why do they call marines devil dogs
: The nickname Leatherneck has become
a universal moniker for a U. S. Marine. The term originated from the
wide and stiff leather neck-piece that was part of the Marine Corps
uniform from 1798 until 1872. This leather collar, called
The Stock, was roughly four inches high and had two purposes. In combat, it protected the neck and jugular vein from cutlasses slashes. On parade, it kept a Marine's head erect. The term is so widespread that it has become the name of the Marine Corps Association monthly magazine, LEATHERNECK. Around 1900, members of the U. S. Navy began using Gyrene as a jocular derogatory reference to U. S. Marines. Instead of being insulted, the Marines loved it. The term became common by World War I and has been extensively used since that time. For roughly 50 years, sailors had little luck in their effort to insult Marines by calling them Gyrenes. So, during World War II sailors began referring to Marines as Jarheads. Presumably the high collar on the Marine Dress Blues uniform made a Marine's head look like it was sticking out of the top of a Mason jar. Marines were not insulted. Instead, they embraced the new moniker as a term of utmost respect. The German Army coined this term of respect for U. S. Marines during World War I. In the summer of 1918 the German Army was driving toward Paris. The French Army was in full retreat. In a desperate effort to save Paris, the newly arrived U. S. Marines were thrown into the breach.
In June 1918, in bitter fighting lasting for weeks, Marines repeatedly repulsed the Germans in Belleau Wood. The German drive toward Paris sputtered, fizzled, and died. Then the Marines attacked and swept the Germans back out of Belleau Wood. Paris had been saved. The tide of war had turned. Five months later Germany would be forced to accept an armistice. The battle tenacity and fury of the U. S. Marines had stunned the Germans. In their official reports they called the Marines teufel hunden, meaning Devil Dogs, the ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore. A traditional and functional term for Marines, dating back to the British in the 1600's Around 1918, artist Charles B. Falls created a recruiting poster that was emblazoned with the words Teufel Hunden, German Nickname for U. S. Marines - Devil Dog Recruiting Station. The poster is one of the earliest known references to this phrase in relation to the U. S. Marines. You may have heard stories about how German soldiers nicknamed the U. S. Marines devil dogs, and even today, you can still find this World War I tale used online in Marine Corps recruitment. But the poster commits the same error that almost all versions of the legend do: It gets the German wrong. So is the story true? P The first thing any good student of German should notice about the poster is that the German word for devil dogs is misspelled.
In German, the term would not be two words, but one. Also, the plural of Hund is Hunde, not Hunden. The poster and any Marine references to the German nickname should read Teufelshunde one word with a connecting s. P Many online references spell the German wrong in one way or another. The Marine Corps own website spells it wrong, in references to so-called in 2016. At one point, even the Marine Corps own Parris Island Museum has it wrong. The sign on display therePread Teuelhunden, missing the f and s. Other accounts omit proper capitalization. P Details like these make some historians wonder if the story itself is true. One thing we can state with certainty is thatPfew historical accounts of the devil dogs legend get the German right. P Although the spelling is inconsistent, the devil dogs legend is specific in some ways. It is related to a particular battle, a particular regiment and a particular place. As one version explains, in World War I during the 1918 Chteau-Thierry campaign near the French village of Bouresches, Marines assaulted a line of German machine-gun nests on an old hunting preserve known as Belleau Wood. The Marines who were not killed captured the nests in a tough fight. The Germans nicknamed those marines devil dogs. P Heritage Press International (usmcpress. com) says the shocked Germans coined it as a term of respect for the U. S. Marines, a reference to the ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore.
P NEXT Is there a Bavarian Teufelshunde legend? Did the devil dogs legend actually come about because German soldiers compared the Marines to wild mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore? H. L. Mencken s Take The American writer, H. L. Mencken, didn t think so. In The American Language (1921), Mencken comments on the Teufelshunde term in a footnote: This is army slang, but promises to survive. The Germans, during the war, had no opprobrious nicknames for their foes. for signing up. The French were usually simply die Franzosen, the English were die Englnder, and so on, even when most violently abused. Even der Yankee was rare. Teufelhunde (devil-dogs), for the American marines, was invented by an American correspondent; the Germans never used it. Cf. P Wie der Feldgraue spricht, by Karl Borgmann [sic, actually Bergmann]; Giessen, 1916, p. 23. The correspondent that Mencken refersPto was journalist Floyd Phillips Gibbons (1887-1939), of the Chicago Tribune. Gibbons, a war correspondent imbedded with the Marines, had his eye shot out while covering the battle at Belleau Wood. He also wrote several books about World War I, including And They Thought We Wouldn t Fight (1918) and a biography of the flying Red Baron. So did Gibbons embellish his reporting with a made-up devil dogs legend, or was he reporting actual facts? Not all the American stories of the word s origin agree with each other.
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