Silent War Heroes

Silent War Heroes, #SilentHeroes

Throughout the world wars unknown humans and animals -dogs, horses- selflessly and honorably give their lives to save the existence of thousands of unknowns. The millions of soldiers’, pilots’, sailors’ bravery and ingenuity should always be remembered.

They went with a song,

Buried their dreams in green grass.

Red poppy in hand.

(Armistice Day 100 Haiku)

With reverie, amazement and a pang in the heart I learned about the millennial support that canines bestowed on us, humans. Read more here:

Dogs, Man’s Best Friend, as Illustrated by Art, From Once Upon a Time to the 20th Century
Dogs joined Kings in battles, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, the First Anglo-Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War
Why dogs Were so indispensable during warfare AND how dog training began
Amazing Roles Dogs Played During WW1, part 1: Dogs in Trenches and Ratter Dogs
Amazing Roles Dogs Played during WW1, part 2: Scouts, Sentries, Ambulance and Messenger Dogs
Amazing Roles dogs Played During WW1, part 3: Sled Dogs, Pulling Dogs
Amazing, True Stories of WW1 Dogs #LestWeForget
Dog Mascots of WW1 and Their Cute Faces
British Dogs of WW2, the Amazing, the Cute and the Incredible
American Dogs of WW2, the History of the First K9 Unit, Cappy, Chips and Daisy
Paradogs, the Flying Dogs of War
The Soviet Union, German and Japanese War Dogs of WW2
War Dogs History after WW2 to the Fall of Berlin Wall
Military Working Dogs of Gulf War, Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan

During WWII dogs from the “War Dog Training School” near London often gave soldiers, besides loyalty and a trusted and brave companionship, a feeling of home away from home:

WWI was fought mainly in the trenches, hand to hand, face to face, man against man. Civilians knew little of direct war consequences as bomber aircrafts were yet to be developed.

The AVRO 504, one of the 65 airplanes Britain entered the WWI with on Aug 4 1914 had a 80h.p engine. Allies had 220 aircrafts against Germany’s 260.

World War 1 propaganda– dogs were trained to enter No Man’s Land at night to locate fallen soldiers…

1st British airplane, B.E.1, built in 1911 at Balloon Factory (now Farnborough Factory) from a crashed Blerion monoplane. 3years later Britain was flying to war against Germany.

Most popular WWIdogs were medium-sized: Doberman Pincers, German Shepherds.

1911:the Wolsey engine of a Voisin 60h.p donated by Duke of Westminster to the War Office was used as the engine of 1st B.E.1 plane Britain went into WW1 with.

A sentry dogs would growl or bark to alert his duty soldier when a stranger approached.

The very early British planes of WWI had 70 h.p Renault engines, 70 mph speed at ground level, a petrol tank enough for a 3hrs flight and could rise to 10 000ft. 

The Renault engine from which the 1A was developed:

The Renault engine from which the 1A was developed - from warbirdtails.s
The Renault engine from which the 1A was developed – from warbirdtails.

Military dogs were used as night message bearers during war due to their excellent night vision.

red cross dog WWI- foreignpolicy
red cross dog WWI- foreignpolicy

Early British planes of WW1 could carry a load of 100 lbs & a crew of 2 armed with hand grenades, riffles, pistols… one of which still had to fly the plane.

1915 british - Airco DH.2, a rugged and nimble design, helped to win back Allied air superiority by 1916 - source militaryhistory
1915 british – Airco DH.2, a rugged and nimble design, helped to win back Allied air superiority by 1916 – source militaryhistory

War dogs of WW1 were trained to hunt cat size rats that lived in the trenches.

WW1-medical military dogs
WW1-medical military dogs

Britain fought most of WWI with its Royal Flying Corps and its Royal Naval Air Service. The RAF, Royal Air Force, was formed only on the 1st of April 1918.

Royal Air Force RAF - source greatwarlondon
Royal Air Force RAF – source greatwarlondon

If a problem occurred, war messenger dogs had to be able to solve it on their own to still deliver that message.

messenger-dogs-in-training - source alpinepub.files
messenger-dogs-in-training – source alpinepub.files

1st rudimentary WWI planes used in scouting missions behind enemy lines forced an improvement in anti-aircraft guns, which in turn evolved planes’ power, their climb speed and defense systems on board.  This is how fighter planes were born.

Early pusher style aircraft, like this British Airco DH-1, were no match for single seat scouts designed specifically for air to air combat. source
Early pusher style aircraft, like this British Airco DH-1, were no match for single seat scouts designed specifically for air to air combat. source

During the war, dogs provided great comfort to those fighting&living in trenches, providing a bit of home feeling and lots of affection to them.

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
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

When WWI started, British air squadrons had 3days to prepare for action – meet at Dover from all over Britain & fly to France, to war, on 12August 1914…

Terrier dogs made great mascots during war, lifting the troops moral… & hunting rats.

Terrier dog, war mascot 1918
Terrier dog, war mascot 1918

1st RFC recorded casualty were Lt. R.R. Skene, ‘Robi’, age 23, and his observer, Air-Mechanic R.K. Barlow of 3rd Squadron during an air crash in a Bleriot aircraft on Aug.12, 1914

Over 53,000 dogs served in World War One.

On the night before taking off for France at the very beginning of WWI, British pilots slept beside their airplanes, in portable timber & canvas hangers.

St Stubby was an American WW1 #dog who saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks.

Original caption: Washington, DC: Meet up with 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

Lt. Harvey-Kelly of 2nd Squadron was the 1st British pilot to take off for France @ outbreak WW1. He took a shortcut & landed before his CO – this got him into trouble

a British messenger dog cca 1918.

One of the first WW1 British pilots to take off for France, Lt R.M. Vaughan, did an emergency landing @ Boulogne, was arrested by French authorities & imprisoned 1week… redtape

Sadly, approx. 8million horses & 1million dogs died during WW1

bully beef, bread & biscuits were the ration of WW1 soldiers.”Sing me to sleep, the bullets fall Let me forget the war & all Damp is my dugout, cold is my feet Nothing but biscuits & bully to eat.”

War propaganda often went both ways…

Pilot Norman Spratt on an unarmed scout Sopwith 1seater plane, forced a German plane to land by circling around it.

war #dogs in outpost duty were trained not to bark, only prick their ears…#silentheroes#InternationalVolunteerDay

Lt Leefe-Robinson brought down the 1st German Zeppelin that fell on British soil at Hertfordshire during WW1-he attached it from above with incendiary bullets.

Dogs were also used to transport equipment and wounded soldiers.

2nd Lt Wulstan Tempest brought down a German Zeppelin L31 firing with one hand, while hand-pumping petrol in his own malfunctioning open aircraft- at 15000 ft

Bloodhounds & airedales were trained to find wounded soldiers on battlefields during WW1

Sec.Lt .Tempest on a Zeppelin going up in flames: “got red inside like an enormous Chinese lantern, shot up 200feet, paused and shot past me, roaring like a furnace”

WW1 dogs were often equipped with gas masks for protection…

To intercept German Zeppelins over North Sea during WW1 Bristol Scout single-seater biplanes were ready 4take off fr. carrier Vindex. However,they could not land back on it-so they were fitted wt.airbags to land on water & hoisted aboard the carrier.

A soldier and his beloved and trusted companion, a war dog.

Lacking maps & satellite, first WW1 pilots flew in reconnaissance missions reporting back on movements & position of enemy troops via primitive radios

A dogcart had a different meaning in Belgium during WW1

WW1: beginning of photo.reconnaissance is done by holding cameras over the side of the airplane & changing the photo plate after each shot.

Belgian soldiers used dogs to help them pull their heavy mitrailleuse guns (machine guns)

Early WW1 bombing raids were done wt. rudimentary reconnaissance airplanes: pilots dropped the bombs by hand, “hand jobs”.

dropping bombs by hand – beginning WW1-iwm, courtesy Imperial War Museum

During WW1 dogs were seen as mascots in US army. Only during WW2 were they used officially and so the term “wardogs” was born.

WW1 dog and his soldier – courtesy

Unlike WW1, in #WW2 countries involved used airplanes distinctive to their own culture & scientific progresses.

A WW2 Spitfire, courtesy

Dog breads favored in WW2 were German shepherd, Belgian sheepdog, doberman pinscher, collies, huskies, Malamutes & Eskimo dogs.

WW2 US dogs and their handler soldiers, courtesy

After DDay volunteers with RAF cleaned old fuel tanks, filled with beer & flew them to the soldiers fighting in Normandy, as a reward

Spitfire – Volunteers with the Royal Air Force had old fuel tanks steam-cleaned and filled with beer. They then flew them over to the men in Normandy – source

The military working dog Butch, a doberman pinscher, watches while his handler, U.S. Marine Private Rez Hester, naps on the embattled island of Iwo Jima, WW2.

Butch the doberman pinscher stands watch while his handler, U.S. Marine Private Rez Hester, sleeps on the embattled island of Iwo Jima – source warfarehistorynetwork.

Spitfire, single-seat WW2 RAF fighter aircraft, got its name from a pet-name the factory chairman had for his daughter.

Spitfire, source militaryhistory

Dobermans were USMC official dogs, labeled “Devil Dogs” from the German nickname given to the American Marines during WW1.

ww2-The-dogs-of-devil-dogs-a-history-of-Canine-Marines – source USMClife

During WW1, at the Battle of Somme, the British used tanks for the 1st time ever, causing panic among the German troops.

Come WW2 and Russians use dogs as anti-tank missiles. Sadly…

ww2 – exploding dogs were used as anti tan device, sadly.

Christmas Truce, Weihnachtsfrieden, Trêve de Noël, took place during 24-25 December 1914: British, French & German crossed the trenches to exchange greetings and play soccer.

Illustrated London News – the Christmas Truce 1914 – source wikipedia

During WW1: Eskimo dogs were brought from North America to help the French soldiers fighting in the Vosges mountains of the Alps .

Alaska sled dogs in the Vosges mountains during WW1 – source Best of upper rhine.

“On New Years Eve we called across to tell each other the time and agreed to fire a salvo at 12.” (wrote home Karl Aldage, a German WW1 soldier)

1917, WW1, winter in the trenches.

Winter 1914 during WW1: the high level snow in the Vosges mountains made transport of food, warm clothes and ammunition to the soldiers and the removal of the wounded impossible without the help of snow dogs.

1917, Chiens de l’Alaska – Alaska sled dogs in the Vosges during WW1Alaska-source best of upper rhine.

No Christmas Truce took place during WW2 although a German woman, Elisabeth Vincken, sheltered and fed three US soldiers and four German ones, all lost and hungry. Nearby the Battle of the Bulge was taking place. It was Christmas Eve, Heiligabend 1944.

Battle of the Bulge-American British Candian Belgian French forces – source articles on life photos.

WW1 : snow dogs in the Vosges mountains transported 300kg/120km/1day

Sled dogs helped win world war – source pethealthnetwork.

WW1: New Year’s Eve: there were very few ways of celebrating the New Year. The Scots played their bagpipes and German troops the harmonica. It was a cold night in the trenches.

New Year Eve bagpipes. Over 1000 pipers died during WWI. These amazing men were “sitting ducks” as they went over the top of the trench to pipe their men into battle.

Even 75 yrs later Marine Corps wardog handler Pvt. Homer J. Finley, Jr. still remembers his dogs…

Jan with handler Pvt Finley.

New Year 1914 in the trenches of WW1: soldiers toasted with grog they brewed themselves. Scots Guards played elegies on their bagpipes.

ww1-newyear postcard – source metropostcard

“Poilus d’Alaska” was a secret WW1 mission that brought 400 Alaskan dogs to France to aid the soldiers in winter.

Poilus d’ Alaska chiens traineau – trained snow dogs

WW1, winter of 1914- the Christmas Day football truce game between #Germans and the British was won 2-1 by Germans. It was started by a soccer ball kicked from a British trench and ended by two German snipers.

Armistice Day football match at Dale Barracks between German soldiers and Royal Welsh fusiliers to remember the famous Christmas Day truce between Germany and Britain -source PCH

Chips was a Collie–German Shepherd–Siberian Husky mix. He was the military working dog decorated the most during World War 2.

Chips: Collie–German Shepherd–Siberian Husky mix who was the most decorated dog in World War II – source dogtime.


Do you enjoy war stories and perhaps love dogs? Have a look at my book Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy, a World War Two story, available from Amazon in eBook, paperback and large print format – read FREE on Kindle Unlimited. See a preview bellow.

What readers have to say about “Joyful Trouble”:

5 STARS: “the spirit of the dog is brought to life by the author’s lively storytelling. I fell in love with the enthusiastic puppy and wanted to know how he got his name.”

5 STARS: “Being a dog person myself, I absolutely loved this book. I laughed with this book and shed a tear or two as well. Overall this was a quick and very delightful read. Even though this book is tagged as a children’s book, I would recommend it to all.”

5 STARS: “I love this book and it made me happy” (Review from 10 year old, who completely loved this warm and touching story).

Do return to this page for more war stories. 

The images used are are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

41 Replies to “Silent War Heroes”

  1. I was impressed by your bio (About), Pat. Congrats on the amazing resume and success with your books. So much of this (the pain and loss of war) is sad to me. My heart goes out to the young soldiers and the loyal dogs who’ve populated the battle lines for over a century. When I was researching cavalries for one of my books, I was astonished by the number of horses that fell in war, until the advent of machine guns which made charging on horseback obsolete. I have a feeling that dogs will be fighting beside our soldiers for a long time.

    1. Thank you so much, Diane. You are most kind. Work is not a chore when one enjoys it, isn’t it?
      I do remember the cavalry, sadly so long before animals had any rights recognized. I often wonder if it is fair towards the dogs, as they don’t have a saying. But then I know that they would simply jump to be at the side of their human friends. And this simple union is enough for them.

  2. A great post, Pat, with some fabulous old photos Having read and thoroughly enjoyed your book, Silent Heroes, I know how much you love this topic (and dogs!) and how much research you must have done. I’m glad to see how well your book is doing for you. I’ve yet to read Joyful Trouble. 😀

  3. Thank you so much, Millie.
    I think stories creep into our mind and take over 🙂 Isn’t it 🙂
    Silent Heroes started with such tiny bits of history.

  4. Now, they’re experimenting with dogs to detect the COVID virus. If this is successful, these dogs will become an invaluable part of our health security too.

    1. Yes! I read about this, how incredible is it? Bio-detection dogs. And still remain safe. I love it 🙂
      They say dogs can detect a spoonful of sugar in a two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

      Thank you for your thoughts, Charly 🙂 Stay safe.

  5. Couldn’t find your doors today (April 1), but no regrets, this is an AWESOME post and you did much research to put this one together! Thank you. In the past, man looked differently at things than now! Have a wonderful Easter! Jesh

    1. Thank you for looking around my blog, Jesh 🙂 Yeah, Research is my middle name 😉 So glad you enjoyed this one.

      My doors page is not up yet – because of research! 🙂

      Have a blessed weekend.

  6. I am very very impressed with your Bio !You are an amazing writer so full of talent in multiple disciplines!Your quote-‘I love to explore the human imagination. I am a tourist of history, a permanent guest in the labyrinth of books, a student in the world of art.’ ! i will go through all your blogs soon.By the way thanks for the follow!

    1. Goodness, thank you so much!! I do hope you will enjoy my posts!
      Sorry for the late reply, somehow WP place a few comments in the Spam folder this week, and yours was there too. But I saved them 😉
      Great pleasure following your travel blog too 🙂

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