From Mark White
A Member of 403 Wolf Squadron’s Ground Crew
There are many stories written about the dogs of war and there is an excellent article published on the Vintage Wings of Canada website entitled “In Praise of the Squadron Dog”. This article contains some great stories and pictures, and as well it explains the very important psychological role these animals played in the wellbeing of the young men and women that adopted them.
My father, George White, was always called “Whitey” by members of his crew. “Whitey” was an Airframe Mechanic with RCAF 403 Wolf Squadron during World War II. Somewhere on the European Continent, he adopted a little dog called Teddy. This little fellow played a very important role in keeping my dad and his crew sane for the duration of the war.
The vast majority of these adopted dogs never made it back to Canada with their owners, and most were unfortunately, victims of the war.
Teddy never made it back to Canada, but he did survive the war and his story has a happy ending.
This Remembrance Day I am remembering Teddy and sharing his story with your readers.
The Story of Whitey’s Dog Teddy – As Recalled by Bill Cawley July 2011
I can’t now recall exactly where Whitey acquired this little brown pup. He was really small. I don’t think he ever got bigger than 10 lbs.
I noticed first off that he was wormy and wrote my aunt in London to send us some worm powders. We got them very quickly and Whitey followed the directions and Teddy unloaded a surprising load of the usual roundworms common to most pups. This perked him up and Whitey then concentrated on training him not to crap in the tent.
His main food of course was corned beef. There was no such thing as dog food like today. He was a friendly little guy and produced a squeaky bark and he knew who his boss was.
I remember on one move we got a case of Canadian sardines in the ration. The only one ever, thank God. Teddy got his Bully Beef and was offered some sardines. We were surprised he ate them because he was usually not a good traveller.
Whitey and I were sitting side by side in the back of the truck. Teddy was on Whitey’s lap and suddenly he leaned over and deposited the sardines on me, reached back and gave Whitey the corned beef. We never figured how his stomach had separated the beef and the sardines so evenly. Anyway, the sardines were too much for us and we did the same thing with them.
We had one stop at a cross road to let some tanks move up ahead. While we waited a woman came along the highway pushing a big baby buggy with rubber tires on the wheels worn down to the rims, 3 kids and all her worldly possessions. They were all walking in bare feet. If they had shoes they weren’t wearing them on the blacktop to save wear and tear.
She had been slave labour and was trying to get back to where she was from as were thousands of others. Anyway, we gave her the rest of the case of sardines, tears ran down her face. She was Polish or Russian – we couldn’t tell.
Black’s Harbour, New Brunswick, was where the sardines came from. I read the other day in the Vancouver Sun that they are actually the only remaining sardine cannery in North America – Amazing!
Teddy was a tough little guy that survived everything that came his way and then came the end of the war. First In – First Out, so our crew was out. Whitey went by Dakota and I went by train and Channel ship. When the Dakota was loaded, I had Teddy in my battledress jacket and sided up to the aircraft and slipped Teddy in to Whitey.
When he landed in Britain, if they checked the people coming off the aircraft, the plan was to slip Teddy to the ground as there were always dogs running around service airfields. Anyways, Whitey got him safely down to Bournemouth and I caught up a few days later.
We had a new set of problems here as we were billeted in a big hotel 4 to 5 men to a room. One stayed with Teddy while the others went to eat and vice versa. It was a problem and we just couldn’t see how we could get him back to Canada as we weren’t sure what we were up against.
Whitey was giving Teddy a run down in Bournemouth when a lady came along and asked if Teddy was his dog and how could he manage to have a dog in the service. Whitey said it was a problem alright. She then said “let me look after him while you are here. I have a fenced yard and nice home and I would take very good care of him for you.” Whitey went home with her and checked out her place. He said it was perfect. She said he can come by and see him anytime.
We then got transferred to Brighton – another coastal city close by. When we were set to go back to Bournemouth it was to catch a train to Liverpool and then the ship to Canada.
Whitey went to collect Teddy and the lady was in tears. She had become very attached to Teddy who had never had anything to do with women before and he was thriving. Whitey had a soft heart for animals and realized what was best for Teddy and came back saying it was the toughest decision he had ever made.
Whitey realized it was the best solution for Teddy. That little dog helped keep us stay sane during the war. A little dog can certainly make a big difference in life. He brought the best out in people during the war.
Bill Cawley – July 2011.