Stubby was the official mascot of the 26th “Yankee” Division during the First World War. He joined the rank and file of the 102nd Infantry Regiment at Yale Field in New Haven, CT in the Spring of 1917. He was a stray brindle terrier puppy of unknown origin and exact breed, but appeared to be several weeks old at the time he was found. Throughout his lifetime including his military service, his caretaker and master was John Robert Conroy of Pittsfield, Mass.
During his time in training camp, Stubby became familiar with the bugle calls, marching drills and even learned to give a dog’s version of a salute with his right paw to his eyebrow when he saw others around him doing the same. Stubby’s positive effect on the morale of the troops earned him the right to remain in camp even though animals were not allowed.
In September, 1917 Stubby was smuggled aboard the USS Minnesota at Newport News, VA and sailed to France with the 102nd Infantry. He was hidden in a coal bin until the ship was too far out to sea to turn back. Once in France, Stubby was finally discovered by Pvt. Conroy’s commanding officer but was given special orders allowing him to remain with the troops as their official mascot. Following his master’s preliminary training in trench warfare, Stubby went into the front lines and was in the trenches by February 5, 1918.
Fitted with his own gas mask, Stubby experienced multiple gas attacks and became skilled at warning the troops when gas was approaching their positions. He was credited with saving sleeping men in his company by running through the trenches while barking and tugging at their legs to wake them. When the gas alarm sounded, Stubby would leave the trench to avoid the gas until it cleared away.
Stubby also became an expert at locating wounded soldiers in “no man’s land” by listening for voices speaking in English. He would then slip out through the barbed wire, find them and either lead them back to the line or bark for medics to respond. Stubby became the first dog to be formally granted rank in the U.S. Armed Forces when he received an honorary promotion to Sergeant after directly assisting in the capture of a German soldier during a patrol in “no man’s land.”
On April 20, 1918 Stubby was wounded in the right foreleg and chest by shrapnel from a German grenade during the fighting at Seicheprey. He was treated at a field hospital, and following surgery was moved to a recovery area where he convalesced and also improved the morale of the nursing staff and other wounded troops.
Stubby participated in 17 engagements and four major campaigns including those at Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne. He earned one Wound Chevron (predecessor to the Purple Heart) and three Overseas Service Chevrons for his time in the lines (one for every 6 months Over There).
Following the Armistice, Stubby met President Woodrow Wilson when the President visited the 102nd Infantry in France on Christmas Day, 1918. When the 102nd returned to the United States in early Spring of 1919, Stubby was again smuggled aboard ship for the voyage home.
Stubby became a life member of the American Legion, American Red Cross and the YMCA. He continued to live a full life into the mid 1920’s and followed his master to Georgetown University Law School where he was also named the school mascot. Stubby passed away in his master’s arms on March 16, 1926 and was preserved for posterity with the assistance of the Smithsonian Institution.
Today Stubby’s remains are on display as part of the Smithsonian exhibit The Price of Freedom: Americans at War in Washington, D.C. where he can be seen still standing at the ready and wearing his decorations on a chamois service blanket made for him by the grateful women of Chateau-Thierry, France. Stubby was also honored with a brick in the Walk of Honor at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri on Novermber 11, 2006.
Special Thanks to Terry Waldron for permission to display her original oil artwork “Sgt. Stubby–WWI War Dog.” This work may not be reproduced without express permission of the artist. Please follow the link for Terry James Art & Frame at http://www.terryjamesart.com/ in order to procure this and other fine works of original historical art.