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Airedale Jack

Updated on November 6, 2014

Airedale terrier - a war hero

I heard this fascinating story on the radio and want to share it with you. The Airedale is a fabulous breed and probably the most famous of all was a war hero - Airedale Jack. What's more, I was surprised to find that dogs are still used by the military today - all over the world.

During World War 1, our four-legged friends were used extensively, even in the trenches. The British War Dog program was underway and Airedales were widely used for many different - and highly important - military jobs.

Thanks to the sterling work performed by the dogs, the Airedale Terrier became the most popular breed in Britain after the war. America followed suit and by the nineteen twenties, the Airedale was the most popular breed in the United States.

During the Great War, they were trained and sent to the front. They served as messengers and sentries. They also were set to work by the Red Cross as many had been trained to locate wounded soldiers. Many of the men who fought in the First World War would have lost their lives had it not been for the Airedales. Airedale Jack was an example of their heroism.

Setting the scene - The conditions the animals experienced

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Airedale Jack

Jack was rescued from the Battersea Dogs' Home in London and recruited to serve in the battlefields. He was sent to the trenches in France where he worked as a messenger. Every day, Jack went from area to area, through no-mans-land, often when battles were raging.

During a particularly fierce battle his battalion was in severe danger of being overcome by the enemy. The Germans were advancing and the British soldiers held out little hope of survival.

Airedale Jack was their only hope. Was it possible that the brave little animal could make it through the battlefield and deliver an urgent message asking for reinforcements?

Jack had proved, time after time, that he was an efficient and brave 'soldier' but this seemed to be an almost impossible task, even for him. The soldiers were beginning to resign themselves to certain death - their final hope was Jack. When Jack left the trenches with his message, the soldiers must have wished him well but without a great deal of optimism as he left under heavy fire.

But they reckoned without Jack's bravery.

It was inevitable, due to the heavy fighting, that Jack would be injured but despite a very serious wound to one leg, and a broken jaw, he persevered. He arrived at his destination covered in blood and in an appalling condition. But the message was delivered - despite all odds, Jack had made it though. The battalion was saved, thanks to his heroism.

But his wounds were too serious for him to survive. Within minutes of delivering his vital message, Jack slipped away. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

Dogs in the trenches

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War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love
War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love

Can you imagine what it's like for a dog to be in the battlefield? An animal doesn't understand but nevertheless is willing to help faithfully at times of war, even today.

Learn more. This book is a great gift for an animal lover, too.


Animals are still at helping in battle zones today

Help military animals

What happens to these dogs once they have gallantly served? Who helps the dogs who are still serving their country? You can help. It would be a lovely way to commemorate Airedale Jack and his gallant colleagues.

Further reading

Animals have been used by man during wartime for many years. They have performed many dangerous tasks and as a result, saved soldiers - in fact entire regiments - thanks to their actions. These brave canines could easily run away from the battlefields but they don't. They trust us and in turn, we put our trust in them. Why are they so loyal? See the selection of books below that explain more about the brave animals that protect and help us. These are great gifts for animal lovers.

Keep your own pet safe and sound

Our pets give us so much. It's not only companionship; there is a special bond between humans and dogs that nature has yet to explain. Our pets are so much a part of our families today and we're lucky that there are so many products available so that we can reward their loyalty by looking after them as best we can.

© 2013 Jackie Jackson

Please leave your own thoughts.

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Brave, loyal creature, but wouldn't you expect that from Airedale! You still see them around here; lovely dogs, and make fierce house guards, too.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @RinchenChodron: Thank you - isn't it a great story? So brave.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love this lens! Thanks

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Loretta L: Isn't it? Thank you for dropping by.

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 

      5 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      What a lovely story.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      6 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @SusanRDavis: Thank you so much. 'Man's best friend' is a very apt description.

    • SusanRDavis profile image

      Susan R. Davis 

      6 years ago from Vancouver

      This really moved me. I knew about modern military use of dogs, but I had no idea they served in WWI as well. *blessed*

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      6 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Phillyfreeze: That's fascinating. German Shepherds are very special Thank you so much for your response!.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 

      6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      My uncle served in the Korean War and I was able to see up close and in person a sentry dog of the German Shepherd breed. This was in the mid-1950s and I saw the purebred German Shepard...the size of the dogs paws were as big as a mans fist. When standing on hind legs it was easily over 6 feet tall!Those images has stayed with me for over 50 years. The same goes for my childhood friend Kenneth who parents owned a pure breed Doberman.

    • ManipledMutineer profile image


      6 years ago


    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      6 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ShariBerry: Thank you so much for your comments. Isn't it amazing that dogs all over the world are still playing vital roles in war zones?

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for remembering Jack, this was a wonderful tribute to him and so many other animals that were critical in saving many lives during the war. No wonder they call a dog " Man's Best Friend".


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