WW2 MWD Military Work Dogs

Jul 2018
Hello from Wisconsin ! Thank you for having me . My main interest in this forum is to learn more information on Military Work Dogs and their stories . I have read several books about MWD's from WW2 to the present . I have 4 years worth of letters from a Glenn Ormsom from Wisconsin about his time in service . His dog was Bruce #178. Both were wounded on North Luzon and survived the war . I also study and collect Wisconsin Civil War items.


Ad Honoris
May 2011
Navan, Ireland
Hello from Wisconsin ! Thank you for having me . My main interest in this forum is to learn more information on Military Work Dogs and their stories . I have read several books about MWD's from WW2 to the present . I have 4 years worth of letters from a Glenn Ormsom from Wisconsin about his time in service . His dog was Bruce #178. Both were wounded on North Luzon and survived the war . I also study and collect Wisconsin Civil War items.

Not sure if this is what you are looking for but you may well love the story.

Judy, a purebred liver-and-white English pointer, born in Shanghai beaten by Japanese marines, she was rescued and had become a mascot for a British Royal Navy ship based there. Her keen ear had made do as 'Radar' was she'd start to snarl and growl at the approach of Japanese aircraft long before the sailors heard. By January 1942 she was aboard the H.M.S. Grasshopper, a 585-ton gunboat stationed in Singapore.

The gunboat escaped the disaster and Singapore only to be sunk as it neared safety, the survivors were marooned on a waterless island-- until Judy sniffed out an underground spring of fresh water.

Taken prisoners (after trekking across Java and fighting a crocodile -- winning of course she is in the RN!) the sailors hide and protect her-- a favour she returns, she also meets the love of her life aircraftsman Williams of the RAF they became inseparable.

".........Judy quickly earned herself a reputation as the protector of not only Williams but of all the prisoners in the camp—garnering the appreciation of the men and the disdain of the prison guards.

The uplift she afforded the POWs alone was enough to draw the ire of their Japanese captors, but it was the way she fearlessly intervened when the guards would beat a prisoner that put her hazardously close to death. Without hesitation she would fly to the side of the man taking the beating, snarling and growling to protect whomever it was, which usually meant the guards would pause from hitting the man and turn their aggression on the dog, hitting her with the butts of their rifles.

Knowing that this wouldn't be tolerated for long, Williams believed that the only way to keep her from being shot was to get her official POW status. And so he devised a plan. He waited for the camp's commandant his fill of saki, knowing the Japanese officer was a happy, pliable drunk. Williams's calculation—and nerve—paid off; the commandant agreed and from then on Judy was POW 81A...."

She was now an official POW -- still any dangers ahead of her.

Not least of all when they were put on a 'hellship' which was duly torpedoed by the USN.

In the chaos and as it looked like all was lost Williams pushed Judy through a porthole to give her at least a chance of survival.

In the chaos of wreak age Judy swam about herding Allied POWs to the floats, shed come in dragging a survivor to almost immediately set off into the darkness to bring another man inletting them hold on to her back while she herself swam them to safety. Some said she arrived with barking and a friendly lick but if through exhaustion and despair you didn't follow the nips and then dragging would follow.

She survived as did Williams, they were re-united and both survived the war.


Good book about her



Forum Staff
Mar 2008
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
Interesting stuff. Welcome to the forum. Enjoy!!


Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
Welcome! I have not yet read the book, but Always Faithful: A Memoir of the Marine Dogs of WWII[/b] may be of interest to you. It was written by a man who commanded one of the war dog platoons during the war.

I stumbled across this moving excerpt from his book awhile back:

Marine Dogs of World War II

Converted for the Web from "Always Faithful: A Memoir of the Marine Dogs of WWII" by William W. Putney

Less than twenty-four hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded Guam, an American possession. The small Pacific island, virtually defenseless, held out for only four days. For the next two and a half years, the brave people of Guam endured a horrible occupation: they were starved, beaten, and herded into concentration camps. Many of Guam's people were summarily shot for crimes they did not commit. Some were beheaded. No other American civilians suffered so much under so brutal a conqueror.

On July 21, 1944, the Americans struck back. The battle for Guam lasted only a few weeks, until August 10, 1944, when the island was declared secured. In those weeks, American Marine, Army, and Navy casualties exceeded 7,000. An estimated 18,500 Japanese were killed, and another 8,000 Japanese remained hidden in the jungle refusing to surrender.

Among our dead were 25 dogs, specially trained by the U.S. Marines to search out the enemy hiding in the bush, detect mines and booby traps, alert troops in foxholes at night to approaching Japanese, and to carry messages, ammunition and medical supplies. They were buried in a small section of the Marine Cemetery, in a rice paddy on the landing beach at Asan that became known as the War Dog Cemetery.

I was the commanding officer of the 3rd War Dog Platoon during the battle for Guam. Lieutenant William T. Taylor and I led 110 men and 72 dogs through training, first at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; then at Camp Pendleton, California; later on Guadalcanal and then into battle on Guam.

Most of the young Marines were assigned to the war dog program only by a twist of fate. Some had never owned a dog in their lives, and some were even afraid of them. But trained as dog handlers, they were expected to scout far forward of our lines, in treacherous jungle terrain, searching for Japanese soldiers hidden in caves or impenetrable thickets. Under these circumstances, the rifles we carried were often useless; a handler's most reliable weapons were his dog's highly developed senses of smell and hearing, which could alert him far in advance of an enemy ambush or attack, or the presence of a deadly mine, so he could warn in turn the Marines who followed behind at a safer distance. It was one of the most dangerous jobs in World War II, and more dogs were employed by the 2nd and 3rd Platoons on Guam than in all of the other battles in the Pacific.

During the course of the war, 15 of the handlers in the 2nd and 3rd Platoons were killed: 3 at Guam, 4 on Saipan and 8 on Iwo Jima. These men were among the bravest and best-trained Marines of World War II, and were awarded the medals to prove it. During the course of some of the war's most vicious battles -- Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa -- they were awarded five Silver Stars and seven Bronze Stars for heroism in action, and more than forty Purple Hearts for wounds received in battle.

In these battles, as in their training, the men learned to depend on their dogs and to trust their dogs' instincts with their lives. Yet when I returned home from overseas, I found that rather than spend the time and expense to detrain the dogs, our military had begun to destroy them. Our dogs, primarily Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds, had been recruited from the civilian population with the promise that they be returned, intact, when the war ended. Now, however, higher-ups argued that these dogs suffered from the "junkyard dog" syndrome: they were killers. Higher-ups were wrong. I lobbied for the right to detrain these dogs and won. Our program of deindoctrination was overwhelmingly successful: out of the 549 dogs that returned from the war, only 4 could not be detrained and returned to civilian life. Household pets once, the dogs became household pets again. In many cases, in fact, because the original, civilian owners were unable or unwilling to take the dogs back, the dogs went home with the handlers that they had served so well during the war.

* * *
More than fifty years have passed since the Battle of Guam. The dogs, of course, are long gone, and to the annual reunions fewer and fewer veterans of the war dog platoons return. Although it was a small chapter in the history of that worldwide conflagration, the story of the war dog platoons is significant. The dogs proved so valuable on Guam that every Marine division was assigned a war dog platoon and they paved the way for the many dogs that have followed them in the armed services, most famously in Vietnam.

For their contribution to the war effort, the dogs paid a dear price, but the good they did was still far out of proportion to the sacrifice they made. They and their handlers led over 550 patrols on Guam alone, and encountered enemy soldiers on over half of them, but were never once ambushed. They saved hundreds of lives, including my own.

This book is dedicated to the memory of those loving, courageous and faithful dogs of the 2nd and 3rd War Dog Platoons. They embodied the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis.

Rest in peace, dear ones.

Marine Dogs of World War II