Airedales were the preferred dog breed used by the British Army in World War I. They were trained by Colonel Richardson, who established the British War Dog School in 1917.
Airedale war dogs were trained for a variety of roles, including scouts, messengers, sentry dogs, patrol dogs, carrier or draught dogs, and Red Cross dogs (also known as ambulance dogs, mercy dogs and sanitary dogs). They saved thousands of lives and over 3,000 Airedales lost their lives serving in World War I.
An Airedale named Buller (also known as Bullet) was one of the first Australian war dogs, along with Nell, a Cross Setter, and Trick, a Collie, to serve for Australia in World War I. Buller served with the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Australian Divisions in France.
Unofficial Mascot/Guard Dog, World War 2, Egyptian Terrier
Horrie the War Dog was the unofficial mascot for the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion of the Second Australian Imperial Force during the Second World War. Early in 1941, Horrie was a stray dog and befriended by Australian soldier Private Jim Moody. Private Moody was serving in the unit when it was stationed in Ikingi Mariut area of the Western Desert, Egypt. Horrie subsequently followed the battalion throughout various locations in the Middle East, Greece and Crete and was adopted as their unofficial mascot.
Horrie was intelligent and easily trained. Although the unofficial mascot, he acted as a guard dog and many times gave early warning of the approach of enemy aircraft, saving many lives. He was promoted to the rank of Corporal. He survived the sinking of the Costa Rica on which the unit was being evacuated from Greece to Crete. In Crete, he was wounded by a bomb splinter, which had to be removed with a knife. Horrie was smuggled back to Australia in 1942 when Private Moody was repatriated.
In early 2016, a sculpture in Horrie’s memory was installed at the Man from Snowy River Museum, 103 Hansen St, Corryong.
Tracker Dog D6N03, South Vietnam, Black Labrador Cross
Originally purchased from a Sydney dog pound, Caesar was trained in Australia by Private Phil Little and Private Peter Haran. Caesar was deployed to South Vietnam with 2 RAR/NZ in 1967. His handler was Private Peter Haran. Caesar later served with 1 RAR (1968-1969), followed by 5 RAR (1969-1970) and 7 RAR (1970-1971). He was retired in September 1970 and was given a new home at the British Embassy in Saigon.
Explosives Detection Dog EDD 476, Afghanistan, Kelpie Cross
Herbie was trained as an Explosives Detection Dog in Brisbane when he was two years old. He was paired with Sapper Darren Smith who was a combat engineer. They developed a very close working relationship and trained closely for six months. In March 2010 they were deployed together to Afghanistan with Mentoring Task Force 1. Their duties included conducting foot patrols out of Patrol Base Wali with Mentoring Team Alpha as part of a broader strategy to deny the Taliban access to the Mirabad Valley.
On the morning of 7 June 2010, Mentoring Team Alpha conducted a routine foot patrol from Patrol Base Wali. Herbie had located an explosives device and they were investigating the metal signature on the footpad of a creek bed when it was triggered remotely by the Taliban. The blast killed Herbie, and mortally wounded Sapper Darren Smith. Herbie’s ashes are buried with Sapper Darren Smith at the Pinnaroo Lawn Cemetery and Crematorium in Brisbane.
The National Military and Service Working Dog Memorial located at Wacol, Queensland is in memory of Herbie and Sapper Darren Smith.
Explosives Detection Dog EDD 436, Afghanistan, Black Labrador Cross Newfoundland
Sarbi is one of the best known Australian military working dogs. She was an Explosives Detection Dog attached to the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) in Orūzgān Province, Afghanistan. During a Taliban ambush on the 2nd September 2008 (during the action for which Trooper Mark Donaldson was awarded the Victoria Cross), Sarbi was separated from her handler Warrant Officer David Simpson when a bullet cut through her lead.
Sarbi spent almost 14 months missing in action in Afghanistan in an area that was a Taliban stronghold. Somehow she survived and was found by an American soldier. She was reunited with Australian forces and her handler, and was repatriated to Australia. On return to Australia, Sarbi spent five years in retirement, living with handler Warrant Officer David Simpson and his family.
On 5 April 2011, Sarbi was awarded an RSPCA Purple Cross Award at the Australian War Memorial. The medal recognises the deeds of animals that have shown outstanding service to humans, particularly if they showed exceptional courage in risking their own safety or life to save a person from injury or death.
Sarbi died of a brain cancer on 27 March 2015 at the age of 12 years. Sarbi has a dog park located at Warner, Queensland named in her honour. In October 2016 Sarbi’s preserved body was unveiled as part of a permanent exhibition at the Australian War Memorial.
Special Operations Combat Assault Dog SO 009, Afghanistan, Belgian Malinois
Devil was born in April 2009 and was raised and trained by a civilian breeder until 2010. He was trialled in mid-late 2010 and posted to the Special Air Services Regiment. He was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2011 with Special Operations Task Group 15 with his first handler Corporal Mark Donaldson, Victoria Cross recipient.
His second deployment to Afghanistan was in February 2012. He was killed in action on the 2nd July 2012 when fire fight ensued between the Task Group Patrol and insurgents. Devil was targeted by an insurgent at close range and killed instantly by small-arms fire. Corporal Mark Donaldson said that he developed a very strong bond with Devil. When he was having a bad day his outlook improved just by giving Devil a pat and telling him his thoughts, or tickling him behind the ear. He also said that on numerous occasions Devil had saved his life and the lives of many others.
After Devil’s death the Commanding Officer said that “The loss of Devil had a big impact on the task group. Personnel, who worked closely with him, have formed extremely close bonds so his death has affected them. He was a much loved member of the task group and would be sorely missed.”
Devil’s body was repatriated back to Australia. Devil is remembered at the Two Wells RSL commemorative park for those who died serving in Afghanistan.