[page last updated 14 May 2015]
War Diary No.1 Dog Platoon Royal Engineers - Jan-March 1945
No.1 Dog Platoon, Royal Engineers
Attached 508 Corps Field Park Coy. R.E.
Commanding Officer: Lieutenant C.T. Atkins
Deurne Sheet 3
Map Reference E. .6520
1st Feb Dog Training not possible yet but ground thawing. 2nd Feb. Thaw continuing. Practice mines buried. 3rd Feb Thaw continuing. Practice mines buried. 4th Feb Thaw continuing. Practice mines buried. Visited by Major Leigh (Commandant) and Captain Garle (in charge traning) War Dogs Training School. 5th feb Dog training commenced after 5 weeks lay-off. Dogs over keen and erratic. 6th Feb Training continued. Platoon Commander with Platoon Comander of No. 4 Platoon visited No.3 Platoon where Commander a casualty, and a sergeant in charge to discuss policy and establish liason. Decided present work (examination of suspect areas and establishment of limits of fields) to be the most practical and valuable that dogs can at present perform. 7th Feb Training continued. Dogs improving. Liased with 6th Airborne Division. 8th Feb Training continued. Dogs improving. Visitedby Platoon Commander No.2 Dog Platoon Royal Engineers (Lieutenant Davison) Our conclusions were as above.
Training continued. Visited by Captain from C.E. U.S. Army who wished to ascertain the value of the dogs. Billets found near 6th Airborne Division. 10th Feb One day scheme carried out over mines buried previous to freeze up (Dec 21st). Witnessed by U.S. Captain. Weather very bad but results generally satisfactory. 11th Feb Dogs rested. Platoon Commander left on a mines course at Royal Engineers Training School. Panningen
Map Reference E.7507
Platoon moved for tasks with 6th Airborne Division in that area. 13th Feb Dog Training Panningen,
1 Section (Sergeant, NCO, 3 handlers, 10 dogs) at work with 6th Airborne Division. (Work and results shown attached Appendix 2) Operation Strength of platoon is 2 NCOs and 8 handlers not allowing for leave or casualties. One section only has been requred during this period. Sections have continued training on alternate days. 15th Feb Sections have continued training on alternate days. 16th Feb Sections have continued training on alternate days. 17th Feb Sections have continued training on alternate days. 18th Feb Daily training continued. 19th Feb As for 17th, 6 Schumines missed this day - see Appendix 2. [below] Panningen
Map Reference E.7507
Daily training continued. [while 591 Para are heading back to England]
Daily training continued. 22nd Feb Daily training continued. 23rd Feb Daily training continued. 24th Feb One section at work in same area but now under command U.S. Army Engineers. 25th Feb One Section at work in same area. Platoon Commander rejoined. 26th Feb Daily Training 27th Feb As for 25th. 28th Feb As for 25th. Instructions received from Commander Royal Engineers, 8 Corps Troops Engineers in liason with S.O. Training (Engineers) 21 Army Group and C.E. 8 Corps, for 1 section to proceed to Royal Engineers Training School for experiments and training. Appendix 1 Administrative & General The Administration of this platoon is now on a satisfactory basis. The attachment to 8 Corps troops Royal Engineers permits of work with any Division either permanently or temporarily under command of 8 Corps without its administration being allowed to deteriorate. Co-operation with both British and U.S. Engineer field companies has been good. A one-section working strength is all that has been required. The War estblishment of 12 handlers is not yet achieved. Reinforcements & replacements are expected. The attachment to the Royal Engineers Training School should yield many valuable results. Theories will be examined and developments considered.
Signed: C.T. Atkins Lieutenant South Staffordshire Regiment
15 Jan - 13 Feb 1945 Bad Weather followed by training and experimental period.
After the thaw practice mines buried on 21 Dec 1944 were found although with a little uncertainty.
Date Location Area Covered
No. of mines found
and type of mine.
Time, Remarks, Casualties. 14 Feb Area Sevenum - Blerick - Panningen (North West Europe) 1:250000 Sheet No.3 Brussels - Liege
Map Ref' Squares: 70,80, 81 Location
(Square yards given relate to total area through which dogs have been run in attempts to "bump" mines)
1 Section (NCO & 3, with Sergeant).
09.15-14.30: Anti-tank block in field near road obstacle Semi-circular. Dogs worked all round the edges and found the whole block. 15 Feb Sevenum, Blerick and Panningen
2000 square yards
20 individual 'Tellermines 43'
09.15-14.30: Anti-tank block in field near road obstacle Semi-circular. Dogs worked all round the edges and found the whole block. . Sevenum, Blerick and Panningen
5000 square yards
. 16 Feb Sevenum, Blerick and Panningen 30,000 square yards
65 individual 'Tellermines 43'
(field thus de-limited
09.15-14.30: Fields & tracks.
Mines laid in 3 rows to good pattern and thus easily counted though not visible.
17 Feb Sevenum, Blerick and Panningen 7,500 square yards
15 individual Tellermines 43
(Field contained approx 80)
09.15-14.30: Fields and tracks. Anti-tank block. (Note: where fields have been merely taped off and marked, only estimated figures of the total mines therein can be given if not laid to regular pattern). 18 Feb . .
Not Required // TRAINING 19 Feb Sevenum, Blerick and Panningen Tracks 2 miles x 8 yards area.
120 Square yards
In tracks: 1x "R",2x Schu,
3x Schu, 12x Teller
N.B. This was a very dirty area which hs now been taped off entirely as a result of several accidents occuring. The ground is grassy and sandy (but a fair working stretch). Mines buried for 4 months. Good dog working well found the "R" but missed 6 Schu all in his track. This resulted in an injury to a R.E. Sergeant working with us. Only reason I can suggest is length of time mines buried, plus freeze and thaw out with resulting absence of scent.
20 Feb . .
. Not Required // TRAINING . 21 Feb . .
. Not Required // TRAINING . 22 Feb . .
. Not Required // TRAINING . 23 Feb . .
. Not Required // TRAINING . 24 Feb Sevenum, Blerick and Panningen 30,000 square yards
General Area search. 25 Feb Sevenum, Blerick and Panningen 10,000 square yards
2x "S" mines with trip wires
09.15-12.00: Platoon unable to continue further owing to presence of trip wires and withdrawn. Obvious a considerable field. 26 Feb . .
Not Required // TRAINING . 27 Feb Sevenum, Blerick and Panningen 2,000 square yards
3x 'Tellermines 43'
09.15-14.30: In line cross field in continution of some already blown by sappers. 28 Feb . .
Section out but finally not required and returned.
(1.) It will be observed that only one of the two sections has been normally employed. This is all that was required of us.
(2.) The work since 23 Feb has been carried out in co-operation with U.S. Army Engineers.
(3.) All the mines have been down for about 4 months. Hence 4-5 hours daily is sufficient as dogs cannot be allowed to go off peak of their form.
Signed: C.T. AtkinsUnit Strength: 2 Sergeants; 3 Corporals; 17 Sappers and Drivers
Lieutenant South Staffordshire Regiment.
The following cartoon was drawn by a member of No.2 Dog Platoon
Depicting training dogs at War Dog Training facility, Northaw, Hertfordshire.
Including the local Pub depicted in the centre background "Two Brewers". No.2 Platoon was commanded by Lieutenant J.R. Davison.
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