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

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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5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for via @PatFurstenberg #travel #castle #monument #history #culture

5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes

Whenever I read a book depicting real locations, actual places I can find on a map, a novel in which genuine artwork is described, and tangible, concrete buildings I know I can also visit are part of its setting, I tend to be more immersed in its story-line. The storytelling becomes more credible and, if by chance or choice, I visit those place I find myself immersed in that particular book again and, often, I pick it up and read it again.

On researching location for my latest novel, “Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” I discovered a few sensational places; some new to me, secrets buried by history and war, others I have heard of but had not known how inspirational and amazing they were. I know, now, that I’d like to visit them all, one day when traveling to Afghanistan for tourism will be a safe endeavor once again.

1. Buddhas of Bamyan

The two Buddhas of Bamyan - the taller and the smaller one, as they once stood since their construction around 500AD and before the Taliban attack in March 2001
The two Buddhas of Bamyan – the taller and the smaller one, as they once stood since their construction around 500AD and before the Taliban attack in March 2001 – Source Wikipedia

“The Taliban did not succeed in wiping out the two Buddhas, but they became unrecognizable as the figures they once were. A cultural, religious, historical and entomological symbol and landmark.
It was a bleak day in human history when something that watched over the valley for 1 500 years was destroyed in a matter of weeks.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

The Buddhan of Bamyan were two colossal statues carved during the 6th century into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley, once along the Silk Road, in the central highlands of Afghanistan, 230 km NW of Kabul, its capital city.

The bodies of the Buddhas were carved in the mountain cliff, while delicate details have been modeled out of mud and straw and coated with stucco for resistance. The faces, hands, and folds of the Buddhas’ robes were painted for an enhanced effect. The big Buddha, 53 m tall, was painted carmine red while the smaller Buddha, 35 m tall, was painted in multiple colors. They represented the Buddhas Vairocana and Sakyamuni.

“Taliban forces operating in Afghanistan had destroyed these colossal statues in March 2001. They started by damaging the Buddha with anti-aircraft firearms and cannons. Yet the damage inflicted was not enough for the Taliban. They returned with anti-tank mines that they placed at the statues bases. When sections of rock broke off, the statues suffered further damage.

And still, they did not stop here.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001. Source Wikipedia
Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001. Source Wikipedia

“The Taliban dropped men down the face of the cliff. They had placed explosives into the various grooves found in the Buddhas. The plan was clear, to completely destroy the facial features of the two statues. Maybe a bad understanding of the Quran: Islam condemns idolatry. When one of the blasts could not destroy the facial features of one statue, a rocket was used in its place. It left a hideous gap in whatever was left of the Buddha’s head.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Source, Wikipedia
Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Source, Wikipedia

But there is hope.

7 June 2015: Xinyu Zhang and Hong Liang , a Chinese adventurist couple, created a 3D image of the Buddhas and donated projector used for the installation, worth at $120 000. The 3D projection was able to fill once more the void cavities where the two majestic Buddhas once stood.

2. Qala-e Bost Fortress

“Qala-e-Boost or Bost Fort is the remnant of Alexander the Great’s Fortress in Afghanistan. What still stands today from this millennial old fortress is an impressive ruin. Helmand’s crown jewel is located on the east bank of the Helmand River, near Lashkar Gah, a city in southwestern Afghanistan and the capital of Helmand Province.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

Lashkargah, or Lashkar Gah, means “army barracks” in Persian language.

Qala-e-Bost, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia
Qala-e-Bost, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia

“The stones of Qala-e-Boost have seen wars as well as the joys of celebrations. They have known wealth and ruin. Early hymns of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the oldest religions in the world, were once performed here. One of them was the Nowruz, the famous ceremony dedicated to the Sun and marking the Iranian New Year and the Spring Equinox. Along the years Bost fortress has been used as a guard post for the traditional caravan trade from Iran to India. The Mongols, then the Persians have been here too, then the Arabs, even the Russians. Leaders and warriors came here as attested by the terracotta figurines, the inscribed seals, and the many coins discovered here, and then they left. Still, Bost remained.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
The famous arch at Qala-i-Bust or Bost, in Helmand. Source Wikipedia
The famous arch at Qala-i-Bust or Bost, in Helmand. Source Wikipedia

” At noontime, the sun spat yellow venom over the desert surrounding the ruins of the Qala-e-Bost fortress, over this war-cursed land where a misconceived culture and an overpowering international necessity to meddle fatalistically merged, long-stalling the Afghan peace process.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

What is amazing about Qala-e-Bost Fortress is not what is visible above the ground, but what is hidden underneath, the entire Bost castle, 5 levels, being in the shape of a well hidden underground.

Qala-e-Bost Fortress as seen in“Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for"
Qala-e-Bost Fortress as seen in“Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for”

“As an eerie glow spread over the flat expanse of sand, from his high point Marcos caught a glimpse of what Qala-e-Bost’s crumbling walls would have been in its time of glory. No longer a ghostly silhouette, a mere reminder of an existence long forgotten, but a castle again.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

I researched so much about this underground castle that stood the test of time. It would be incredible to walk its corridors, to see the light bouncing from the walls of its shaft, to hear the echoes of history as it was buried in its secret rooms.

3. An Afghan garden

Gardening says a lot about the nurturing abilities of a person. When an entire population has a gift for gardening it means that they have peace in their hearts and know the value of life.

An Afghan garden
An Afghan garden

I was amazed to discover how much gardening means to the Afghan people and how connected they are to their roots, to the soil of Afghanistan, nurturing or arid. How inventive the Afghans proved to be, making the best out of each situation, when it comes to gardens.

I tried to depict their nurturing nature in the pages of “Silent Heroes“.

“Afghans are gardeners at heart, did you know? Before they are mujahideen or insurgents or Taliban-bloody-criminals, they love to garden.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

4. A Military Base in Afghanistan

Military camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia
Military camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia

During the two years plus it took me to research and write “Silent Heroes” I researched in depth the living conditions of the US Marines deployed in Afghanistan and of all the military fighting there.

2012 army photo competition.Amateur Portrait category runner-up Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West.Picture Captain Richard Willing MoD Crown Copyright via Getty Images
Army Photographic Competition 2012. In this handout image supplied by the Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright, photo entitled ‘LIGHTNING AND HIS HANDLER’, depicting Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West. (Army Amateur Portrait category runner up; Photo by Captain Richard Willing/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images)

What is outstanding is the level of organization and, at the same time, the little comfort these amazing soldiers put up with every day in order to do their duty towards their own countries and to keep peace for us all.

And anything reminding them of home is treasured. Like the small American flag in the image below.

A U.S. Marine looks out from his post in September at Bost airfield in Helmand province. Andrew Renneisen-Getty Images
A U.S. Marine looks out from his post in September at Bost airfield in Helmand province. Andrew Renneisen-Getty Images

“Between the building and the sheet of the tent was a corridor-wide enough for a human to pass through, two would have to negotiate. From a drain pipe facing the main door hung a small size American flag, the one civilians wave on the 4th of July, its sole purpose of connecting them with home.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

5. A field of poppies

In Afghanistan, poppies – opium poppies – mean death and poverty. I, “Silent Heroes” I tried to explain the vicious cycle that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan means. It was fascinating to learn how it started, why, and what its consequences meant for the Afghan population as well as internationally.

A soldier walking past a poppy field in Afghanistan
A soldier walking past a poppy field in Afghanistan

“The hamlet’s reputation of frightfulness came from the complete lack of vegetation. As if the poppy field that once flourished nearby sucked away any drop of water that might have concentrated in the adjacent earth, like some type of incongruous alien.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

International affairs and their local implications are never as simple as they appear at the beginning.

“So ‘The Golden Triangle’ (Burma, Thailand, Laos) was soon replaced by ‘The Golden Crescent’ (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran).”

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
World Map Opium Heroin. Golden Triangle. Golden Crescent. Source Wikipedia
World Map Opium Heroin. Golden Triangle. Golden Crescent. Source Wikipedia

Still, there is something magical about a field of poppies. I think that poppies seeds, with their ability to remain dormant throughout the years, are a fantastic representation of what hope and resilience is all about. Never give up.

Maybe because poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day. Why? Scarlet poppies (popaver rhoeas) grow naturally in conditions of disturbed, arid earth throughout the world. Poppies grew naturally after the Napoleonic wars of the 19th Century and again on battlefields of WW1.

An old, happy short-haired pointer dog in a poppy field at sunset
An old, happy short-haired pointer dog in a poppy field at sunset

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

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields”

I hope you enjoyed reading about the five locations that inspired and amazed me while writing “Silent Heroes“.

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

Do you have a favorite place you read about in a book?

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Red Poppy Haiku via @PatFurstenberg #Remembrance2018 #LestWeForget #ThankYou100 #RemembranceDay2018 #ArmisticeDay100

Red Poppy Haiku via @PatFurstenberg Remembrance Day 2018 #LestWeForget #ThankYou100 #ArmisticeDay100

They went with a song,

Buried their dreams in green grass.

Red poppy in hand.

~

God Bless all of our soldiers.

Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I. Armistice Day took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year.

~

You can read more haiku on my website here.

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