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The United States War Dogs Association


Dogs crossed the Alps with Hannibal, they marched with Ceasar's Legions and even the Crusaders had their Mastiffs!

The first appearance of the Devil Dogs, as the Raiders were  to call them, was during the Bougainville operation, 1 November 1943. Here the 1st Marine War Dog Platoon was attached to H & S Company, 2nd Marine Raider Regiment (provisional). This platoon was composed of 24 dogs (21 Doberman Pinschers, 1 Belgian and 2 German Shepherds).

The Platoon Commander Lt. Clyde A. Henderson stated: "To facilitate training and control in the field for every 5-6 dogs there was a Marine responsible for their well being." When you view the fact that each dog had two handlers it is seen that the squad organization consisted of thirteen men-as were the rifle squads at that time.



On the Bougainville campaign, probably the most famous of the dogs was Caesar (one of the German Shepherds).

During the time that "M" Company, 3rd Raider Battalion was holding a road block on the Piva Trail, Caesar made nine runs between the road block and the Battalion Command Post when lines were out and radios would not carry in the heavy jungle. Caesar was wounded on the third day when, during the early morning, he attacked a Jap who was in the act of shoving a hand grenade into the foxhole of his handler's, PFC Rufus Mayo (Caesar's other handler was PFC John K. Kleenman).

Jack, a three year old Belgian Shepherd whose handlers were PFC Gorgon J. Wortman and PFC Paul J. Castracane, also acquitted himself bravely- getting through with a message to send stretcher bearers immediately, a vital message since all telephone lines had been cut. Jack made the run in spite of being shot in the back.

Rex, a two-year-old Doberman scout dog forewarned his group of Marines of the presence of Japs during the night. They were ready and waiting when the attack came at dawn and successfully repelled it! Rex was handled by PFC William N. Hendrickson and PFC Charles Foist.

Another scout dog, a four year old Doberman named Otto, while working ahead of a reconnaissance patrol, warned the Marines of a Jap machine gun position located 100 yards away. This gave the Marines time to disperse and take cover before the machine gun opened fire. The two handlers were PVT Martin R. Troup and PFC Henry L. Demault.

While the Raiders used only the scout and message dogs, there were other uses of dogs in the military during World War II.

Sentry attack dogs were used with the Coast Guard.


The Casualty dogs were trained to find wounded military personnel in debris and heavy cover. The wire laying dogs were used to lay communication wire from a spool or spindle attached to their back or side.

The pack dogs useful in northern and mountainous areas were capable of transporting small amounts of ammo and medical supplies. Sled dogs were also used to some extent by our ski troops.

Concerning the selection and procurement, the Planning and Policies Division of Marine Corps Headquarters summarized the reasoning behind the use of dogs with this statement: "Dogs are weapons. They are used because they give our men added power of observation through their acute sense of smell and hearing."

All dogs were voluntarily offered by their owners and before acceptance were given careful examinations. The animal had to weigh at least 50 pounds, be at least 20" at the shoulder and not be less than one year or more than five years old. The dog's temperament could not be overly aggressive or too shy.

On the messenger dogs, the message was carried in the small first aid pouch that was attached to the dog's collar. All dogs were issued a leather leash, a choke chain and a leather muzzle.

Marine ingenuity came into plan when lowering their dogs from ship rail to landing craft. They simply put a Marine fatigue jacket backward on the dog, inserting his front legs through the rolled up sleeves, buttoning the collar backwards around his neck by the first three buttons and then tying the remainder of the jacket in a knot and affixing the light linthrough and around the knot. This resulted in a comfortable and secure vest or sling which the dog accepted stoically during the lowering into the Higgins boats where his other handler waited.

No dog tags were issued (pun intended) but all dogs were tattooed on the inside of the ear, and all had military record books much like their Marine Handlers. The dogs of 1st Marine War Dog Platoon endeared themselves to the Raiders during the Bougainville action. After this operation the Raiders were destined to be disbanded and be reformed into the 4th Marine Regiment. Here, once again, the former Raiders, while en route to the Island of Japan via Guam and Okinawa, would come in contact with their Devil Dogs.

By Van D. Shurts. 4CP

If there can be halcyon days in a war, I guess we had ours on Guam in 1944. Battle halcyon days. We had whipped the Japanese something pitiful, and their top-dog generals had all committed harikari, taking their staffs with them in the most honorable of conditions using knives stuck in their livers or grenades against their heads.

Supplies came to our area like a flood. It was on Guam, after the fighting had subsided, everything we needed and a lot we didn't need kept coming to us: barrels of gasoline and boxes of napalm crystals, cases of grenades, good old 10-in-l rations (we could eat all 10 in one day if we wanted to), socks, shorts and pork and beans.

One day we had to destroy several cases of grenades by unscrewing the fuzes and letting them detonate after emptying the shells. No one wanted the grenades, and it wasn't safe to leave them alive. Trade was brisk with the rear echelon people who came up to the front looking for souvenirs. What Japanese trinkets we could find we sold or bartered for booze. Word was passed throughout the island telling everyone not to wander in the jungle for fear of being killed by the Marines. We weren't trigger happy but sometimes our dogs would sniff a Marine the same as a Jap. If some Marine souvenir hunter was out he might be sniffed and shot before he finished. The jungle was dense with a lot of thicket and I'm sure a lot of Japs temporarily survived our patrols by laying among some dead and looking dead.

We had to shoot one of our dogs one day. Most of them were Doberman Pinchers, black, lean and tall. Dogs were assigned to a handler on a one-to-one basis and were not to be petted or fooled with by anyone else. This dog was a female, and I guess she finally got so high-strung with all the Jap smells, the shooting, the blood and excitement and all that, that one day when she spotted a Jap who had just stood up out of the brush with his hands up she charged. She lunged so hard she pulled her tether out of her handler's grip and loped straight at the Jap. At the height of her leap toward the Jap's head, the BARs roared and the dog dropped along with the Jap. A round had passed through her body but she was still alive when carried out on a stretcher. The guys were real sorry it happened; some had tears in their eyes. The Jap was left where he fell.

23 AUGUST 1985

I am Clyde A Henderson 017729 who was the lieutenant in charge of the 1st Marine War Dog Platoon which served on Bougainville.

As to the type of weapons used by the men of war dog platoons, the carbine was the weapon assigned. In addition to the carbine, each man carried two leashes, one six feet and one 20 feet, a towel, grooming brush, extra canteen of water, extra cans of dog food or "C" rations in case dog food was not available.

As to the messenger pouch, my guess would be to contact the quartermaster. You see, all this dog equipment had to be turned in when the men and dogs were discharged.

I have a number of official Marine Corps pictures taken by a combat photographer. Since we were aboard the transport ship with the most high ranking officers (you know how photographers are attracted to high ranks), one photographer attached himself to the dog platoon all the way to Bougainvllle and for three days after we landed!

One of the officers of high rank was very interested in the dogs. Among many other questions he asked was: "Were we preparing our dogs for an exhibition? They look so sleek and healthy." I told him we had to prepare them physically and mentally just as the men had to be at their best if they were going to fight as Marines are supposed to do in combat!

Before finishing this report I must tell you that being made a part of the Raiders, the 1st Marine War Dog Platoon was given the best possible chances to succeed if they deserved it. Then, Colonel Shapley wrote an evaluation of the platoon and its possibilities to headquarters in Washington, D.C. and it was such an excellent report that I was on "Cloud Nine" for days. I was very pleased with my men and dogs and they joined me on "Cloud Nine!"

Colonel Shapley also told me that he had recommended that I be returned to Lejeune to take charge of the training of all future dog platoons-that many more platoons could be very useful. I couldn't have had more cooperation from the officers and men of the 2nd Raider Regiment. Captain Peatross worked with me in setting up combat problems to give all the dogs and handlers a chance to know where they fit into combat situations. Captain Charles Lamb guided me in the way of Marines and protected me from my military shortcomings without making me feel humiliated.

I'm sending along a book written by Clayton G. Going from the Office of War Information. After I returned from Bougainville to Lejeune he spent three days with me. He saw how the men and dogs lived and worked. He took copious notes. He asked lots of questions. He talked to many of the men who were in training for another couple of platoons. I felt he would write a good report.

Incidentally, our War Dog Platoons were used in the assault on Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa in addition to Bougainville, and none were unopposed landings!

By Colonel "Buck" Stidham. 2 Bn.

I recall a humorous moment involving Caesar. a big beautiful male German Shepard who was the obvious favorite of the troops. As I understand it the dogs had a regular Marine record book and all carried the rank of PFC.

On about the 3rd day ashore word got around that Caesar had done such an outstanding job that Col. Shapley had given him a spot promotion to SGT. I saw Caesar come trotting down the muddy Piva trail. Ignoring everybody as he was trained to do. But as he passed our unit, you could hear these taunts from the ranks- ear banger," "brown nose," "ass kisser" and so forth. If it had any effect on Caesar, it sure didn't show.

See page, K-9 Heroes - Remembered: for photo of Caesar

By M. F. ("Mac") McLane

On Okinawa we found the use of dogs by the Japanese! Near Motobu we found a large cave with a large number of dead Japanese soldiers but with several live dogs. I put some water into a helmet and one dog drank thirstily, after which he allowed me to slip a belt around his neck and I led him out.

When we searched the gear and personal effects in the cave I found a photo of an enemy soldier with a war dog that had the same markings of the dog I had captured, so we felt it was the same dog!

Referring to my Japanese language manual, I tried some words such as 'kochi koi' (come here), 'suarte'{sit) , 'nete' (lie down), 'tate' (up), and'susume'(go). When he responded I knew I had a Japanese war dog!

We kept him until we boarded ship to leave Okinawa, having named him Motobu, after the location where he was captured. Sadly, the dog expired aboard ship from heartworms, and we all felt we had lost a friend!

I would like to thank: The United States Marine Raiders for allowing me to post the above information.




Another noted War Dog was "Dick"

Dick, a scout dog donated by Edward Zan of New York City, was cited for working with a Marine Corps patrol in the Pacific Area.

About 4 Feb 44, T/4 Boude with his scout dog, Dick, went out with a Marine reconnaissance patrol of about fifteen men from Co. K. The mission of the patrol was to locate and reconnoiter a trail through a portion of the island adjacent to Cape Gloucester.

The terrain to be covered consisted of heavy jungle, forest, and swamps. Rain fell throughout the period.

On the third day, T/4 Boude and Dick were working as usual as the point of the patrol. Dick alerted, pointing to the right front. Boude stopped and signaled the patrol leader, who came up and received the report. He and Boude went forward about forty yards and saw a Jap bivouac of five huts.

No Japs were in sight. Boude quartered ( "quartering" is a search method) with Dick to determine which of the huts were occupied. Dick alerted to one hut only.

The patrol surrounded this hut, closed in, and found four Japs. They were killed. There were no Marine casualties.

The patrol proceeded on its mission, the remainder of which was uneventful except that some Jap stragglers were encountered. In each instance the dog alerted in time for the Japs to be surprised and captured or killed.



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