25 May 2013

26th QMC War Dog Platoon on Biak

Image size: 1600 x 1316 pixel. 701 KB
Date: Tuesday, 18 July 1944
Place: Biak, New Guinea
Photographer: Unknown

Canines of the QM War Dog Platoon were used on Biak Island, off the coast of New Guinea, to track down Japanese hidden in caves and jungle fastness. One of these dogs is seen here, at the order to attack, straining at the leash. The 26th Quartermaster Corps War Dog Platoon, attached to the US Army's 41st Infantry Division, has six war dogs for patrolling the front lines. The dogs could detect the Japanese presence at 75 yards (69 meters) giving confidence to soldiers and allowing them to move more quickly through the jungle without fear of ambush. The 26th QMC war dogs were in active combat throughout the Pacific War. Initially American GIs were distrustful of the dogs, fearing they would give away their position, but they soon realized how valuable the dogs were. They saved many lives. Beginning on March 13, 1942, the Quartermaster Corps ran the Army's so-called "K-9 Corps" and undertook to change these new recruits into good fighting "soldiers." At first more than thirty breeds were accepted. Later the list was narrowed down to German Shepherds, Belgian Sheep Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Farm Collies and Giant Schnauzers. In all, a little over 19,000 dogs were procured between 1942 and 1945 (about 45% of these were rejected as unsuited for training). The capture of Biak Island cost the Americans 474 killed, and 2,400 wounded, the Japanese lost 6,100 killed and 450 captured. 

NARA (National Archives) Identifier 531196. Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1985 (ARC identifier: 440). Series: Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity, compiled 1754 - 1954 (ARC identifier: 530707). NAIL Control Number: NWDNS-111-SC-191760

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