Smoky the Yorkshire Terrier, an Angel from a Foxhole:

In February 1944, on Nadzab, New Guinea, an American soldier of the 5th Air Force’s 26th Photo Recon Squadron stopped on a primitive road when his jeep quit, as he popped the hood to take a look at the engine, he a heard a whimpering sound from somewhere among the tall grass. Following the sound, he discovered a little head bobbing up and down. On closer inspection, he found it was a little Yorkshire terrier trying to get out of an old foxhole. The man, no lover of dogs, grabbed the pooch, put it in the backseat, fixed his jeep and drove off. He gave the terrier to a friend of his, who in turn sold it to William A. Wynne for two Australian Pounds, the amount of money the soldier needed to get into a poker game.


Smoky resting in an M1 helmet

The previous owner had named the terrier “Smokems” which Wynne shortened to “Smoky”. Not responding to English, the dog was taken to a POW camp but it was found the she didn’t understand Japanese either. Even though Smoky stood at only seven inches tall and weighed barely four pounds, Wynne realized she was something special. He had some experience with dog training and set about teaching Smoky what he knew, the two learning from each other through trial and error.

For the duration of the war, Smoky lived in the dense Pacific jungles and slept on a blanket of green felt in Wynne’s tent. The tropical islands of the Pacific were filled with disease and humidity and a dampness that literally rotted the clothes off of ones back. Smoky subsisted on army C rations as she was not eligible for army dog food or veterinary care like war service dogs. In spite of this, Smoky never got sick or suffered paw trouble from walking on the sharp coral like other dogs in the area. Smoky shared the dangers of war too, she participated in 12 Air-Sea Rescue and Reconnaissance missions while dangling from a pack slung on one of the plane’s machine guns. She also survived a hundred and fifty enemy air raids and a huge typhoon.

Smoky even saved Wynne’s life while sailing on a transport ship, alerting Wynne to an incoming enemy shell that hit eight other men.

terrier smoky wwii

William Wynne and Smoky

Smoky helped Army Engineers build an airbase at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines. The Signal Corps needed to run a telegraph wire through a seventy foot long, eight inch diameter pipe. Dirt had clogged part of the pipe making it as small as 4 inches in diameter in some places. Wynne tied a string to the wire then attached it to Smoky’s collar, he then ran to the other end of the pipe prompting Smoky to follow. Smoky entered but hesitated. Wynne called to her again and the little terrier made her way through the pipe, kicking up dirt with her paws. The pipe was tight and Wynne could only hope that Smoky would not get stuck. Smoky slowly crawled through the pipe until she made it to about fifteen feet from the end. She then ran the rest of the way out. Smoky saved the engineers three day’s work of digging.


Smoky making a parachute drop

Smoky also became the world’s first therapy dog when she started visiting wounded soldiers at the 233rd Field Station in New Guinea. The Army magazine, Yank Down Under proclaimed Smoky as the “Champion Mascot in the Southwest Pacific Area”.

After the War, Smoky made headlines in the US for her wartime heroics and the fabulous amount of tricks she could do. Wynne and Smoky went to Hollywood where they made numerous appearances on TV. In Cleveland, Smoky even got her own show, which ran for forty-two episodes. She also continued her role as a therapy dog, being a popular guest at veteran’s hospitals.  Because of her celebrity status, increased the popularity of Yorkshire terriers, until then a little know breed.

Smoky died at age 14 in 1957, she was buried in a .30 caliber ammo can to recognize her wartime achievements. Since her death, Smoky, the little Yorkshire terrier, has been honored numerous times for her unique life and her special place in World War Two history.

Smoky. How a Tiny Yorkshire Terrier Became a World War II American Army Hero, Therapy Dog and Hollywood Star

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