invasion of sicily


Chips the War Doggie,

During World War II there was a great need for US Military service dogs, and to recruit more dogs a program was created where civilians could donate their pets for the cause. One such doggo was a German Shepherd/Collie?Siberian Husky mix named Chips. Chips took onto his military training quickly and he became a guard dog with the 3rd Infantry Division. He even guard President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the Casablanca conference in 1943. However, it was in battle where Chips would show his bravery.

Chips took part in the invasion of Sicily on July/August of 1943. In one incident his platoon was pinned down by a hidden machine gun bunker. Chips broke loose from his handler and literally stormed the bunker, jumping through the firing slit and viciously biting the four Italian soldiers within. The soldiers ran out of the pillbox in terror and surrendered to the Americans. Chips was wounded in the action, and as a result was awarded the Purple Heart. In another incident Chips alerted his unit to an enemy ambush. During the ambush, he carried a phone line attached to his collar back to the rear so that his men could call for reinforcements. 

Chips would continue to serve on the Italian front, later took part in the Allied invasion of Southern France in August of 1944, and the subsequent invasion of Germany. He was discharged in December of 1945 and returned to his family.. Throughout his service, he performed many more brave acts, and never failed to alert his fellow soldiers to dangers such as incoming artillery, enemy aircraft, and enemy ambushes.  For his feats and bravery in the face of combat, he was award the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross. Quite impressive for a humble doggo.

Chip’s fame spread across the United States which unfortunately led to a problem.  The Commander of the Order of the Purple Heart complained to both President Roosevelt and the War Department stating that by awarding medals to a mere dog they were demeaning the men who had also been decorated. As a result Chip’s medals were revoked and US policy was changed so that dogs were recognized as equipment, not combatants. 

“Lieutenant Colonel Lyle Bernard, Colorado, 30th Infantry Regiment., a prominent figure in the second daring amphibious landing behind enemy lines on Sicily’s north coast, discusses military strategy with Lieutenant General George S. Patton. Near Brolo., 1943”

On August 11, 1943, Lt. Col. Bernard led an amphibious assault on German forces near Brolo, Sicily.  This photo was likely taken a day or two afterwards as Patton resumed his drive for Messina.

Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery in London during the latter years of World War 2. In his youth, he saw a good deal of action during the First World War. He was shot through the right lung by a sniper, and took part in the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Passchendaele - which saw combined British causalities of over 400,000. Having moved through the ranks by World War 2, ‘Monty’ commanded the British Eighth Army to victory in the North African deserts of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, before moving on to the invasions of Sicily and Italy.  He was in command of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord, orchestrating the successful invasion of mainland Europe. He died 24 March 1976, aged 88. His legacy has come to divide opinion, for some tainted by the failure of Operation Market Garden.

I’ve been told that my great-grandfather adored the man, whom he served under from North Africa in 1942 until Germany fell in 1945. He was, according to my grandmother and his daughter, immensely proud to have once shaken Montgomery’s hand.