WWII Animals (1941-1945)

Animals have been used to aid military efforts for thousands of years. The U.S. military in WWII enlisted animals to carry supplies, transmit messages, track enemies, protect troops, and more.

An estimated 20,000 dogs served in various U.S. Military branches during WWII. Dogs were used as guards, to carry supplies and messages, to scout out enemy territory, and on search and rescue missions. Sometimes dogs merely provided comfort during battle. 

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Pfc. Rez P. Hester of the Marine Corps Seventh War Dog Platoon, napping while Butch stands guard (Iwo Jima, February, 1945).

Horses carried soldiers in Europe on patrol missions and in the Pacific Theater were even used in battles.

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An Army remount squad of horses being corralled by Cpl. Harley Peterson  (New Caledonia, October 20, 1943). 

Thousands of mules and donkeys were trained in the U.S. and shipped to war zones worldwide to transport weapons, food, other supplies, and sometimes even infantry. 

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Army Sgt. Richard Wallen with donkey Edda (named after Benito Mussolini's daughter) (Italy, April, 1944).  

During WWII, U.S. military units worldwide adopted animal mascots. These animals, adopted by the squad, company, or ship, were sometimes orphaned by war, and other times were an individual soldier's pet. 

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Cpl. William Wende brushing his Army unit's mascot, GI Jenny while Pito the terrier watches (North Africa, Ca. 1943). 

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Marine Cpl. Edward Burckhardt found this kitten on Iwo Jima (February, 1945).

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Army Pfc. Raymond Gasiorowski walking his company's pet dog named Leipzig (Leipzig, Germany, April 19, 1945). 

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About the Author

Ari Siegel is the founder and CEO of HistoryByMail.com and
HistoricCartoons.com. After growing up hearing WWII stories from both of his
grandfathers, he studied history at the University of Michigan. While working
in Washington D.C. and giving tours of the U.S. Capitol building, he was
inspired to take some of the thousands of historic documents that belong to the
American people, and make them more accessible.