Some brief notes.
War Dog School of Instruction
Established as a unit of the Corps of Royal Engineers at Shoeburyness in Essex. Relocated to Lyndhurst in Hampshire in late 1918 and was later at Bulford in Wiltshire.
Formed by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) Edwin Heautenville Richardson with assistance from Company Sergeant Major Batten, a former inspector of the RSPCA. The 1911 census gave Richardson as “Major (retired) trainer of war and police dogs”.
The dogs were trained for duties in message carrying, guarding and “acting as sentries”. This, to some extent, enabled men to be released from such work for other duties.
In the summer of 1918, Richardson was asked to double the number of dogs being supplied, for their work had been proving to be most valuable.
It is said that some 1400 dogs were trained.
Dogs were initially provided by the Homes for Lost Dogs at Battersea, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool and then by the police from unclaimed strays.
The dogs supplied were Great Danes, Mastiffs, St Bernards, Newfoundlands, Dalmations, Collies, Lurchers, Airedales and crossbred sheepdogs. Nothing was to be smaller than an Airedale, no bitches were to be sent, and dogs must be aged between 18 months and five years.
Newspapers on 3 December 1918 reported that the police were to supply no more dogs to the school.
It is reported that dog handlers were created from recruits who had been gamekeepers, hunt servants and shepherds.
It is reported that dogs from the War Dog School served in France and Salonika. The only definite details I have traced so far are that:
Le Havre Base reported the arrival of 5 men and 10 dogs on 13 July 1917. Two days later, 1 man and 2 dogs left to join XV Corps and the rest went to Fifth Army.
A further 9 men and 20 dogs landed there on 19 July 1917. On 27 July, 1 man and 4 dogs left to join Fourth Army and the rest went to Fifth Army.
The work of the war dogs
Extract from “Work of the Royal Engineers in the European war, 1914-19: Signal Service (France)” by R. E. Priestley (1921), pages 222-224
War diary of Le Havre Base. National Archives WO95/4031.
British Newspaper Archive.
“Work of the Royal Engineers in the European war, 1914-19: Signal Service (France)” by R. E. Priestley (1921)