Re: Dogs of War (book)
Thanks for sharing your book, Chris!
I read it on your site. Must've taken you quite awhile to scan in.
It was great seeing so many pictures I hadn't seen before of WWII war dogs. Only a few were ones familiar to me. Such as the pictures of Chips. I hadn't ever heard of or seen before any mention of his sons, Gus and Butch. It was wonderful to know they carried on their father's duties.
Pictures of note to me included the picture of the parachute rescue dog assigned to northwest Canada and the picture of "Jaint de Notimoreney" - the only dog to have jumped with the Airborne at Normandy. Maybe you could post those pics here for the people who doubted that dogs had ever been parachuted successfully in wartime after that Royal Marine thread here.
Also of note were the pictures of war dogs "Recall" captured from the Germans and "Motobu" captured from the Japanese (both of them GSDs) and turned over to US handlers.
So nice to see our beloved GSDs prominently featured (along with Dobermans, Collies, and even a Dalmatian). I was especially pleased to see Caesar from Bougainville. My father told me about him but I had never seen his picture before. Although brief his story was well told and shown. How many dogs besides a GSD can be shown with two bullet wounds and still smiling?
I noted the author didn't shy much from pictures of the dead. Although no American dead were shown or others of the Axis, dead Japanese were shown. Of special note was the dead GSD on Iwo Jima. The high price of taking that island ended many Marines lives and nearly my father's. It was also noteworthy to see the picture of the grave the Marines made for a dead war dog. "Skipper" had a cross marked simply, "Skipper, PFC, USMC" with no notation other than his name to indicate he was a dog. He lived and died a Marine and his comrades clearly wanted it so noted.
The bond these Marines shared was plainly seen on the face of the handler in charge of "Peppy". His shock and hardship felt at the three days his dog was MIA and the grave wounding of his comrade can clearly be seen.
Overall I was greatly gladdened to see your book. I only have one criticism of it and I can understand why the book went that particular way.
As you may recall, my father was a Marine handler on Guadalcanal and Munda. No earlier date for the dogs in action in the Pacific is given than Bougainville which started in November of 1943 - more than a year after Guadalcanal started. Why I suppose this was would likely be because the book wishes to show the professionalism and the training involved in these dogs. The simple truth is that although the US military developed a war dog program during WWI for the first time in response to European practices they had let the training lay fallow in the years between WWI and WWII and so in the beginning of the US entry into the war there was no war dog program. In a stopgap measure and in order to fill the needs for such dogs the first dogs went through no official training program and were simply given to any troop in specified units who had a good understanding of animals and their care. My father, having grown up on a farm, was one such Marine. Dad's primary duty was as one of the first ground radarmen of the war. He also did perimeter defense and sentry duty on the airfields at Guadalcanal and Munda. Dad was severely wounded on Munda and his dog went on in the war without him. Dad learned he died on Iwo and my father returned to war himself just prior to Iwo and as I said earlier, nearly died there himself. The picture of the dead war dog from Iwo in your book was especially poignant to me.