Dogs at War
Recently restoring an old photo of a World War 2 soldier and his dog my mind wandered to the role mans best friend has played in man made conflict over the years. From as far back as the Roman times dogs have accompanied man in to war and there role is not to be underestimated. The fact remains that no other animal has made such a telling contribution because unlike horses, whose main role was transportation, dogs have assisted in a multitude of tasks from intelligence gathering to bomb detection to frontline assault and capture.
Being a dog lover I must admit I found some of the stories I read about the role dogs have played in war over the years quite distressing. My experience of most dogs I’ve come in to contact with is that they are extremely loyal servants and no matter how badly they are treated they will maintain that loyalty. It’s a testament to that loyalty that no matter how horrific their end may have been there is no questioning that given their time again they would still tread the same path.
In this first picture we have a group of American Marines during the Vietnam conflict walking along with their dogs. These dogs were used to sniff out booby traps and hidden trenches and no doubt saved thousands of soldiers lives. Such was the nature of the Vietnam war that many dogs lost their lives with most of them falling victim to the many booby traps they were there to identify.
The second picture shows a German Shepherd dog during World War 2. A stunning fact is fifty thousand dogs were deployed during the second world war by both sides and almost none returned. Although on a lighter note a German Shepherd dog by the name of Chips was briefly awarded the silver star for attacking an enemy gun emplacement in Sicily. Chips was shot in the attack but amazingly managed to suppress the six enemy soldiers in the placement until allied soldiers came to his assistance. Unfortunately Chips had his silver star revoked because the establishment felt it was derogatory to award an animal but Chips received the ultimate reward when he returned safely to the family that donated him after the war and lived out the rest of his life in the relative comfort of his New York home. As the facts show, the vast majority of his brothers and sisters weren’t so fortunate.
An important consideration also is that one cannot underestimate these losses can have on the frontline soldier. Like the loss of a family pet the loss of these canine comrades is often a crushing blow. They truly are loyal servants and most importantly mans best friend in times of need. Dogs at war we salute you.
By Brent Di Cesare