Sgt. Stubby at the Movies!

Laura A. Macaluso discovered this forgotten photograph of Connecticut doughboy Robert Conroy, while researching her book New Haven in World War I in the archives of the Connecticut State Library.

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is an animated movie about a stray dog who became the mascot of the 102nd Regiment of the 26th “Yankee” Division during World War I.  The film is out now in theaters across the country, and for fans of history and for animal lovers alike, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero shouldn’t be missed!

Stubby’s story in not unusual in that an animal was a common part of wartime experiences. Animals were used by infantry from all countries involved in World War I. Hundreds of animals became both instruments of war and mascots, including pigeons, cats, elephants, donkeys, horses, goats, baboons, bears, bunnies, and camels. World War I was fought on multiple fronts, from France to North Africa to the eastern front and the animals used during wartime reflect geographic location. Camels transported humans and cargo near the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and cats kept the rodent population in check on military warships. Horses and dogs even had their own gas masks, and often suffered, just as their carers did, from shrapnel wounds, infections, and gas attacks.

Stubby, a brown and white mix from the streets of New Haven, Connecticut, became a mascot and helper. However, his story is unusual due to the intensity of the relationship between Robert Conroy, the doughboy who adopted him, and the fact that Stubby went over to France, served with Conroy in all of the battles in which the Yankee Division participated, and returned to the United States with Conroy at the end of the war. Due to Conroy’s service, Stubby became a popular postwar figure, marching in parades, appearing on stage, and even winning medals which were added to his hand-made chamois coat, stitched for him by the women of a French village.

Go see Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero and read more about him in New Haven in World War I (The History Press, 2016).