Devil Dog

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A recruiting poster by Charles B. Falls created in 1918 is an early use of the term Devil Dog
The Bulldog fountain in Belleau

Devil Dog is a nickname for a United States Marine coined during World War I.[1][2]


Multiple publications of the United States Marine Corps claim that the nickname "Teufel Hunden"[a]—"Devil Dogs" in English—was bestowed upon the Marines by German soldiers at the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918.[4][5][6][7][8] However, on April 14, 1918, six weeks before the battle began, hundreds of U.S. newspapers ran a fanciful wire service report that stated "the Teutons have handed the sea soldiers [a nickname] ... They call the American scrappers 'teufel hunden,' which in English means 'devil dogs'."[9][10] Journalist H. L. Mencken wrote in 1921 that the term was the invention of an American war correspondent.[11] Robert V. Aquilina of the United States Marine Corps History Division has stated that while there is no evidence of German use of the term, it has nevertheless become entrenched in Marine Corps lore.[12]

"Devil Dog" was also the nickname of the amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3), as well as the mascot of the Quantico Marines football team.[13]

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ The correct German spellings are "Teufelshund" (singular) and "Teufelshunde" (plural).[3] However, while "Teufelshund" is a grammatically correct word, the more likely choice for a German speaker would be "Höllenhund"—"hellhound" in English—casting further doubt on the origin story.[1]


  1. ^ a b Simmons, Edwin H. (2018). Westermeyer, Paul (ed.). The Legacy of Belleau Wood: 100 Years of Making Marines and Winning Battles. Quantico, Virginia: Marine Corps History Division. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-16-094412-3.
  2. ^ Wright, Evan (2004). Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the New Face of American War. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. p. 47. ISBN 9780425224748.
  3. ^ "German Myth 13: Teufelshunde - Devil Dogs and the Marines". ThoughtCo. Dotdash. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  4. ^ United States Marine Corps (2010). U.S. Marine Guidebook. New York: Skyhorse. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-60239-941-9.
  5. ^ "6th Marine Regiment > Units > 1st Battalion > History". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  6. ^ Neller, Robert B. (November 10, 2018). "A Message from the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps" (PDF). Letter to United States Marine Corps. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  7. ^ Price, Will (May 28, 2006). "Remembering the Battle of Belleau Wood". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved August 26, 2021. Little wonder that from the time of this fierce battle to the present day, Marines are still known by the nickname given them by the awed Germans they vanquished at Belleau Wood: "Teufelhunden," which means "Hounds from Hell," or "Devil Dogs."
  8. ^ Hanks, Nathan (November 30, 2016). "Marines Maintain Warrior Spirit Through MCMAP". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved August 26, 2021. In 1918, during the battle of Belleau Wood, France, the Marines were given the nickname "teufelhunden," or "Devil Dog," by the Germans for their fierce fighting ability.
  9. ^ "Essay in Marine Nomenclature". The New York Herald. April 14, 1918. p. 8.
  10. ^ "Germans Call 'em Teufel Hunden: Recruiters Report a New Nickname for Marines". The Boston Daily Globe. April 14, 1918. p. 13.
  11. ^ Mencken, H. L. (1921). The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States (2 ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 333.
  12. ^ Schehl, Matthew L. (June 14, 2016). "This photo of Gen. Neller drinking from the devil dog fountain will motivate you". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved August 22, 2021. The term very likely was first used by Marines themselves and appeared in print before the Battle for Belleau Wood," Bob Aquilina of the Marine Corps History Division told Schogol at the time. "It gained notoriety in the decades following World War I and has since become a part of Marine Corps tradition.
  13. ^ "A Devil a Care Have They". The Detroit Free Press. November 10, 1923. p. 1.