I can easily imagine sled dogs, even during WW1, but pulling dogs? How were they different and, mostly, what were they pulling?
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.
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.
The Belgian soldiers were very attached to the dogs which drew their heavy “mitrailleuse” machine-guns.
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.
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”.
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.
An entire infantry of sled dogs was brought from Nome, Alaska, to France. This is how they traveled.
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.
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.
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.