A dog and a US Marine who is comfortably occupying a “fighting hole” in Guam, during World War II; 1944
This happened next:
While the Army had put war dogs to good use already, mainly for sentry and guard duties, World War II was the first organized deployment of canine warriors by the Marine Corps, and the Marines intended to bring the dogs into the field, sniffing out enemy positions to warn of ambushes and ferrying messages back and forth.
Only a select few were accepted into service, and even then they would undergo rigorous training to prepare them for life in the combat zone. In total, 1,074 dogs were ‘enlisted’ in the Marine Corps, and 29 would die in combat, along with just under 200 fatalities from disease or accidents. After a year of organization and training, the 1st Marine War Dog Platoon entered action on Bougainville on November 1st, 1943. During the long ride through the Pacific, the handlers were considered to be pretty strange, and their mission was questioned by many, but once they entered combat, the value of the “Devil Dogs” was pretty quickly apparent, and Marine War Dogs would serve through the end of the war.
After the war, an outcry ended plans to euthanize the remaining veteran animals, and instead they were put through demilitarization training, with almost universal success. Many were returned to their families, although in more than a few cases, the Marine handler would bring the dog back to civilian life with him.
War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love:
A corporal aims a Colt M1895 atop a Sri Lankan Elephant. The M1895 was developed by John Browning during the 1890s, it was a belt-fed, air cooled, gas operated machine gun. As the weapon was air cooled it did not require the water cooling system used by the Maxim Gun, as a result it was much lighter weighing just 35 lbs.
The M1895 was lever actuated which meant that the gun was cocked by retracting the lever and once the first round was fired the propellant gas was tapped from a gas port several inches from the muzzle this gas pushed the lever down and swung it back towards the receiver to cock the gun for the next round. If the gun’s tripod was set too low, or impeded by cover, then the lever would catch any obstruction, as a result it quickly became known as the ‘potato digger’ by troops. There looks to be more than enough clearance on top of the elephant.
While there is historical precedent for the use of elephants in warfare for over 1000 years, used by the Persians, Alexander the Great, Indian Sultans, Siamese warriors who mounted Jingals (small guns often mounted on walls) on elephants well into the 1880s, and later by the British Army in India as pack animals capable of carrying mountain guns and supplies over difficult terrain. Why the corporal is atop the elephant is a mystery but it was never a weapons platform adopted by the US Army.