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  • Claire Jordan

Friends on Whom to Count

This is Stunter, the WW1 mascot of the Tank Corps, who was so used to riding about in tanks that he learned to balance on the handlebars of motorcycles and did so with great aplomb.

Dogs were a vital part of the war effort on the Western Front. Perhaps 20 000 dogs went to War on the Allied side.

They came from rescue shelters, breeders and police forces. Thousands of people donated their family pets.

Dogs carried aid to wounded soldiers in no man’s land. They were put on guard duty. They accompanied patrols and were harnessed to pull heavy equipment. They kept the rats at bay in the trenches.

They provided kindness and warmth for the men who found themselves in a dangerous alien world far from home.

And, when all other forms of communication had failed in the midst of enemy bombardments, courageous canines got vital messages through, no matter what.

In 1917, the War Office even set up the War Dog School of Instruction in Hampshire.

The Red Cross employed bloodhounds and Airedale terriers, who were given medical kits and trained to seek out the wounded.

Many of the dogs were killed or wounded in action. The ‘Dundee Courier’ carried an article in November 1916 about Marquis, who served with the French Army as a dispatch dog.

“He had been sent out with a message at a time when owing to the intensity of German fire, it was unsafe to send a human messenger.

Marquis received a bullet wound and fell, but managed to crawl back with the message undelivered, letting it drop out of his mouth, stained with blood at his masters feet.”

The war dogs of the Great War, faithful unto death.

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