The Quiet Americans - A History of Military Working Dogs Part 3
(Reprinted with permission from: Ron Aiello President The United States War Dogs Association and credit to SSgt Tracy L. English Office of History 37th Training Wing Lackland AFB, 15 December 2000 The Quiet Americans: A History of Military Working Dogs)
North Africa was the proving ground for the Quartermaster Corps’ use of canines on the battlefield.
On 8 November 1942, before setting out to sea, the 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry, 3d Division obtained dogs from Front Royal, Virginia, the Quartermaster Remount section. While on board ship, the handlers met their charges for the first time and immediately engaged in last minute training.
On D-Day the dogs were extremely gun shy as they cowered in fear from the munitions exploding around them. But once they began their sentry duty on the battle lines, the dogs were praised with being far more alert and responsive then their handlers.
Major Charles E. Johnson, 3rd Battalion commander, recommended that future dogs be exposed to sounds from the battlefield while still in training. He hoped that this would acclimate the dogs to the harsh sounds of battle so they would not be frightened by it during actual conflict.
Unfortunately, due to the large demand for dogs the U.S. entry into the war created the Dogs for Defense group was woefully unable to keep up the pace.
In June 1942, the Army transferred control of the procurement and training of dogs to the Remount Branch, Service Installations Division.
Previously the Remount Branch had responsibility for procuring horses and mules for military service, so they were in good condition to switch up their procedures to procure dogs.
The first large request for dogs came on July 1 from Camp Hale in Colorado,which requested over 100 dogs for use as messenger, sledge and scout dogs.