Home Connecticut Sergeant Stubby – Connecticut’s Most Famous World War I Hero

Sergeant Stubby – Connecticut’s Most Famous World War I Hero


Connecticut produced no more famous veteran of World War I than Sergeant Stubby. A Staffordshire terrier mix, he started out life a homeless puppy wandering the Yale Campus in New Haven.

Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby

Stubby, so named because of his tail, was a familiar site on the campus, and J. Robert Conroy of New Britain took a liking to him. Conroy and the other men of New England national guard units were soon to be swept up in the Yankee Division, an all-New England Army unit shipped to France to fight in World War I.

Stubby used to march along with the Yale soldiers as they drilled, and he picked up many of their military moves. He could march, shake hands and even salute. He also knew when the bugle sounded to call the men to the mess hall.

Sergeant Stubby

When his unit shipped out on the SS Minnesota, Conroy smuggled Stubby aboard under his coat. When the little dog was discovered, he charmed even the commanding officer with his ability to salute.

On the battlefields of France, Stubby’s heroics were legend. While Europeans had full-fledged canine units in their armies, on the U.S. side dogs were unusual. Horses and mules were regular soldiers, but a dog/mascot was pretty rare.

Stubby was more than a curiosity, though. He had some legendary exploits on the battlefield. Early in the war he survived a mustard gas attack. Later he would bark to alert the soldiers if he smelled the presence of the deadly gas – giving an early warning that saved lives.

Once while his unit was in a small village, Stubby helped alert the whole town that gas was in the air, giving them time to protect themselves with gas masks. The women of the village were so happy with the four-legged hero, they made him a coat – which he had with him until he died.

Once while out wandering, Stubby came upon a German soldier. When he raised an alarm, the man was taken prisoner. He is also credited with helping the medics find wounded men and keeping soldiers company on lonely, late watches.

Stubby very nearly didn’t make it through the war. He took a shrapnel hit in April 1918, and the Army medics stitched him up. But make it through he did, and he returned a hero to the United States. Stubby frequently marched in parades and at celebrations. And he probably didn’t actually become known as Sergeant Stubby until after the war, when his fans bestowed the rank on him as an honorific, according to his biographer.

RIP Stubby

Over the course of his life, he met presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge at various functions – twice visiting the White House. He also received a medal from General John “Black Jack” Pershing, who had no love for the early commanders of the Yankee Division. But he did take time to honor Stubby back at home at a Humane Society event.

Conroy went on to study law at Georgetown University and work on Capitol Hill after the war. He took Stubby with him, and the pooch became the mascot for Georgetown Hoyas sports teams. In 1926, Stubby died of old age.

Conroy gave Stubby’s remains and his French-made uniform, complete with medals, to the Smithsonian Museum of National History, where he resides today.

This story about Sgt. Stubby was updated in 2022.


Mark C N Sullivan February 27, 2015 - 10:10 am

Allan Janus

Allan Janus February 27, 2015 - 10:15 am

Good old Sarge Stubby.

Linda Brayman February 28, 2015 - 12:11 am

cheers for Sarge Stubby

Pj Gimino February 28, 2015 - 2:39 am

Thank you Stubby for your service.

Percy Spencer and the Chocolate Bar That Changed the Way You Cook - New England Historical Society January 22, 2016 - 8:20 am

[…] He was discharged honorably from the Navy at the end of World War I. […]

Six New England Presidential Visits and the Stories Behind Them - New England Historical Society February 22, 2017 - 11:38 am

[…] miles from Lancaster and stopping at a sanitarium in Oxford, Maine. There the president promised World War I veterans, mostly suffering from gas attacks, that the government would do everything it could to […]

Robert Remington Fights World War I - New England Historical Society May 12, 2017 - 6:40 am

[…] project should get a boost next year with the release of the film about Sgt. Stubby, a Staffordshire terrier mix who fought alongside the Yankee Division in the battlefields of […]

Connecticut Doughboys Remember the Battle of Seicheprey - New England Historical Society June 6, 2017 - 7:41 am

[…] 102nd was part of the US 26th Infantry Division, nicknamed the Yankee Division because it was made up of units from the six New England states. It landed in France in September […]

How The Spirit of 76 Became World War I Propaganda - New England Historical Society June 28, 2017 - 7:18 am

[…] the year leading up to the American entry into World War I, the conflict was unpopular with large swaths of the American public. For many Americans, the […]

The 40 Angels of St. Ann, the Sistine Chapel of Woonsocket - New England Historical Society May 24, 2018 - 8:50 am

[…] broker. He studied at  the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. Then he emigrated to Montreal when World War I broke out and made a name decorating French-Canadian Roman Catholic […]

Comments are closed.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest artciles from the New England Historical Society

Thanks for Signing Up!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join Now and Get The Latest Articles. 

It's Free!

You have Successfully Subscribed!