Small enough to snuggle inside a soldier’s helmet, a tiny Yorkshire Terrier with a big heart was the embodiment of the phrase “man’s best friend” in the eyes of the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron in World War II. Today the legacy of Smoky the War Dog‘s loyalty lives thanks to monuments around the world that have been erected in her memory.
The Story of Smoky the War Dog
An abandoned foxhole in the jungles of New Guinea would have been her grave if the dog who would later be dubbed Smoky had not been found by an American GI in February 1944.
Her days of dogged devotion to her military friends began when the man who would be her loving pet parent, Corporal Bill Wynne (pictured above), gave his pal two Australian pounds so he could have the companionship of a barking buddy. Smoky stayed by Wynne’s side throughout 150 air raids, and her bravery on 12 combat missions earned her eight battle stars.
As smart as she was sweet, Smoky was credited with keeping 250 soldiers with the Signal Corps from harm by taking on the task of running a communication cable through a 70-foot-long, 8-inch wide pipe. Moments of dangerous digging and maneuvering by stout-hearted Smoky meant that crewmen were spared three days worth of work which would have exposed them all to enemy bombings.
While Smoky helped to lighten the load of crewmen during World War II, once peace was declared the tiny tail-wagger worked to lighten the spirits of Americans by showing off her special skills on TV and visiting veterans in hospitals in her role as the first therapy dog.
A resident of Cleveland, Ohio for many years, Smoky passed away on February 21, 1957. Today dog lovers can pay their respects to Smoky at her final resting place at Cleveland Metroparks in Lakeland, Ohio, where she lies at peace beneath a memorial created by sculptor Susan Bahary.
Mount Olive, New Jersey is the latest state to salute the stout-hearted Spot. In May 2016 an homage to military dogs was unveiled at the Veterans Memorial in Turkey Brook Park, with a sculpture of tiny Smoky which recreates the moment before she embarked on her journey through a 70-foot pipe that would aid the effort to build an airbase for Allied war planes.
The diminutive statue stands proudly alongside renditions of Sgt. Stubby from World War I, Nemo, a German Shepherd who was determined to do his duty in the Vietnam War even when shot in the face, and a Doberman Pinscher from the Korean War whose name, known only to the deceased soldier he was found faithfully protecting, has been lost in the mist of time.
Over the years Smoky has been posthumously awarded several honors, including the PDSA Certificate for Animal Bravery or Devotion to Duty, which was presented to Wynne at The Kirkdale Pet Aid Hospital, The Jeanne Marchig Centre in Liverpool in 2011, and the Purple Cross from the Australia RSPCA in Queensland, which Wynne proudly accepted on his late four-legged friend’s behalf at her memorial in Lakeland, Ohio in 2015:
Several books document Smoky’s story, including:
- Smoky the War Dog: How a Tiny Yorkshire Terrier Became a Hero on the Frontline by Nigel Allsop
- A Dog with a Destiny: Smoky by Isabel George
- Smoky: How a Tiny Yorkshire Terrier Became a World War II American Army Hero, Therapy Dog and Hollywood Star by Jacky Donovan
- Yorkie Doodle Dandy: A Memoir, which tells the dog’s true tale through the eyes of her beloved person, William “Bill” Wynne
To learn more about Smoky:
- visit www.smokywardog.com