How about a small terrier? While waiting out the trip home from France, Stubby met his first of three presidents, Woodrow Wilson, on Christmas Day 1918 in Mandres en Bassigny. Red Cross dogs, also called sanitary dogs or Sanitätshunde by the Germans, negotiated battlefields and no-man’s lands to aide wounded men. Somehow, the dog and his master survived. Stubby, a bulldog terrier with a short, stubby tail. Army via Wikimedia Commons. The ceremony was presided over by Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American forces in Europe during the war. Stubby was a brindle puppy with a short tail. It was said he could sniff out poison gas, barking warnings to doughboys in the trenches. Describing him as a dog of "uncertain breed," Ann Bausum wrote that: "The brindle-patterned pup probably owed at least some of his parentage to the evolving family of Boston Terriers, a breed so new that even its name was in flux: Boston Round Heads, American...and Boston Bull Terriers." But the very fact of Stubby’s celebrity itself enlightens our understanding of the war and its aftermath. Seicheprey sustained the heaviest losses in the Saint-Mihiel sector. In 1915, the French government asked Allan Alexander Allan, a Scotsman living in Alaska, to provide its army with sled dogs. Initially, he didn’t serve in an official capacity, but the dog was allowed stay with Conroy, even when he went on assignment as a dispatch rider delivering messages to command posts on horseback. On April 5 Stubby became a private first class, his first military rank. The dog, it was said, “was the only member of his regiment that could talk back to [Parker] and get away with it.”, Stubby remained with the 102nd throughout the training period in Neufchâteau. Stubby was made a member of the Red Cross and the American Legion. The page includes an infuriated letter to the editor by Richard L. Richardson, a Great War veteran from San Angelo, Texas. Usually closed doors were flung open for Stubby. His glory was even hailed in France, which also presented him with a medal. The book is crammed with documents and ephemera: fan letters, poems, drawings, an invitation to the White House from President Wilson. When the time came to ship out for France, his new friend was not left behind. The 26th Division soon moved from Chemin des Dames to nearby towns of Saint-Mihiel and Seicheprey. Oftentimes when speaking of our American soldiers, we’re referring to all the brave men and women who have committed to protecting our great nation. Often, the dogs simply provided comfort and a warm body to dying men on battlefields. “Stubby’s history overseas,” a Waterbury, Connecticut, newspaper wrote in 1922, “is the story of almost any average doughboy.” But of course Stubby was not a doughboy, and his renown was anything but average. Sergeant Stubby was a dog who helped soldiers fighting in World War One. His taxidermied remains are on view at the Smithsonian, in a crowded display case alongside a mannequin doughboy and another World War I military animal celebrity, the carrier pigeon Cher Ami. According to Bausum, the two reportedly shook “hands.” Four months later, on April 29, 1919, Stubby and Conroy were demobilized at Camp Devens, Massachusetts. He was the jaunty little creature who could be trotted out for parades, appear with politicians and military brass in photo opportunities, and was guaranteed to stay on message. In 1917, Stubby, a Pit Bull puppy with a “stubbed” tail, was living on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut near an Army training camp at Yale University. Courtesy of Harris & Ewing Collection/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. After living through a total of 17 battles, Sgt. In the 1870s, the German military began coordinating with local dog clubs, training and breeding dogs for combat. Stubby, according to vintage articles from his time (linked below in "references") and this 1921 one in particular, was noted to be a Boston Bull Terrier, which is the old term for the Boston Terrier breed. Meet the first dog to be given military rank in U.S. history. When it came time for the outfit to ship out, Conroy hid Stubby on boar… The New York Times describes how Conroy eluded the ship guards by concealing Stubby in his Army-issue greatcoat. To this day he holds his own display at the National Museum of American History, and can be visited by anyone. He is the only dog that has been promoted to Sergeant through combat. Unfortunately this special canine did not leave the battlefield completely unscathed. Here the lore of Stubby, as reported by various newspapers, takes on a suspiciously cutesy cast: The story goes that the dog charmed his way into the good graces of the officers who discovered him by lifting his right paw in a salute. Sergeant Stubby was a pit bull type dog that was found and “enlisted” by Private Conroy during World War I. This practice is to ensure due regard for these special dogs, as well as aid in the prevention of any possible abuse. It was at Chemin des Dames that Stubby reportedly saved the 102nd from a gas attack. He served for 18 months in World War I as part of the 102 nd infantry, 26 th Division in France. (Perhaps gas masks were to thank—man and dog alike were issued masks, though the New York Times reported that “Stubby’s physiognomy was of such peculiar contour that no mask could afford real satisfaction.”). Another photo, dated February 1919, captures Stubby in the town of Mandres-aux-Quatre-Tours, in Lorraine in northeastern France. When did Sgt Stubby die? Private Robert J. He met Presidents Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge. The setting for Stubby’s debut was the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. He proved quick to learn. Sergeant Stubby died in 1926. The attention seemed to bother him; the New York Times reported that the soldier was “a trifle gun shy, and showed some symptoms of nervous excitement.” When photographers snapped his picture, he flinched. While the rank is obviously not recognized by the military on paper, it’s not unheard of for these well deserving dogs to be awarded with medals, recognition, and sometimes even funeral ceremonies (as we now know, thanks to Stubby the war dog). Dogs were part of Attila the Hun’s forces in his fifth-century European conquests. Among the allies, France had the largest and most diverse dog units. To the victor go the spoils: The Iron Cross medal that had been pinned to the German’s uniform thereafter adorned Stubby’s Army “coat.”. War dogs weren’t the only area in which the U.S. military was wanting. Shellshock was regarded as a mental illness, the result of cowardice, a shameful disease. Stubby, the foundling mutt, was thus an apt mascot for the U.S. forces: unpedigreed, untrained, an underdog. When the 102nd reached Chateâu Thierry in July, the dog had evidently learned to distinguish a khaki doughboy uniform from gray serge Germany garb: He recognized a uniformed enemy soldier. Stubby was found wandering the grounds of Yale Field in New Haven, Connecticutwhile a group of soldiers were training. They took part in four major offensives—Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne—and 17 engagements. It is a leather-bound scrapbook, kept by Conroy. Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. The highest military rank ever achieved by a dog is in fact Sergeant, which is what Stubby was promoted to in combat for his great courage on the battlefield. Involved in 17 battles, Stubby did more … By February 1918, the 102nd was bunkering along the lines of Chemin des Dames, the French-held “ladies path” on the Western Front, nervously anticipating the Germans’ launch of a spring offensive. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. We would like you all to meet Stubby, Sergeant Stubby to be more accurate. While it may seem surprising, a small terrier mix known as Stubby, is described to be one of the most decorated war dogs in the history of the US military! Stubby lingered around Camp Yale after that first appearance. While Stubby was hailed with newspaper encomiums and ceremonial pomp, something was being glossed over: the grim details of life in the trenches, poison gas attacks, debilitating war injuries, death. Stubby went on to become a very brave soldier who won lots of medals before reaching the age of two. For capturing an enemy spy, Stubby was put in for a promotion to the rank of sergeant by the commander of the 102nd Infantry. Stubby the dog, known to many as “Sgt. “We came into this war without an army … so now must build an entire new organization,” said Gen. Pershing in 1917. Was he mostly a Boston bull terrier or a bulldog or a fox terrier? At the start of the war, the United States was one of the few participants in World War I that did not maintain a canine force. He was not an impressive sight: short, barrel-shaped, a bit homely, with brown and white brindled stripes. A labrador, perhaps? J. Robert Conroy and Sergeant Stubby at the capitol in Washington. Here are some interesting things to know about this four-legged hero. Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated dog of World War I. Today I found out about Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated war dog of WWI. Humble beginnings. Miss Louise Johnson and Sergeant Stubby in a parade, May 1921. It is a truism that World War I was the first modern war, but it’s easy to forget what that meant 100 years ago. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. But his story is worth revisiting, and not just as a cute, curious footnote. He met three sitting presidents, traveled the nation to veterans’ commemorations, and performed in vaudeville shows, earning $62.50 for three days of theatrical appearances, more than twice the weekly salary of the average American. After the war, Stubby was ubiquitous. Today, he may be the last decorated World War I veteran that you can still see in the flesh. He became the first dog to be given rank in the United States Armed Forces. Stubby — who was believed to be a Pit Bull mix — was the most decorated war dog in U.S. history. Stubby got his first war wound at Seicheprey, when a German shell fragment lodged in his left foreleg. Stubby’s story started when he was found on Yale University Campus while a group of the 102nd Infantry was training. Stubby appeared in dog shows for this still-evolving breed, and he was often reported to have been an American bull terrier, one of the early names for the new breed. In October 1917, one month after landing in France, the American Expeditionary Forces entered the Western Front. Some say that he was a brindle bull terrier mutt, or pit bull mix, and others believe he was a Boston Terrier mix. The scale and nature of World War I was unprecedented, shocking even to Americans who had lived through the Civil War a half-century earlier. Stubby came home to finish out his life as a normal dog. Before the military started actual programs for these military dogs, they were ideal for breaking up enemy formations- running fearlessly into the sea of men- and taking them down one by one. On April 20, near Seicheprey, the Germany infantry led one of its first attacks against American troops. Stubby first smelled the gas then ran up and down the trenches barking and biting soldiers, working to rouse them from slumber and getting them to safety. Like Rags, Stubby was a stray, and fell in with some soldiers drilling in New Haven, Conn. Cpl. Stubby’s temperament and personality enchanted all of the men, but one soldier in particular by the name of Robert Conroy declared Stubby as his own. They saw more fighting than any other American infantry division: 210 days in total. The conventional wisdom favored pedigreed dogs: Jack Russell terriers for chasing rats out of trenches; German shepherds, Chiens de Brie, and Alsatian sheep dogs for sentry duty. Robert Conroy decided to bring Stubby … The troops traveled by rail to Newport News, Virginia, a newly designated port of embarkation for soldiers heading to France. Photo courtesy Carole Raddato/Flickr Creative Commons. Stubby was later injured by a grenade, but he survived the large amounts of shrapnel in his chest and leg. For capturing an enemy spy, Stubby was put in for a promotion to the rank of Sergeant by the commander of the 102nd Infantry. It’s impossible to say if Stubby’s celebrity was cultivated by the U.S. government or if it was the result of an organic groundswell. The occasion was a ceremony honoring veterans of the 102nd Infantry of the American Expeditionary Forces’ 26th “Yankee” Division, who had seen action in France during the Great War. Persians, Greeks, Assyrians, and Babylonians all used dogs in battle. The Royal lion hunt reliefs from the Assyrian palace at Nineveh, about 645-635 B.C., housed at the British Museum. He was so popular that his actions were well-documented in contemporary American newspapers. When the war ended on Nov. 11, 1918, Stubby was in Meuse-Argonne. He was excellent in locating the wounded soldiers and getting them help. The award was not a formal U.S. military commendation, but it symbolically confirmed Stubby, who’d also earned one wound stripe and three service stripes, as the greatest war dog in the nation’s history. When he was a puppy in 1917, Stubby was wandering around the fields of Yale University. Stubby’s provenance is unknown. A senior officer discovered the ruse. Dogs were forbidden in the U.S. military, but Conroy had managed to keep the stray as a pet throughout his three-month training in Connecticut. In fact, he earned the rank of sergeant in combat. Stubby was described in contemporaneous news items as a Boston Terrier or "American bull terrier" mutt. And much of the criticism illustrates that commemorating Stubby did often mean neglecting the story of human veterans. Stubby would train with the Army every morning, running and exercising with the unit. Harding officially received Stubby at the White House in 1921; in 1924, the dog passed review for Harding’s successor, Calvin Coolidge, three times. Millions of Americans heard tales of Stubby’s courage. Sergeant Stubby among his buddies leading a Legion parade. Saddlebags stocked with water and medical supplies were strapped to their backs. The Army lagged behind its allies in both recruiting and preparedness. Stubby was awarded several medals of honor, and even invited visit the White House! Sgt Stubby was a mixed breed stray dog. All contents © 2021 The Slate Group LLC. Stubby proved himself extremely useful on the battlefield. Sergeant Stubby was smuggled back into the U.S. by Conroy at the conclusion of the war, where he continued to build on his list of things dogs don’t normally get to do. In one battle, Prusco, a French dog, located and dragged more than 100 wounded men to safety. He served with distinction during WWI and had the honor of being the war’s most decorated war dog. Although mostly forgotten today, one pit bull, Sergeant Stubby, became the only dog promoted in rank in American military history in recognition of his efforts in warning his unit of poison gas attacks and incoming artillery shells, locating wounded soldiers and capturing a German spy. The accounts collected in Conroy’s scrapbook broadly sketch the narrative of Stubby’s service that became familiar in the immediate postwar years. Gen. John Pershing awards Sergeant Stubby with a medal in 1921. When Conroy went to study law at Georgetown, Stubby became the university’s official mascot, a predecessor to the Hoya bulldog of the present day. Many of the countries involved in World War I had war dog training schools in place prior to the conflict. Out of hiding and free to roam the freighter, Stubby proved popular with the crew. France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Russia all recognized the value of trained dogs on the battlefield. In the division of armed forces history at the Smithsonian National Museum of America History in Washington, there is a fascinating artifact, a testament to Stubby’s fame and the swath he cut across American popular culture in the immediate postwar years. Many veterans were haunted by their experiences in the trenches, but American and military culture did not encourage the airing of battlefield traumas. For his keen instincts and fierce loyalty, Stubby is still recognized today as the most decorated canine in American history and the first promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the U.S. Army. In response, the Times reported, the solider “licked his chops and wagged his diminutive tail.” Sergeant Stubby, a short brindle bull terrier mutt, was officially a decorated hero of World War I. Stubby’s ears are pointed up, and he wears a gruff expression. At Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, a soldier who is missing a foot lights a cigarette for a soldier who is missing both arms, circa 1918. On St. Patrick’s Day, bells and klaxons, the signal of a poison gas attack, rang out along the hillside in the Marne where Stubby and Conroy were stationed. In the Middle Ages, knights outfitted dogs with canine armor; Napoleon used trained dogs as sentinels in the French campaign in Egypt. Stubby and company were placed in support positions to wait for a German breakthrough. Stubby’s rage at the sight of a German was reportedly so “savage,” in the words of an Associated Press account, that “it was found necessary to tie him up when batches of prisoners were being brought back, for fear that trouserless Germans would be reaching the prison pens.”, In the Argonne, Stubby sniffed out a lost German soldier hiding in nearby bushes. You’ve run out of free articles. They established the first military dog school in 1884, and by the start of the Great War, they had almost 7,000 trained dogs. He was recognized for his acts of heroism in several ways. Sergeant Stubby, a short brindle bull terrier mutt, was officially a decorated hero of World War I. Conroy faced a problem: What to do about the dog he had adopted and named Stubby? The highest military rank ever achieved by a dog is in fact Sergeant, which is what Stubby was promoted to in combat for his great courage on the battlefield. By June, however, Stubby had recovered and was back in action. The story of dogs in warfare is an old one, stretching back to antiquity. Despite his postwar stardom, Stubby has faded from memory in the century since the war commenced. The clippings in Conroy’s scrapbook conflict on many particulars of Stubby’s story: Was he wounded in the chest or in the left foreleg in Seicheprey? He looks like a ramrod sergeant: tough, unsmiling, no nonsense, with a coat covered in medals. The 102nd Infantry headquarters were set up near a dangerous spot 1½ miles north of Mandres-aux-Quatre-Tours. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, he was the first dog ever given rank in the U.S. Army. Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated dog of World War I. Another well-known military dog was Sergeant Stubby, a Boston Bull Terrier who served in World War I. Sgt. Sergeant Stubby's true breed The statement that Sergeant Stubby was a pit bull terrier is referenced from a Staffordshire bull terrier club, which provides no sources, quotes or testimonies to back that claim up, instead simply basically saying "it's true because we said it is." By sensing out upcoming danger, he warned them to put on gas masks and ultimately was awarded the credit for saving everyone’s life. Sergeant Stubby at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. Now you might be wondering how other war dogs end up earning their rank. Still, not everyone was captive to Stubby’s charms. French Infantryman Gaston Baptiste befriends the duo and accompanies them along their epic journey through harsh conditions and incredible acts of courage. THE TRUSTED RESOURCE FOR MILITARY FAMILIES, Sergeant Stubby: The Highest Ranking Military Dog in History. The year The process of demobilization was protracted, and troops stayed on for several months after Armistice. When you think of a military dog, what breed comes to mind? The raw troops of the 26th Division were brought to Neufchâteau, in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, to train with more experienced French forces. Airedale terriers were considered good messenger dogs. For his valorous actions, Stubby is recognized as the first canine ever promoted to the rank of Sergeant in … The regiment’s leader, Col. John Henry Parker, was a gruff, intimidating man, a veteran of the Spanish-American War and an expert machine gun tactician who eventually received a Silver Star for extraordinary heroism. In this environment, Sergeant Stubby was an ideal World War I hero, because he was ideally stoic. The most revealing page in the Stubby scrapbook may be the one in which we find a note, inscribed in Conroy’s handwriting: “Criticism of Stubby which proves he is famous.” It is a single page, but its contents show that Stubby-mania wasn’t embraced by all Army veterans. The dog gave chase, eventually dragging the soldier back to the 102nd. Like Rags, Stubby was a stray, and fell in with some soldiers drilling in New Haven, Conn. Cpl. Pvt. The Germans claimed victory, leaving 81 Allied troops killed, 424 wounded, and 130 captured. German Shepherd? Once there, the dogs hauled ammunition, aided soldiers in the work of laying communication lines, and helped transport wounded soldiers to field hospitals. 18th Infrantry, Machine Gun Battalion passing through Saint-Baussant, France, in advance upon Saint-Mihiel front, Sept. 13, 1918. Later, Stubby was injured during a grenade attack, receiving a large amount of shrapnel in his chest and leg. Known as “Dead Man’s Curve” because the hazardous turn required oncoming vehicles to slow down, the location made easy prey for the German artillery. Conroy named the puppy Stubby, and the pup was soon the unofficial mascot of Conroy’s unit, the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. Germany had a long tradition of military dogs and had the war’s best-trained canine force. Almost 3,000 German Stoßtruppen (shock troops) fired on, and overwhelmed, a small contingent of 600 American soldiers from the 26th. Siberian huskies, naturally, were relied on for transport. Sergeant Stubby, most likely a Boston terrier, was America’s first war dog. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History, On a steamy summer morning, news reports would later recount, Stubby wandered onto the massive field, where the soldiers were doing exercises. And you'll never see this message again. Stubby was like a character out of Horatio Alger, or a sentimental one-reel silent movie: an orphan who made his way in the world with perseverance and pluck. Other breeds, other times The puppy’s short tail gave him a name, and the Army gave him a mission. He then spirited the dog down to the hold and hid him in the ship’s coal bin. Heavy winter snows in the Vosges Mountains were holding back French supply lines; mules and horses couldn’t breach the impasse to move artillery and ammunition. He was a nothing dog who became a hero and was honored by three presidents. The 26th would end the war as one of America’s most battle-scarred. 1. Sergeant Stubby served as the infantry’s mascot during World War I. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History. Robert Conroy decided to bring Stubby to France when they shipped out, and smuggled him under his coat. Stubby later took part in the brutal offensives of Saint-Mihiel, Aisne-Marne, and the Champagne-Marne. He attended the 1920 Republican National Convention, which culminated in the nomination of Warren G. Harding. By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. Because they wore the Red Cross symbol, these dogs were, in theory, protected from being shot by the enemy. Fighting was so intense that Maj. George Rau, commander of the 102nd, ordered his cooks, truck drivers, and even the marching band into the fray. On July 6, 1921, a curious gathering took place at the State, War, and Navy Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. At some point during the turbulent Atlantic crossing, Stubby was found out. 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