Glen - the paradog who died on D-Day
Back at the end of May I blogged about the paradogs of D-Day - dogs who were trained to parachute into Normandy on D-Day to help with mine detection and early warning duties. Bing is one of the most well known of these dogs who survived the war and I have now found out the more of another paradog, Glen. Unfortunately his tale does not have such a happy ending.
D-Day, the 6th June 1944, was when the Allied Troops began landing on the beaches of Normandy in their fight to liberate Europe from Nazi control. Most of you will have seen images of the amphibious boats landing on the beaches and soldiers battling though the waves to the shore under heavy German ginfire. However, these soldiers were not the first to arrive in Normandy on D-Day and this honour goes to soldiers in gliders who arrived silently just after midnight with 3 objectives that were vital to the later success of the beach landings.
- Objective 1 was to secure the bridges at Bénouville over the Caen Canal and River Orne ensuring the bridges remained in place so Allied soldiers could cross eastwards.
- Objective 2 was to destroy 5 bridges further east over the River Dives to prevent the Germans from advancing with more troops from the east.
- Objective 3 was to take the German battery at Merville-Franceville where it was believed there were guns, large enough to fire onto the landing beaches.
It was with the paratroops given the task of taking of the Merville battery that we meet Glen, a German Shepherd, who had been trained to parachute in with his handler, Private Emile Corteil and once on the ground was to warn of approaching enemy by standing stock still when he sensed anyone nearby.
However the parachute landings did not go well and of the 700 paratroopers and one paradog who landed that night, only 150 landed anywhere near the battery (which they did secure albeit with over 75 deaths or injuries). The other 550 soldiers had all landed several miles away and were desperately trying to regroup and get back to where they should have been. Unaware that their own soldiers were so far off target the Allies continued to bombard the areas around the battery and sadly many of the paratroopers on the ground were killed in this fire, including Private Corteil and Glen.
Glen, a dog trained to protect his handler and fellow soldiers, who bravely leapt from a glider ready to serve his country (even though he could not have known what he was doing) was never able to prove what value he could have been. Bing is accredited with saving many lives and I am sure Glen would have done the same had he been given the chance.
War has countless victims - soldiers, civilians and animals. Glen was just one of many losses in World War II but his memory is not forgotten. If you visit the War Cemetery at Ranville, the first village to be liberated on D-Day, you will find the gravestone of his handler Emile Corteil (Grave reference IA.G.13) and on it you can read this inscription:
Army Air Corps
6th June 1944 Age 19
Had you known our boy
you would have loved him too
'Glen' his paratroop dog
was killed with him
What is doesn't say however is the fact that when Emile Corteil was laid to rest it was with Glen by his side. Soldier and dog together for eternity in a peaceful corner of Normandy. Let them never be forgotten.