Saturday, 26th August, is National Dog Day, and to celebrate Man’s Best Friend, we thought we’d have a look back through the archives at some of the dog and tank-related images that have been photographed over the years.
The role of animals, in particular the horse, have played a large and important part in the history of warfare, but as these images show, pets, such as dogs, have also had a supporting impact on the morale of combatants, even if they are not directly involved in any actual combat. Their special ability is how they provide a focus, a comfort, and a welcome distraction in times of stress or boredom, whether on the eve of battle or whiling away the hours on long overseas postings.
These mascots, whose term signifies something that brings good luck, deriving from the Provençal French word for `witch’, can belong to individuals, for instance, their own pets, or as stray animals adopted by soldiers when overseas.
Military Mascots can also be adopted by entire regiments, where their care and welfare is looked after by the regiment itself. The first recorded British Army mascot was a wild goat adopted by the Royal Welch Fusiliers, which ran ahead of the Regiment’s colours at the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 1775. By World War Two, there was even an Allied Forces Mascot Club, which kept a log of all the mascots who had a `good war record’.
Attention!! Major Mutt on parade
It’s difficult not to be anthropomorphic with an image as cute as this, but unfortunately the dog’s name is unknown, as is the photograph’s provenance, which sadly limits the amount of additional detail that can be imparted. However, what can be discerned is the RTC badge with King’s crown, black beret, swagger stick, sunglasses, and collar, along with the location, which suggests the Royal Tank Corps circa 1930s.
Perched atop the muddy tracks of F4, a Mark IV female, stands Jock, who looks suspiciously like he’s trying to spot a safe way back down to the ground. Just to the left of Jock can be seen the tank’s un-ditching beam support rail, and directly below Jock, a Four of Hearts playing card has been carefully painted just above the track tensioner. The officer is Major Inglis, D.S.O., who commanded 16th Company, F Battalion, Tank Corps, and may be Jock’s owner.
Note the wound stripe on his left sleeve. F.4 used the name FLIRT and later FLIRT II, and was one of four tanks in No.1 Section, 16th Company, that took part in the Battle of Cambrai on 20th November 1917. Interestingly, for many years, the Museum’s Mark IV Female, currently on loan at Lincoln, had been marked up as FLIRT II, but recent research has identified her as a different tank, D42 from D Battalion, with the fate of the original FLIRT II being to a German repair base at Charleroi following her abandonment near Bourlon Wood.
With the Mark IV safely stopped, Lieutenant Atherton, F Battalion, tries to entice the puppy with a treat. He’s clearly caught the dog’s attention. The tank is another female, F.10, from F Battalion, circa June or early July 1917. Atherton still has the crossed MGs cap badge of the Heavy Branch Machine Gun Corps, which means that it was before the battalion took part in the Battle at Third Ypres. Note the winking, smiling face drawn in the zero, which gives the impression that a clown-like crew member is looking out.
The view from the turret
Staring straight into the camera and safely supported by a smiling Tankie, this dog gives the impression that it knows the photographer well. The Armoured Car they are both on, is a 1920 Pattern Rolls Royce belonging to 3rd Armoured Car Company. 3rd ACC were based in Egypt from June 1920 and received eight Rolls Royce Armoured Cars that August. By March 1927, 3rd ACC had swapped their 1920 Pattern cars for the 1924 Pattern cars. Note the light fixed to the turret’s side.