Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby, oil painting of most decorated dog of World War 1
A week of Remembrance this week. Here is Sergeant Stubby.

Sergeant Stubby is said to be the most decorated  dog of WW1 and the only dog to be nominated for rank and then promoted through combat. He took part in 17 battles over 18 months on the Western Front.

His sense of smell enabled him to save his regiment from mustard gas attacks; he could hear the whine of incoming shells before people could and warned them; he found the wounded, stranded in No Man’s Land, and they could help themselves from medicines he carried in his coat. He once caught a German soldier and held on to him by the seat of his trousers until help came.

He was smuggled on to a troop ship by Corporal Robert Conroy from Connecticut. On being discovered by the commanding officer, he was allowed to remain when the dog saluted the officer, as Corporal Conroy had taught him to do. He earned many medals and insignia. His chamois coat was made by the residents of a French town liberated by his regiment.

Robert Conroy and  Sergeant Stubby both survived the war. On returning to the USA, Stubby accompanied Robert to University in Washington DC. He met and was honoured by no less than 3 US Presidents and led many processions and parades. Stubby died peacefully in his sleep in 1926.

As you might imagine, there are very few reference photos for me to work from, none of them in colour and all of them very tiny. So I have done my best with this painting. I know that Stubby was a brindle, but I do not really know his colour. I suspect it was darker than I have painted him. Here is one photo from the BBC website:
Corporal Robert Conroy and Sergeant Stubby
I used a brush for Stubby’s face, but otherwise I used a palette knife. On his coat he actually carried many more medals than I have depicted here, and of course I do not know what colour the ribbons were, but I have painted an impression of his decorations: it is not supposed to be a literal rendering.

In memoriam, Stubby.