Britain's Luftwoofe: The Heroic Paradogs of World War II

The dogs' slim bodies proved to be advantageous because, during their test jumps, they could use the parachutes that had actually been designed to carry bicycles. In order to make it easier to get the dogs to jump out of the aircraft, they weren't given anything to drink or eat beforehand. On April 2, 1944, Bailey wrote in his notebook about the first jump with the female Alsatian Ranee. He notes that he carried with him a 2-pound piece of meat, and that the dog sat at his heels eagerly watching as the men at the front of the line jumped out of the plane.

Then it was their time to jump, which Bailey describes in this way:

"After my chute developed, I turned to face the line of flight; the dog was 30 yards away and slightly above. The chute had opened and was oscillating slightly. (Ranee) looked somewhat bewildered but showed no sign of fear. I called out and she immediately turned in my direction and wagged her tail vigorously. The dog touched down 80 feet before I landed. She was completely relaxed, making no attempt to anticipate or resist the landing, rolled over once, scrambled to her feet and stood looking round. I landed 40 feet from her and immediately ran to her, released her and gave her the feed."

Jump, land, eat: With each training jump, the dogs started enjoying their job more. In fact, the dogs sometimes allowed themselves to be thrown out of the planes or lept out without any coaxing.

Problems with the Plan

Then came the day that the dogs had trained for, D-Day, June 6, 1944: The three planes carrying the members of the 13th Battalion took off at 11:30 p.m. on the previous night and headed for France. At 1:10 a.m., or only 30 seconds behind schedule, the airplanes reached Normandy. Each plane held 20 men and one dog.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan until the hatch was opened. The planes were surrounded by bangs and whizzes, and loud salvos of flak threw yellow light onto the gray clouds.

Bailey and Bing flew on the same airplane and were the last ones in line to jump. But after Bailey boldly sprang out of the hatch, his four-legged pupil turned around and holed up in the back of the aircraft.

In battalion records, it says that the jump master on board, who was responsible for coordinating the jump, was forced to unplug his radio equipment, catch the dog and toss him out of the plane.

What's more, Bing's jump reportedly didn't go as smoothly as his training jumps had: Shortly before setting his four feet on the soil of occupied Europe, Bing was hanging in the branches of the tree his parachute had got caught in. He then had to wait for two hours until his comrades found him with two deep cuts in his face, most likely from German mortar fire.

Honors for the Hound Turned Hero

In what followed, as one soldier in the 13th Battalion later noted, Bing and the other dogs proved to be very useful, especially for locating mines and booby traps. "They would sniff excitedly over it for a few seconds and then sit down looking back at the handler with a quaint mixture of smugness and expectancy," he wrote, noting that the dogs would then be rewarded with a treat. "The dogs also helped on patrols by sniffing out enemy positions and personnel, hence saving many Allied lives," he added.

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