During World War II, our British allies were the first to use parachuting pooches with their army's newly formed airborne regiments; their special SAS forces, also used them as well behind enemy's lines in both North Africa and France.
The search and rescue sections of the No. Atlantic Transport Command, U.S. Army Air Corp began its own experimenting
in 1942, with the dropping of dogs, their sleds, and a flight surgeon by parachute directly to crash scene in the frozen north; where a quick response could mean the difference in the survival of an injured flier or crew.
The Army parachute dogs wore a coat like harness, lined with sheep skin, developed by the QMC. It was found, that two dogs could be dropped together with a twenty-eight ft. chute, while one could land safely with the regulation twenty-four foot chute.
Most of the experimentation was conducted at Fort Nelson, British Columbia, under the direction of a Major Joseph F. Westover. The knowledge that was learnt there, was to enable scout dogs to be used by the U.S. Army Airborne troops in Europe.
The war dog, Jaint de Mortimormey reputedly made more jumps during World War II than any man. Although no training was ever formally adopted for parachuting pooches, they were used quite extenively during the war.
There's a story told about a poor doberman, who was unceremoniously kicked out the door of a plane, with a special parachute attached to a static line. Part of a special airborne unit, the dog shortly after landing, started to growled, and sure enough, coming over a rise were four germans, who never made it back to the fatherland.
Was World War II the first use of parachuting pooches?
Surprisely...no...although they weren't part of any formal program or even an un
official outfit, there were some mascot dogs, like Jeff pictured above, who were parachuting with their masters, as early as 1920, shortly after the Great War. Jeff alone made thirteen jumps, twelve successfully, he was the mascot of the 120th Colorado Air National Guard.
SEE ALSO: WWIIOL