World War II Patriotic cover
"Enlist Your Dog For Defense!"
A GI (enlisted man) and his patrol dog are central to this cachet design by Matthew J. Huss whose signatory device is Diana. This was Design 23 in the cachet series by Huss of Evanston, Illinois.
In January 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American Kennel Association and a new group calling itself 'Dogs for Defense' mobilized dog owners across the country to donate quality animals to the Army's Quartermaster Corps for a sentry dog program. The American Theatre Wing War Service also participated in this program.
During World War I, over a million dogs served with the opposing armies. And at the end of that war, under the Treaty of Versailles, the German Army was allowed to continue training dogs for military use. By the mid-1930's a large training center established near Frankfurt was buying, breeding, and training dogs for military and police use so that by 1941 about 200,000 German military and police dogs had been trained at the center. Another 25,000 trained military dogs were given to the Japanese government for its war effort against the Chinese.
In early 1942 the United States was playing catch-up. Initially the Quartermaster Corps only envisioned a need for 200 animals to serve as sentry dogs. By July of that year, the Secretary of War enlarged the scope of the War Dog Program to train animals for patrol, messenger, and mine detection duties and train enlisted men as handlers. Selected animals received experimental training in message carrying, wire laying, pack carrying, first aid, scout, attack, and trail work. By fall 1942 the Program was procuring and training dogs for the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.
Practically all dog breeds were used in the early years of the war. By fall 1944 the preferred breeds for multi-task war duties were German Shepherds, Belgian Sheep dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Collies, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Eskimo dogs and mixed breeds of the same. The Program found that maximum age for dogs intended for tactical service was two years; the optimal colors were neutral grey, black, tan or salt and pepper; the shoulder height, 20-26 inches; and weight, 40-80 pounds.
The Army's Remount Branch, usually responsible for the training of horses and mules, oversaw the new dog training program — turning family pets, even those of Hollywood stars, into fighting soldiers. Five training centers were established throughout the country — Front Royal, Virginia; Fort Robinson, Nebraska; Camp Rimini, Montana; San Carlos, California; and Gulfport, Mississippi. Of these, Fort Robinson was the largest — training 14,000 dogs between 1942 and 1946. Small temporary centers were also created at Fort Washington and Beltsville, Maryland and Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to train mine detection dogs. A camp was even established near Honolulu, Hawaii.
United States one-cent Scott 804 and two-cent Scott 907 are tied to the cover by the postmark: Evanston, Illinois, October 14, 1943.
Quartermaster Museum, Quartermaster Foundation (www.qmfound.com/K-9.htm)