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lowlyhistorystudent

The Role of Dogs in the Great War

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lowlyhistorystudent

Hi,

 

I am new to this forum. I am thinking of doing a dissertation on the role of dogs in WW1 and was wondering if anybody had any useful source material or knowledge on this topic. I have already got a copy of the book by Edwin Richardson. Particularly interested in soldiers' personal accounts of their interactions with dogs and any war diary entries that include information on how the dogs were used, or how they impacted the well-being of the men. I would appreciate any information on this topic.

 

Thanks,

lowlyhistorystudent

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lowlyhistorystudent

Thanks very much, Terry. 

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Moonraker

Welcome to the forum. We have  a number of threads about dogs, with 2,441 (!) hits if one puts "dogs" into the Forum search box. Or one can Google "great war forum dogs site:www.greatwarforum.org".

 

Admittedly many of the references are to collar dogs as in uniform insignia and more are trivial, but there are some useful leads (no pun intended) there.

 

Happy Hunting!

 

Moonraker

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lowlyhistorystudent

Thank you, Moonraker!

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kenmorrison

Just in case it is of interest.

http://warmemscot.s4.bizhat.com/warmemscot-ftopic9171.html&highlight=devils

Location: Devils Porridge Museum, Eastriggs, Dumfries and Galloway.

"IN MEMORY OF
ANIMALS IN WAR
THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED IN 2015
TO COMMEMORATE ANIMALS AND
HOMING CARRIER PIGEONS
WHICH HAVE FALLEN ON THE FIELD
OF BATTLE ALONGSIDE OUR BRAVE
BRITISH AND COMMONWEALTH
SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN
DURING WARS AND CONFLICTS
WE SHALL REMEMBER THEM ALL
THE BRITISH HOMING WORLD
ROYAL PIGEON RACING ASSOCIATION
CUMBRIA REGION"

 

Ken

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Kath

lhs, are you able to see newspapers online?

A Major Richardson has a long article in Kington Times 02 January 1915 & other papers headed "DOGS OF WAR".

 

Here is an ad. Illustrated London News 10 July 1915.

image.png.b785171b072e2d995d98b3618f0479ea.png

 

Kath.

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kenf48
Posted (edited)

Presumably your copy of Richardson's book was downloaded from archive.org, Richardson was the driving force behind the use of dogs in the British Army in WW1 and for a long time a lone voice as to their merits.

 

Richardson's account was updated by by Bryan Cummins

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Colonel-Richardsons-Airedales-Bryan-Cummins/dp/1550592483/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=colonel+Richardsons+airedales&qid=1557341579&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

 

As noted above there are many threads on the forum on this topic.

 

Each of the armies used dogs to a greater or lesser extent, when war was declared the British had no dogs whereas the continental armies had hundreds in service.  Generally speaking the employment of messenger dogs by the British was not especially successful, not through any fault of the dog but due to mistrust among the officers and battery commanders as to their reliability.  As Jilly Cooper notes in 'Animals at War' the first time they received official recognition and praise  was after the Battle of the Nieppe Forest which was April 1918.

 

There are records at the IWM which also has a film of the dogs in training this also dates from 1918.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060022726

 

 

There is an online bio of Richardson

here https://www.k9history.com/WWI-biography-ehrichardson.htm

 

Ken

 

Edited by kenf48

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MikeMeech
5 hours ago, lowlyhistorystudent said:

Hi,

 

I am new to this forum. I am thinking of doing a dissertation on the role of dogs in WW1 and was wondering if anybody had any useful source material or knowledge on this topic. I have already got a copy of the book by Edwin Richardson. Particularly interested in soldiers' personal accounts of their interactions with dogs and any war diary entries that include information on how the dogs were used, or how they impacted the well-being of the men. I would appreciate any information on this topic.

 

Thanks,

lowlyhistorystudent

Hi

 

Reference British messenger dogs, the 'rules' as laid down in SS 191 'Inter-Communication in the Field' of November, 1917 are below:

WW1Britmsgdogs001.jpg.eac7e9b535534b178c676ed43bccff43.jpg

WW1Britmsgdogs002.jpg.0ab973eae234c0dfb10d408aabeb48f2.jpg

 

There is also a little bit of information on them on pages 114-115 of 'Communications and British Operations on the Western Front, 1914-1918' by Brian N. Hall. This includes the problems with them, or rather the troops, who:

 

"...contrary to orders, found it difficult to resist the temptation of treating them as pets, thus much decreasing their value as a speedy and reliable means of communication."

 

A War Dog School was officially established to train message dogs in mid-1917.

 

Mike

 

 

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seaJane

Grant Hayter-Menzies, From Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First Division. Potomac Books, 2016. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stray-Dog-World-War-Hero/dp/1612347215/

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

You can try the Australian War Memorial site as it has some on dogs related to the Great war. In particular a German dog who came into our lines and we looked after it and its stuffed remains are still in the AWM.

 

S.B

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mandy hall

Google Emma White and dogs in The Great War, she gave a talk to my branch of the Orders and Medals Research Society about the use of dogs in The Great War.

 

This link takes you to a blog from her and at the bottom, shows she was studying for a PhD in The Use of Dogs in the First World War at Chichester University.

 

https://sniffingthepast.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/training-war-dogs-the-british-experience-during-the-first-world-war/

 

Mandy

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WhiteStarLine

Hi, there is a bit of information in Chapter 12 of "The Signal Service in France 1914 - 1919" which is freely downloadable.  The specific pages are 222 - 223.

 

As others have pointed out, the unit war diaries for the Australian forces contain numerous references.  Here are some relevant extracts from the 11th Brigade, in various action during 1918.  My grandfather was a signaller in this brigade:

 

The signallers requested pigeons and messenger dogs. In response to their enquiry, the Divisional Commander replied that no pigeons were available at present as the entire Corps had only 2 lofts of young, untrained birds which will not be ready for at least 3 weeks. No messenger dogs were available anywhere in the Fourth Army. On the other side, four times a day German messenger dogs Rex and Greif ran the gauntlet of Australian snipers as they made the risky courier run along the Bray-Corbie road.

 

Pigeons and messenger dogs were working satisfactorily and each was used to good effect during the May / June operations. Careful records were kept and in one example, dog 127 was released from the company in line at 5:45 pm but failed to return. It and was found at 8:25 am next morning 3,200 metres away in the 43rd Battalion area. The poor dog had been badly gassed.

 

The signallers spent the first few days bringing stores up to the requisite levels and working with a new messenger dog group fresh from the Corps Kennel. A detailed list was published for each messenger dog and the distance it travelled and the time taken. For example, dog 126 left battalion headquarters at 7:15 am on June 3rd and arrived at 7:28 am having covered 1,460 metres in 13 minutes.

 

Three keepers and 9 messenger dogs arrived to relieve those already on the front line. At that stage of the war, each brigade had 2 keepers and 6 dogs. The next day, the dogs were tested. In one test, the dog was able to cover 5 kilometres in 25 minutes, a very good result over cross-country.

 

Two more messenger dogs were given a trial, but as often happened, times were not good as the dogs hung around and wandered into other offices. Frequently, troops treated the dogs as pets during their journey and fed and made a fuss of them.

 

Three new messenger dogs arrived for the brigade. In this sector, the brigade had persevered with its use of messenger dogs and was allocated dogs 140 and 141. Dog 140 was found to be fast and reliable. In one case, it left a trench raiding party at Villers-Bretonneux at 3:20 am and at 3:50 am reached the back station, 4,390 metres away. The messenger dogs were less successful in the neighbouring brigade and it was suspected that they had been fed at some kitchen along the way.

 

Messenger dogs were withdrawn on this day [July 16 1918]. Following their withdrawal, a report was written outlining that only variable success had been achieved. While the dogs were a quick means of communication, too often they strayed or were fed or petted by troops. Their barking alerted the enemy and it was feared that the Germans would place a bitch in heat in the front line and lure the dog to intercept the message!

 

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lowlyhistorystudent
On 08/05/2019 at 19:35, Kath said:

lhs, are you able to see newspapers online?

A Major Richardson has a long article in Kington Times 02 January 1915 & other papers headed "DOGS OF WAR".

 

Here is an ad. Illustrated London News 10 July 1915.

image.png.b785171b072e2d995d98b3618f0479ea.png

 

Kath.

Hi Kath, thank you for your post. I am sorry for my delay in getting back to you. I would really like to know where I may be able to get hold of the newspapers you have mentioned. Please could you send me a link or other information as to where I might find them. 

 

Also could you tell where I might find more adverts like the one you have posted? 

 

Many thanks.

On 08/05/2019 at 19:32, kenmorrison said:

 

Many thanks. Sorry for the delay in replying.

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lowlyhistorystudent
On 08/05/2019 at 20:05, kenf48 said:

Generally speaking the employment of messenger dogs by the British was not especially successful, not through any fault of the dog but due to mistrust among the officers and battery commanders as to their reliability.

 

Thanks Ken. Sorry for my delay in replying. Would love to know where you get the above information from. Would l find this in any official war records?

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lowlyhistorystudent
On 08/05/2019 at 21:31, MikeMeech said:

SS 191 'Inter-Communication in the Field' of November, 1917

Many thanks. Sorry for my delay in replying. Please could you tell me where I can find the above mentioned communication?

 

On 08/05/2019 at 21:31, MikeMeech said:

114-115 of 'Communications and British Operations on the Western Front, 1914-1918' by Brian N. Hall.

Do you know of this is available online as it is a very expensive book to buy. Just wondering if there might be anything else in it about the messenger dogs?

 

Thank so much for your help.

On 08/05/2019 at 22:52, seaJane said:

Grant Hayter-Menzies, From Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First Division. Potomac Books, 2016. 

Thank you so much for your help. Sorry for my delay in replying.

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lowlyhistorystudent
On 09/05/2019 at 09:32, WhiteStarLine said:

Here are some relevant extracts from the 11th Brigade, in various action during 1918.  My grandfather was a signaller in this brigade:

Many thanks for this excellent information. Please could you tell me if I can get hold of the war diary online? 

 

Also, do you know where I might find more information like this e.g. from other brigade war diaries?

 

Many thanks.

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lowlyhistorystudent
On 09/05/2019 at 01:25, stevebecker said:

You can try the Australian War Memorial site as it has some on dogs related to the Great war. In particular a German dog who came into our lines and we looked after it and its stuffed remains are still in the AWM.

Thank you for your help. Sorry for the delay in replying. I have been to the AWM website but cannot find this. I did a search for dogs but could not find much.. Please could you send me a link if possible?

 

Thank you.

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lowlyhistorystudent

Many thanks to everyone who has been so helpful on this subject.

 

Another question that perhaps you can help with:  does anyone know if there are any official records kept by or about the war dog school itself in shoeburyness?

 

Thank you.

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seaJane

Something here apparently:

http://www.beyondthepoint.co.uk/property/shoeburyness-poppy-wave/.

 

The only reference I can find on Discovery (The National Archives catalogue) is a single medal index card to a man who served at the "Royal Engineers War Dog School" - 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D1031986

 

Following up that I have found this: 

https://sniffingthepast.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/training-war-dogs-the-british-experience-during-the-first-world-war/ and this:

https://blog.maryevans.com/2013/09/messenger-dogs-lt-col-richardson-the-british-war-dog-school.html

which has as its source 'British War Dogs' by Lt-Col. Edwin Hautenville Richardson (London: Skeffington & Son, 1920).

 

 

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seaJane

[Apologies, I now see that you are already aware of this! :blush:]

Richardson's book available online here:

https://archive.org/details/britishwardogsth00richrich/page/n6

Edited by seaJane
Apology required

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seaJane

And finally, as the dogs seem to have been in the Royal Engineers" remit, maybe someone at the RE Museum can advise: https://www.re-museum.co.uk/.

 

sJ

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