Heartwarming Photos of GIs and Their Dogs in World War II

L. Douglas Keeney

Zenith Press, New York, 2015, 176 pages

Book Review published on: January 23, 2017

All service members at any rank want the same thing: unconditional loyalty and emotional support. The book Buddies: Heartwarming Photos of GIs and Their Dogs in World War II by L. Douglas Keeney provides the reader with a view of military members and their loyal animal companions in everyday life during World War II.

Keeney has written more than a dozen books on American history. Buddies, which is an addition to the 2001 publication, Buddies: Men, Dogs and World War II, allows the reader to feel the emotion of service members and their dogs. Men who have seen the horror of war can relax and gain comfort from their dogs. Some of the photos place dogs in whimsical poses, while others show dogs relaxing with the GIs, and still others show dogs recovering from battle wounds.

If a reader is looking for a World War II book on campaigns and national strategy, this is not it. If the reader is looking for a book on military working dogs, or dogs used for policing or explosive detection, this is not it. If the reader is looking for information on mascot pets or purebred dogs that live a pampered life, this is not it. If the reader is looking of a book about mutts and strays that find a GI to take care of them and provide comfort, this is definitely the book.

The book has seven chapters, with five dedicated to the buddies of the Coast Guard, Army, Army Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The two remaining chapters are dedicated to “War’s End” and “Humor in the Face of War.” Every photo in the book is an official military photo that was researched at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Each photo has a caption, which the author edited to eliminate personal information and needlessly offensive language from the 1940s that is no longer used today. Journalists who were drafted or volunteered for the service wrote many of the captions. The intent of the photos was to keep the public feeling good about the war when times were hard and the news from the front was not always good. The photos let the American public see our soldiers and sailors making the best of some very difficult situations.

Some of these dogs have great combat stories, such as a dog named Cherbourg, who was at Normandy on 6 June 1944 when a tank landing ship landed. He decided it was a good time to get off the beach and run onto the ship. In addition, there is Skippy, a member of a B-17 crew serving in Northwest African theater with bombing runs over Tunisia and Sicily.

This book is not relevant to the study of World War II history or to the current security concerns of the nation. However, it is a very good book for seeing World War II from a different perspective of soldiers and their adopted pets.

Book Review written by: Boyd Plessl, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas