- During World War II, the British Army trained dogs to jump out of airplanes with soldiers. This crossbred Collie, Rob, reportedly made 20 jumps and took part in the North African landing. Here, the paradog is presented with the Dickin Medal for animal gallantry in Feb. 1945. There is even a children's book about him: Rob the Paradog.
- The Alsatian-Collie mix Brian attended the War Dog Training School in Hertfordshire. In 1941, the British War Office had made radio appeals for dog owners to lend their hounds to the war effort. This led to the first batch of animals at the training school -- though the sheer number of people trying to get rid of their dogs during the war soon made it somewhat of a shelter. Among these animals was the 2-year-old dog Brian. Here, Brian is shown with Betty Fetch, his original owner.
- Brian and Betty Fetch reunited after the war: On D-Day, Brian (then known as Bing) parachuted under heavy anti-aircraft fire onto the Continent. He was there when the Allies liberated Normandy. A few months before the war's end, he parachuted into western Germany, from where he marched to the Baltic Sea.
- During World War II, the 13th (Lancashire) Parachute Battalion started an adventurous experiment as it prepared for D-Day: enlisting dogs into their ranks. The so-called “paradogs” (short for “parachuting dogs”) were specifically trained to perform tasks such as locating mines, keeping watch and warning about enemies. As a side job, they also served as something of a mascot for the two-legged troops.
- The dogs, which would be given minimal food and water before the jump, were being prepared to parachute into Normandy for D-Day landing and would freeze if they heard a sound. They were also trained to become familiar with loud noises and smells such as cordite, the explosive powder. Their handlers would carry a piece of meat in their pockets on the aircraft so as they parachuted out the “paradogs” would jump out after them.
- The squadron dog had an important role in squadron life, and some dogs were given official status as “Squadron Mascot” such as the spaniel Straddle of 422 Squadron or the Vietnam Thud drivers’ legendary Roscoe, of the 34th TFS. But the vast majority of these welcome creatures were simply the stray puppy or the starving mutt that haunted the chow line or the flightline.
(Source: Andrew Woolhouse - http://www.spiegel.de/)
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