Reverence for military mascot show memories of
WWII still live
Story and Photographs
Copyright © 2000-2004 by Vincent Z. Whaley
and the Johnson
of long-remembered 47th Infantry Regiment
canine mascot, Hambone Jr.
should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England." -- from the
poem "The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke
By Vincent Z. Whaley
City Press Staff Writer
(Published Thursday, Aug. 17, 1995)
ALRESFORD, England Although Hambone Jr.
never participated in battle, he was granted
a privilege many soldiers tried not to think
about during World War II.
He was buried in his homeland.
Hambone was an infantry regiment's canine mascot,
and his duty was to run alongside the soldiers,
provide entertainment and keep their thoughts
away from battle and pain and death.
During a recent trip to England to retrace the
wartime steps of my late grandfather, Starlin
H. Hughes, I came across the dog's grave in
the quaint village of Alresford.
This is where my grandfather, who served with
the 47th "Raiders" Infantry Division,
9th U.S. Infantry Division, had been stationed
prior to the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France,
Hambone's grave, alongside a weathered path,
was just one example of how America is remembered
in a country that was once bombed nightly. For
example: In Winchester, about eight miles from
Alresford, I stopped an elderly lady treading
the cobblestone street and asked for directions
to the bus stop for Alresford. She was going
to her dressmaker's shop to have her late husband's
Royal World War II medals sewn to a shield.
After kindly displaying the gallant war achievements,
she directed me to the bus stop just
across the street.
I met a gray-haired
gentleman in an Alresford pub, the Swan Hotel
one of several pubs in which GIs of the
47th frequented during the war. After consuming
a mid-morning pint of "bitter" beer,
he escorted me through the town square in search
of the building where the 47th had been headquartered.
We arrived at a white
and navy building with a
small, plaster plaque attached to its outer
wall. The inscription states: "THIS HOUSE
WAS THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE 47TH. INFANTRY REGT.,
9TH DIVISION, UNITED STATES ARMY, 1943 TO D-DAY
The man then explained the legend of Hambone
Jr. and supplied directions to his grave, which
is located just beyond the village along a
rocky footpath beside the Alresford River.
A thatch-layered cottage outlined with pink
and violet flowers sits along the river. A cobblestone
bridge possessing arches that sink beneath the
calm brook complements the fairy-tale dwelling.
The grave of Hambone Jr. is not far from the
Along the opposite side of the footpath, the
tombstone rests among thick vegetation. Weather-beaten
and etched in algae, the monument clearly states,
"HERE LIES HAMBONE JR., FAITHFUL FRIEND
OF THE 47TH INFANTRY REGT., 9TH DIV., U.S. ARMY,
Countless war memorials can be found across
England during this final year of World War
II's 50th anniversary. None, however, seem as
classic as the one dedicated to a military mascot
known as Hambone Jr.
204 W. Main St., Johnson City, Tennessee 37605,
All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.