Animals in War Did you know.........?

February 17th, 2005  

Topic: Animals in War Did you know.........?

Did you know...............

Dogs.Red Army soldiers strapped bombs to dogs to blow up German tanks. The plan was abandoned when the dogs were attracted to Russian vehicles because that's where they were fed.

Camels.Camels were used as mobile water tankers during the march of Khalid b. al Walid's army from Iraq to Syria. They were forced to drink their fill then were slaughtered as needed and the water drunk from their bellies.

Parrots.During WW1 parrots perched on the Eiffel Tower could give 20 minutes warning of incoming aircraft. The practice was stopped when parrots couldn't discriminate between German and Allied aircraft.

Oxen.At the seige of Jimo in 279BC, the defending commander dressed oxen in silk costumes to make them look like dragons with burning straw tied to their tails. The attackers fled.

Extracts from the book Essential Militaria, by Nicholas Hobbes, Atlantic books
February 17th, 2005  
Doesn't the Isreali army still use attack dogs for Urban warfare?
February 17th, 2005  
Most armies use dogs in multiple roles.
Some still use mules in mountains eg.Indian, Pakistani and Chinese armies.
The Indian Border Security Force (its a para military border police force) still depends on camels for patrolling the vast Thar desert on the Indo-Pak border.
February 17th, 2005  
Whispering Death
I don't believe your information about dogs destroying significant numbers of friendly tanks is correct. They stopped used them when the germans figued out what was going on and layed off with all their machine guns when they saw a dog running at them.
February 17th, 2005  
I'm not sure, but I think I've heard about dolphins that are or were used to destroy submarines or clear underwater minefields ot something like that.
February 17th, 2005  
Charge 7
Did you know that the most highly decorated war animal was a pidgeon? "Cher Ami" was a registered Black Check Cok carrier pigeon, one of 600 birds owned and flown by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France during World War I.

He delivered 12 important messages within the American sector at Verdun, France. On his last mission, "Cher Ami," shot through the breast by enemy fire, managed to return to his loft. A message capsule was found dangling from the ligaments of one of his legs that also had been shattered by enemy fire. The message he carried was from Major Whittlesey's "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Infantry Division that had been isolated from other American forces. Just a few hours after the message was received, 194 survivors of the battalion were safe behind American lines .

"Cher Ami" was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre" with Palm for his heroic service between the forts of Verdun. He died in 1919 as a result of his battle wounds.

You can read a detailed account of him here:
February 17th, 2005  
In WWII the Marines used War Dog Platoons.
February 17th, 2005  
Charge 7
War dogs are still used by more than just the Marines.

After more than half a century of service - and despite a record of documented heroism and american lives saved - one group of U.S. veterans has been accorded no honor in our nation's capital.

Thousands of dogs who served with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard have been denied a monument in Washington, D.C. In 2000 their fellow veterans sought permission to commemorate their service with a single tree at Arlington National Cemetary. That request was denied.

Most Americans know nothing of the record of their war dogs - to say nothing of the one of the last chapters of their saga, which some consider a loss of honor.

Like so many great American stories, the history of our war dogs began with a small act of rebellion. In WWI, the British, Belgian, Italian, and French Armies trained thousands of dogs as sentries and messengers or to find and comfort wounded men on the battlefield. On the other side, the Germans deployed 7000 dogs, with thousands more in reserve. (The famous Rin Tin Tin was a German dog found in a trench after an attack.) But the U.S. Army had no such program. Nevertheless, a small stray bull terrier named "Stubby" was adopted by the 102nd Infantry and smuggled aboard a troop ship bound for France. There he would prove his mettle.

Stubby carried messages under fire, sought out the wounded and stayed with them until help arrived. One night in February 1918, he roused a sleeping sergeant to warn of a gas attack, giving soldiers time to don their masks. On sentry duty, he clamped his teeth into a German infiltrator, who was then captured. In no-man's-land he was wounded by shrapnel but recovered to rejoin the 102nd in battles at Chateau Thierry, the Marne, and the Meuse-Argonne. The men of the 102nd hung a Victory Medal from his collar. French women fashioned a blanket for "The Hero Dog" to wear, and with each offensive, more medals were pinned to Stubby's cloak.

After 17 battles, Stubby sailed back to America, where his victorious commander, Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, awarded the dog a special gold medal. As a life member of both the American Legion and the Red Cross, Stubby marched in parades across the country and met Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge. When old age felled the warrior in 1926, his body was preserved and displayed for 30 years at the Red Cross Museum in Washington, D.C. But time wore away his skin, his fur and the memory of his countrymen: Stubby moldered thereafter in a packing crate in a Smithsonian storeroom. Still his legacy endured in the thousands of lives saved by dogs in subsequent American wars.

Within a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, America's canine trainers had established DFD - Dogs For Defense - and soon began to work with the Coast Guard (saboteurs were expected to surface from submarines at any moment). By April 1942, dogs were serving as sentries at Army depots and defense plants. That summer, Secretary of War Henry Stimson directed all branches of the service to explore the use of dogs, and the rush was on - for dogs to work as guards, medics, MPs, mine-sniffers, scouts, messengers, even tactical fighters; for dogs to walk patrol in Pacific jungles and mush supplies across Arctic ice. One year after America went to war, the military announced that the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard would need about 125,000 dogs.

Canine combatants were recruited just as men were. But no draft was required. Thens of thousands of dogs were shipped voluntarily to DFD centers, where they were measured, evaluated, examined and trained for duty. A few owners may have fobbed off bad pets, but most were patriots who sent a dog off to war just as they would a son. (That spirit posed an unexpected problem. Mail poured in, asking for news of K-9 recruits - or bearing cards, biscuits or bones.) The only news the owners could get came from handlers in the field and occasionally in newspaper stories. One such story concerned "Chips", a mixed-breed part German shepard donated from Pleasantville, N.Y., and shipped overseas with the 30th Infantry. With his handler, PVT John P. Rowell, Chips took part in the July 1943 invasion of Sicily. Near Licata, on the island's southern coast, Rowell and Chips worked inland in the light before dawn. About 300 yards from the beach, a machinegun disguised with thatch opened fire on Rowell. Chips broke free and streaked for the gunners' nest. Soon, an Italian soldier emerged, with Chips biting at his arms and throat. Three more Italian soldiers followed with hands up. Chips suffered a scalp wound and powder burns - proof that the Italians had tried to kill him - but the dog prevailed. After being treated and returned to duty that same night, Chips discovered 10 Italian soldiers approaching on a road. Rowell and his comrades took them all as prisoners - and Chips became a hero. Chips was awarded the Silver star for valor and a Purple Heart for his wounds. U.S. papers exulted: "Yank Hero Dog Takes 14 Italos!" Then the trouble began. The commander of the Order of the Purple Heart complained to President Roosevelt that bestowing the medal on a dog demeaned all the _men_ who had received Purple Hearts. Both of Chips' medals were revoked, and no U.S. war dog would ever again be awarded an official decoration. The only recognition Chips could keep, when he returned to the States and his owner, was his honorable discharge. Still, that was better than dogs in later wars. When the Pentagon learned how much trouble it took to retrain a dog for civilian life, there would be no more discharges. After 1946, any dog who "enlisted" was a war dog for life.

By the time American soldiers scrambled to save South Korea in 1950, the World Wars' canine lessons had been forgotten. The entire U.S. military had only one platoon of true war dogs - the Army's 26th Scout Dog Platoon, which shipped out in June 1951 and compiled a record of distinction. The fear the animals created among Chinese and North Korean troops was evidenced by the propaganda they blared through loudspeakers at night: "Yankee! Take your dog and go home!" The war dogs and their handlers spent almost two years in Korea, patrolling at night, when no other unit could match their success. As cease-fire negotiations began, the Army recognized that the dogs' "unbroken record of faithful and gallant performance saved countless casualties." Still, by the time the last dog came home from Korea, nuclear war was the big threat. The last training center at Fort Carson, CO was shut down in 1957, and the Army abandoned war dogs.

Vietnam changed all that. As the war escalated in the 1960s, first the Air Force and then the Army employed hundreds of canine sentries to guard against Viet Cong infiltration. Marine and Army scout dogs led patrols through jungles, rice paddies and piedmont hills. It is there the war dog story that most touches my heart took place. The story of "Bruno" a German Shepard in the care of SGT Vince McGaskill. On patrol one dark rainy night McGaskill and his platoon were ambushed by Viet Cong troops (rain impairs the dog's ability to scent) and a mortar round landed next to him blowing off his left leg and shattering his left arm. His comrades fought deperately to repell the VC and little time could be spared to see to McGaskill. It was Bruno who dragged him nearly a mile to the nearest aid that could be given and while his wounds were seen to it was only then that MacGaskill realized that the back of Bruno's head had been blown off by the mortar and he died 20 minutes after getting his handler to safety. Once American troops discovered that they seldom lost a man while a dog walked along, there were never enough of them. Eventually, 4000 war dogs would serve and protect our troops. "When we were sick, they would comfort us, and when we were injured, they protected us," said a former Vietnam dog handler, Tom Mitchell. "They didn't care how much money we had or what color our skin was. Heck, they didn't even care if we were good soldiers. They loved us unconditionally. And we loved them. Still do."

Stories of the bond between human and canine soldiers are told on web sites devoted to the war dogs. Along with the animals' heroics, the sites have another thing in common: outrage at the fate of those dogs who put their lives on the line for American troops. When the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam, the Pentagon considered dogs "war equipment" and ordered them "abandoned in place." As Michael Lemish, official historian for the Vietnam Dog Handler Association (VDHA), notes: "Officially, no one knows what happened to them - the only questions that really remain are how many were killed, eaten, or simply starved to death." The shame of that chapter in the war dogs' history fuels the drive for recognition - a drive that is picking up steam. As you might guess from the length of this post I am a part of that drive. In 1999, a documentary about war dogs first aired on the Discovery Channel. From time to time it is repeated. The first unofficial U.S. memorial was a sculpture unveiled in February 2000 at March Field Air Museum in Riverside, CA. An identical sculpture - man and dog on patrol - was dedicated in October 2000 at Georgia's Fort Benning Infantry Museum. And a new photo book about war dogs has been produced by Open Books of Annapolis, MD. Bust as yet there is no memorial that will serve for the nation, as the war dogs did. Veteran dog handlers collected 100,000 signatures but were turned down for a postage stamp. Bugs Bunny made it - the war dogs did not. The Smithsonian renovated the National Museum of American History, but there are no plans to mention war dogs in the new Armed Forces History Hall. They even sent Stubby packing to a National Guard armory in Connecticut. And when the veteran dog handlers applied to plant a tree at Arlington National Cemetary they were denied. Says John Burnam, the president of the VDHA: "We wanted it to be a team memorial - for the war dogs and the men who served with them. But they just won't do it. The bias is simply 'humans only.' They didn't want us inside the gate or anywhere near it."

A conservative estimate of the worth of war dogs in America's conflicts is that casualties would have been 65% higher without them. That means:

660,000 WWII dead instead of 400,000

61,000 Korean dead instead of 37,000 (revised figure)

And nearly 100,000 Vietnam dead instead of 58,000

Write your Congressman, write your Senators. I have.

You can find out more about the drive for a national war dog memorial here:
February 17th, 2005  
If I recall correctly, there was a small segment on MailCall about the Navy or Coast Guards use of Dolphins and actual seals. The seals would first scout the waters and if a mine or diver was spotted, would resurface and get a buoy or cuff. The seal would then either attach the cuff onto the diver, or release a buoy at the site of the mine, and thus alert the other.

I can't quite find anything though, it's a pain in the butt to skim through searching *insert navy/government/military/coast guard* Seals for something other than SEALS or emblems.
February 17th, 2005  
I have heard they have actualy used Dolphins in the Iraq war to try to get rid of of landmines .