical and cultural feel of the area when the action takes place, Afghanistan.

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg
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Amazing Roles Dogs Played During WW1, part 1: Dogs in Trenches and Ratter Dogs via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #war #trenches #ratters #history

Although still informal, dogs helped a great deal during the Great War.

“War is hell”, said Union Army General Sherman referring to the Civil War, but he could have just as well referred to the Great War, a war of trenches, these narrow vertical graves that, ironically, are traced back to the Civil War.

A war pup and his soldier friend
A war pup and his soldier friend

Stuck in them for weeks at a time, dealing with cold, wet feet, disease, “mustard gas” (a poisonous gas), dead bodies; trapped between bayonets and deadly bullets from “no man’s land”, soldiers had little to hope for.

Soon enough, the military dogs that accompanied some regiments proved that were able not only to lift the soldier’s moral, but to save lives at the same time.

Dogs in trenches during the Great War

During one night in the French front trenches all the dogs present became suddenly uneasy. They were growling and were extremely agitated.

The soldiers knew their army dogs and their body language so they telephoned the main entrenchment for reinforcement. Less than half an hour after support arrived, the Germans attacked.

How did the dogs knew? Have they heard the Germans preparing for an attack in their trenches?

Dogs can hear a wider frequency noises than humans.

When humans hear noises in the sound wave range of 64–23,000 Hz (bass to high pitched), dogs can hear in the range 67–45,000 Hz (a much wider frequency).

Added to this there is the loudness of the sound, measured in decibels and dogs can hear sounds so quiet (at 5-15 dB) that human can’t perceive them (a whisper measures at 20 dB).

Captain with dog in trenches 1914
Captain with dog in trenches 1914

What about the dog’s ability to smell?

Have they discerned a sudden increase in gun powder scent rising from the German trenches or a sudden increase in body odor due to a combination of excitement/fear ahead of an attack and added number of soldiers?

A dog’s nose is so sensitive that even scientists struggle to quantify it. It is estimated that a dog can smell between 1 000 to 100 000 times better than a human plus dogs can smell each component in an odor. In proportion to its size, a dog’s brain has an area dedicate to smell analysis that is four times bigger than that of the human’s brain.

Ratter dogs during WW1

We need to keep in mind that WW1 was a war fought in the trenches. Soldiers lived there for many weeks at a time, facilities were nearby, food was available, wounded or dead corpses were sometimes at close quarters.

A Scottish Regiment and their Ratter Dog in the trenches of WW1
A Scottish Regiment and their Ratter Dog in the trenches of WW1

Rats were a daily reality of WW1. Small dogs were therefor kept in the trenches as “ratters”. Soldiers living in trenches encountered millions of pests during war including rats They fed on rotting food because there was no proper way of getting rid of rubbish in trenches A terrier dog shows off its catch after a 15 minute rat hunt.

Soldiers living in trenches encountered millions of pests during war including rats They fed on rotting food bc there was no proper way of getting rid of rubbish in trenches A terrier dog shows off its catch after a 15 minute rat hunt -source BBC
Soldiers living in trenches encountered millions of pests during war including rats They fed on rotting food because there was no proper way of getting rid of rubbish in trenches A terrier dog shows off its catch after a 15 minute rat hunt -source BBC

We saw why dogs were so indispensable during the war, as well as some of the tasks they had performed during WW1.

Come back to find out more about World War 1 dog scouts, sentries, Red Cross, messenger, mascots as well as the World War 2 dogs.

Two of my books are about dogs at war.

Joyful Trouble is a book for all ages.

Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy
Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy – World War 2

Silent Heroes is adult fiction about the war in Afghanistan.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting
Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting
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Why dogs Were so indispensable during warfare AND how dog training began via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #wardogs #war

It was 1895 when Lt Col Edwin Hautenville Richardson, a Scot military man, noticed a German man buying a sheepdog from a shepherd.On engaging the two, Richardson learns that the German army was buying British collies to train and use in their own military service.

On engaging the two, Richardson learns that the German army was buying British collies to train and use in their own military service.

German Imperial Army
German Imperial Army

In the eve of WW1 Richardson and his wife Blanche Bannon, both dog lovers, were already training dogs. Soon the military asked them to begin a British War Dogs training school in Shoeburyness, Essex. The Richardsons trained hundreds of hounds for military service during both world wars.

Richardson particularly liked the Airedale Terrier.

Edwin Richardson trained Airedale terriers for the police in Glasgow before supplying canine recruits for World War One.
Edwin Richardson trained Airedale terriers for the police in Glasgow before supplying canine recruits for World War One.

“They’re very determined. They’re very single-minded and there’s no stopping them.”

Lt Col Edwin Hautenville Richardson

Right about this time, but a woman, her dog and her Harley-Davidson Motorcycle took the journey of a lifetime.

While in Europe Airedale Terriers were even taught to use gas masks as part of their military service.

Airedale Terriers were taught to use gas masks as part of their military service -Getty source
Airedale Terriers were taught to use gas masks as part of their military service -Getty source

The dogs were also trained to carry first aid and supplies for soldiers at the front.

“The dead and badly wounded are easily found; they lay where they fought; but the lightly wounded, those that had still strength to crawl and hunt shelter or water to quell their thirst, are the ones that te hospital corps is apt to miss. Speaking from the viewpoint of military efficiency these slightly wounded are the very soldiers that should be specially cared for, for on their speedy recovery they may prove in a long-drawn-out war the deciding factor that will end it, when they have again returned to the fighting line. Good Red Cross Dogs will quickly clear a battle-ground of all wounded soldiers.”

(Scout, Red Cross Army Dogs)
The dogs were also trained to carry first aid and supplies for soldiers at the front - Getty source
The dogs were also trained to carry first aid and supplies for soldiers at the front – Getty source

Richardson even paid unemployed locals to pretend being injured or dead people, lying around the dunes, and helping the dogs to train.

“We also served” is the special bandana of The Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland today.

"We also served" -The Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland today.
“We also served” -The Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland today.

Richardson’s contribution to the development of the military and Red Cross dog units was in-commensurable through his assiduous research, work and dedication towards canines. The first Army Dog School in England, at the start of The Great War, would not have been possible without his work.

Before his aid was required at the beginning of the Great War, the fame of Richardson’s highly trained dogs had reached far away, as proved by his services being required by Sultan Abdul Hamid, Empress Eugenie, of Bulgaria, the Abor expedition in India, the Gordon Highlanders, the Norfolk Regiment, and the King’s Durham Light Infantry, and Queen Mary on the eve of WW1.

Why were dogs so indispensable during warfare?

There is nothing like a dog’s loyalty and determination. Once a dog is taught a s skill, he will be happy to apply it to please his human master and friend.

It is our responsibility to be mindful of what we teach our dogs for they will do anything we ask them in order to make us happy.

A helpful dog
Helpful dog

Once a dog knows his destination he will get there at all costs. Pigeons cannot be sent in a fog or in the dark. Dogs will go in all weathers and at all times. During heavy bombardment by the enemy the casualties among the runners (soldiers sent to deliver messages) are heavy, especially when they have to cross n pen field where they are exposed to snipers, machine gun fire, or a heavy barrage. A runner would take two or three hours to do a journey from the trenches, while a dog only half an hour or less.

Richardson on training the his war dogs:

“The drill yesterday began with an obstacle race by a squad well advanced in training. Across the road were placed a barbed wire fence and a few yards further on a hurdle, and beyond that a barrier made of branches of trees. The dogs were taken about a mile up the road and then released. There was a great race for home. The bigger dogs leapt clear of all the obstructions; the smaller ones wriggled their way through; but two wily sheep dogs, strictly in accordance with the rules of the game preferred to leap a ditch and make a detour, arriving home as quickly as the others.

Novices who go astray in these and other test are never punished. They are caught by the keepers and gently led back for another try.”

Airedale Terriers of War
Airedale Terriers of War

Sadly, most of the Dog Messenger Service heroes are anonymous as officially they were known only by the numbers on the collars.

Dogs, the Silent Heroes of World War One

After some trial and error, medium sized dogs with grey or black fur were preferred, with good eyesight and “character”. Breeds varies, from a cross between a bulldog and a mastiff to German shepherds, retrievers, pointers and large Airedale terriers.

But above all, “character and training” was wanted.

We saw how dogs became man’s best friend.

How well dogs helped during the Great War and the Second World War we will see soon, as well as finding amazing stories about dog war mascots and other mongrels.

Do return to find out.

My latest book is‘Silent Heroes’, a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

It is a book extremely well researched, with authentic details and an epic sense of the place. The war and the military involved, Marines and dogs, are described with reverence, as are the civilians caught in the middle of the fire.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
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Women Writing About War via @PatFurstenberg #war #women #writerslife #literature #books

The question I was asked most often after publishing “Silent Heroes” was: why I wrote a book about war?

To me, “Silent Heroes” is a book that asked to be written. The idea behind it began to germinate in my mind long ago. It took over two years of research and assiduous work for this book to see the printing press.

Having lived through a Revolution and the fall of the Eastern Bloc, I can see that the power of historical knowledge is often overlooked. From my point of view, the situation in Afghanistan is of global interest. There are many similar historical hot spots throughout the world. My interest in the War in Afghanistan was stirred on understanding what a major influence the use of military dogs has on the lives of civilians. Most books written on this subject are from a military or political perspective. A retelling of true facts. I wanted to create a work of fiction that will appeal as well as stir emotions, something plausible, yet appealing to a wider category of readers.

We tend to read a book from the perspective of our own experiences. Some books, after reading them, manage to change the way we see our own life – and this is what I tried to achieve with “Silent Heroes”. Find out more about the symbolism behind its pages here.

I would rather have you ask me “why I wrote ‘Silent Heroes’, rather than “why I wrote a book on war”.

Women writers wrote about war many times over. But how many are know?

War is a part of life. As in life, there is fear in war, but there is also resilience and a raw lucidity in it.

War draws in all kinds of people, men and women, children and elderly, rich and poor. War stamps its tattoo on their lives, no questions asked, by killing their loved ones, by forcing them to relocate, to give up the mere life necessities in order to survive. To give up life, as they knew it, in order to stay alive.

Most war literature I came across during my lifetime and while researching for “Silent Heroes” and for “Joyful Trouble” before it was written by men. True accounts of battle and hardship. “War and Peace” by Russian author Leo Tolstoy must be the best known war novel. I have enjoyed Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and loved, for its epic descriptions and sensitivity in portraying human beings and raw emotions, Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” in which an entire generation was wiped out by the Civil War.

The question that inevitably rose was:

what is the major difference between a war story written by a woman and one written by a man?

And I don’t mean linguistic differences.

When reading a book written by a woman, I tend to feel closer to the author than when to a male author. I find their writing style more interactive. This aspect does not involve characters, but the overall feeling I get when reading -reading for pleasure.

Male authors tend to focus on conveying information, on the courage of the soldiers, on their super-human acts and vigor and less on the emotions that trigger or haunt them. On the intensity of their pain, the taste of their passion, the gut feeling.

From a sociology-cultural point of view we are a product of our upbringing and of the society we live in. Considering ideological factors and forces, we are a product of our interactions with and of our reactions to society. It is only normal that this will reflect in a writer’s work.

What about the communications style?

Will the fact that men and women have a different communication style reflect in their writing? Much like a piece of art or a music sheet reflect the author’s core structure.

On the other hand, writing is very much a products of our biographical reading. Which brings us back to our upbringing, influencing us in everything we do.

But since we only speak of the war theme here, I think that this difference shows in the type of relationships the characters tend to built with one another.

If you look at a novel as it would be a river, I tend to see a woman’s writing running smoothly, in a fluid movement, while a man’s is almost bubbling in it’s banks. But this is only my own imaginary.

War stories are a two way narrative.

War involves those who actively take part in it and those who are sucked in it, no choice given. Soldiers and civilians. And civilians, too, deserve to be heard. Their emotions should be given a voice, too.

But what if we don’t know if a book was written by a man or a woman? Would we still be able to spot the difference? And how will that knowledge influence our perception of the book?

Again, we only look at war books here.

We are past the women’s rise to prominence during the mid-nineteenth century and past the women’s rights movements.

Do women still need to prove themselves by writing about war?

War is a topic monopolized by men authors throughout the centuries.

Four years ago The Guardian published an interesting article, “Male writers continue to dominate literary criticism, Vida study finds“, VIDA being a group of volunteers interested in drawing attention to gender inequality in the field of book reviewing. The results of the study shows that men appeared 66 percent more often in The New York Times Book Review; three times more often in the London Review of Books; The Times Literary Supplement and others had worse numbers.

If reputable publications involved in book reviewing choose less books by women, will this influence the reader’s / buyer’s choice and view of books written by women?

My view on this subject may be biased as I am both a woman and a woman writer penning stories about war. Yet I feel that little is known about war stories written by women.

Amazing fiction books on war written by women

  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (for the vivid image of how much the American Civil War changed people’s lives and characters)
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (an entire generation changed by WW1)
  • The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam (for its hypnotic details of the Sri Lankan Civil War)
  • The Gold Lieutenant by Whitney Terrell (for depicting so truthfully the surviving nature of women during the Iraq War)
  • Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (filled with the human sensitivity that often escapes WW2 written by an author who, sadly, died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz)
  • Nella Last’s war by Nella Last, an inside view of WW2 from a civilian’s point of view.
  • The People of Forever are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu (a touching tale of teenagers’ experiences in the Israeli Defense Forces)
  • The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli (an amazing novel about the Vietnam War).
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (although an autobiography, is a must-read portrayal of the Holocaust)
  • Transcription by Kate Atkinson (a great spy novel of WW2)
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (a great historical fiction set during WW2 London)
  • Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian (an amazing WW2 read for children over the age of 10, especially boys)
  • A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert (set during the WW2 occupation of Ukraine and Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2018)
  • Good Evening, Mrs Craven: Wartime Stories by Mollie Panter-Donnes (short stories written during WW2)
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht (set during in an unnamed Balkan country experiencing a rebirth after the collapse of communism).
  • Can you Hear the Nightbird Call? by Anita Rau Badami how three women survive the rise of the Sikh separatists in India).
  • Sparta by Roxana Robinson (about a war veteran’s battle with PTSD after the Iraq War).
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (for the humanity shared by different cultures when held hostage by terrorists)
  • Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg (on the strong connections between US Marines and the Afghan civilians during the Afghanistan War).
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