Stubby was a stray bull terrier adopted in 1917 by a soldier, Robert Conroy, during the latter’s training with the U.S. 26th “Yankee” Division on the grounds of Yale University. Smuggled by Conroy onto a troopship bound for France, Stubby is said to have participated in four campaigns and 17 battles. He has been called the most decorated war dog of World War I and was even presented with a gold medal from the Humane Education Society by Pershing in 1921.
The charismatic canine is the subject of a new animated movie, “Sgt. Stubby.” I saw it with my two youngest children and it is surprising good – sincere and sentimental, but not maudlin, well-paced, with an adequate amount of technical detail (despite the occasional mistake). The movie does an admirable job of threading the needle of being pro-military without being jingoistic and is arguably the most positive portrayal of the World War I era of the last 75 years. It packs a lot of history into its fairly brief run time, incorporating doughboy interactions with French poilus and civilians, the Spanish Flu epidemic, fear of gas, the service of naturalized Germans in the AEF, and the fighting that took place right up to the morning of the armistice. It is both kid- and adult-friendly, and I hope it finds an audience.
John Throckmorton is a business executive who lives with his family north of Atlanta. He served for 20 years as an infantry officer with assignments at Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, and in Iraq. His great-grandfather was a machine gun officer with the U.S. 35th Infantry Division (and ironically saw the start of the next war while serving a senior staff officer with the U.S. Army’s Hawaiian Department on December 7th, 1941). His World War I reading list can be found here: https://taskandpurpose.com/american-expeditionary-force-books/