Sergeant Stubby — A dog who became a soldier and saved a U.S. troop.
In this photo taken around 1920, the brave dog is proudly displayed wearing a mug with numerous medals pinned to it. The Boston terrier named Stubby survived 17 battles and at one point even held a higher military rank than his owner.
Stubby was a true celebrity of his time, matching the fame of the biggest movie stars. The animal was characterized by great cleverness and skills, which proved extremely valuable in the frontline conditions of the First World War. His fame continued unabated even as many countries were still licking their wounds at the end of the global conflict.
Not surprisingly, when a ceremony was held at the White House on July 6, 1921, to award the adorable dog a special medal from the Humane Education Society, it drew a crowd of reporters and photographers.
“Stubby, a brindle Boston terrier who served overseas as the mascot of the American Expeditionary Forces, was decorated today as a World War hero by General John Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of American forces in Europe during that conflict. (…) During the presentation of the decoration, General Pershing made a short speech, which, however, did not elicit a response from Stubby. The dog just licked his lips and wagged his little tail. (…) Stubby seems shy now and showed some signs of nervousness when photographers fired flashes during the ceremony, but there was a time when the big guns could not scare him.” — The New York Times, July 7, 1921.
Stubby’s appearance in the ranks of the US Army was decided by chance. It is not known who his original owner was. The stray dog wandered around the campus of American Yale University, where military exercises were conducted in 1917. The dog eventually caught the attention of Private Robert Conroy, who decided to take him in. He gave him the name Stubby, which referred to the dog’s short and thick tail.
In February 1918. Conroy went to the front, violating a military regulation that prohibited transporting animals. However, the commanding officer allowed Stubby to stay because Stubby was supposedly going to perform a trick that a private had taught him earlier. To the surprise of Conroy’s superior officer, the dog extended his right paw and… saluted him. This is how Stubby ended up in France, where he became the unofficial mascot of the 102nd Infantry Battalion, 26th Division. At the front, the animal not only made the soldiers’ time pleasant, but also rescued them from trouble.
According to media reports and accounts from that time, the Americans taught Stubby to recognize the sound of the German language, which was supposed to put him in a fighting mood. This skill proved extremely valuable, as the dog once detected a spy who had sneaked into the U.S. Army ransomware to draw up plans. A German soldier — unaware of Stubby’s talents — began to calm him down for fear that he would awaken the Americans with his barking. Sensitive to enemy language, the foursome then grabbed the spy by the leg, and his growling alerted soldiers from the 102nd Infantry Battalion.
For exposing the German spy, Stubby was promoted to the rank of sergeant. This made him a higher rank than Conroy, who held the rank of corporal at the time. Another useful trait of the four-legged soldier was an extremely sensitive sense of smell. In the conditions of the Great War, during which chemical weapons were used, this was a skill that could save lives. On one occasion, Stubby woke up the soldiers by barking loudly, smelling mustard gas in the air. The soldiers put on their gas masks in time. Had it not been for Stubby, who sensed the danger in time, his two-legged companions might never have woken up again.
He met three US presidents
For his heroic actions, the doggie received numerous decorations, including the Purple Heart, the American Legion Medal and the French Commemorative Medal of the Great War. His collection also included the German Iron Cross, stripped from his POW uniform, and a special gold commemorative medal with Stubby’s name on it.
Even before completing his 18 months of service, Stubby had become very recognizable in the United States. A French apartment, hearing about the extraordinary dog soldier, sewed a special coat for him, on which the quadruped could proudly wear all the medals. After the end of the Great War, Stubby took part in ceremonial military parades. He was also a guest at the White House, where he met as many as three U.S. presidents and became the mascot of the local soccer team.
Stubby died on March 16, 1926 at the age of 10. The obituary that appeared the next day in The New York Times ran to half a page. That’s more than the paper devoted to other famous Americans at the time. Conroy cremated the corpse of his four-legged companion and donated it, along with medals, to the Smithsonian Institution in 1956. Currently, they may be seen in the National Museum of American History.
Iconic photo — on the day Hitler died, she bathed in his bathtub.
American photojournalist Lee Miller captured the atrocities of World War II. They included images of bombed-out London…
Did you like the article? If so, leave a comment or some claps. It encourages me to keep working and writing interesting pieces. Follow me if you wish — new articles are posted here daily! Thank you!