Over the 246-year lifespan of the United States Marine Corps, there have been plenty of slogans, mottos, and nicknames applied to this fighting force. Not everything has stuck around, and as time marches forward, things change and evolve. But when the United States entered World War I, the Germans would find that the USMC was filled with fierce warriors scared of nothing and more than capable of the task at hand. It was more than a hundred years ago, but the “devil dog” moniker stuck, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Suggested read: Marine Basic Training: Everything You Need To Know
What Are Devil Dogs?
To understand where the term “devil dog” comes from, you need to understand the Battle of Belleau Wood. It was here where the Marines would find themselves in one of the most intense, brutal battles of World War I. It was the site of the heaviest losses suffered by the USMC at the time.
The objective was clear: capture Belleau Wood and eliminate the German soldiers. Doing so would produce heavy casualties for the Marines who were fighting alongside the U.S. Army as well as troops from France and the United Kingdom. The battle would last from June 1, 1918, until June 26, 1918. In the end, the Allied Forces would emerge victorious in a pivotal battle that helped them win the overall war.
Part of the reason that the battle was so intense was the German use of chemical weapons. This is also why the Marines would wear gas masks while charging into untold dangers. The German forces were surprised at the intensity of the Marines, especially after suffering many losses early. Hand-to-hand combat and close-range fighting took place in the trenches and pillboxes guarding the area, and according to legend, the German troops stated that the Marines fought like “dogs from hell.” Thus, the devil dog Marines were born!
Today, the name lives on and is a testament to the legacy of the Marine Corps. The USS Belleau Wood is also known as Devil Dog, and for nearly 60 years, the Quantico Marines Devil Dogs football team used the Devil Dogs as its mascot. The USMC continues to show the high level of skill and bravery that earned it the nickname our enemies fear.
Devil Dog in German
Linguistics can be a tricky thing sometimes. With the case with spelling devil dog in German, we’ve got a few things to contend with. First off, the infamous Teufel hunden devil dogs Marines recruiting poster is actually supposed to be spelled “Teufelshunde.” Secondly, there have been occasions in which various institutions celebrating the Marines have also misspelled the translation. Whatever the case, the Germans would soon learn the name and remember the ferocious nature that the brave Marines portrayed in WWI and beyond.
Devil Dogs: German Slang or War Propaganda?
Although the moniker continues to live on today, the devil dogs nickname is primarily linked to the American media of the time. There is speculation that the name devil dogs actually derived from Americans first and was used to recruit Marines for World War I and beyond. No matter where you stand, today, the term devil dog refers to some of the bravest military personnel on the planet who fight through harsh conditions. A devil dog is someone who gets the job done through selfless hard work. No patriotic propaganda for the Marines is necessary to come to a conclusion on that.
More WWI history: Ukraine and Russia WWI Treaty Casts Large Shadow Amid Current Crisis