Tracker dogs, 1967

Tracker dogs, 1967
dog training
Image by Australian War Memorial collection
ID Number: CAM/67/0411/VN
Maker: Bryan Campbell
Place made: Vietnam: South Vietnam

Two black Labrador dogs which had a lot of sniffing to do during Operation Lismore that was completed by 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR). The dog handlers are 19983 Private (later Lance Corporal (L Cpl)) Thomas Douglas (Tom) Blackhurst of Swansea, NSW (left), with Justin and 43921 L Cpl Norman Leslie (Norm) of Kingston, SA, (right) with Cassius. The dogs were responsible for locating Viet Cong fighters and some enemy installations. L Cpl Blackhurst was killed in action on 17 April 1971 while serving with the Vietnam. He was a radio operator, calling in helicopter of 9 for a medical evacuation. The helicopter crashed, killing L Cpl Blackhurst and 3170244 L Cpl John Francis Gillespie of 8 Field Ambulance, the medic on board.

Rights Info: No known copyright restrictions.

This photograph is from the Australian 's collection

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    • österreich_ungern
    • June 8, 2011

    There was no reason for them to go to Indochine.

    • Amanda Kae's Photoz
    • June 8, 2011

    Happy dogs!

    • Anaspides Photography - Iain D. Williams
    • June 8, 2011

    I would also recommend the book "trackers" to anyone interested in understanding the role of tracker digs during the Vietnam war

    • AussieOutback
    • June 8, 2011

    Hi, I’m an admin for a group called Vietnam/Korea – Australia & Allies 1950/1970s, and we’d love to have this added to the group!

    • diversdream
    • June 8, 2011

    If Intrested further in this Photo sugest you read this Book which I would Highly Recomend to those Intrested in Pets or Animals as much as Millitary History.

    Trackers – The Untold Story of Australian Dogs of War
    By Peter Harran
    Published by New Holland Australia in 2001.

    In the Apendix on the Dogs These are the Details on the Two in the Photographs – its Also Sad to Add that the Aust Army did Not return the Dogs that Survived back to Australia….
    Also the 9 RAAF Chopper that went down were MIA’s for quite a while in the case of the 2 Army members on board – he was also only recently returned to Australia after being Located in Vietnam.


    Arived in Vietnam with 7 RAR.
    His Handler was Tom Blackhurst who was killed 17 Apr 1971 on his second tour of vietnam with the AATTV.
    Justin did not return with 7 RAR but was ‘rotated’ to 1 RAR and during that service time was diagnosed with ‘shell shock’ (War Neurosis) while under heavy fire at FSPB Coral which was under a major enemy attack in May 1968.
    He was once more rotated to 5 RAR where he served until Jan 1970 when he ‘retired’ from the army and was donated to a family in Saigon located at the chartered bank.
    Originally a stray he was recruited from a local pound inside Sydney NSW.
    Final fate is Unknown.


    Arived in Vietnam 1967 with 7 RAR as a former guide dog for the blind that failed to make the grade.
    Handler was Norm Cameron.
    Died due to heat exhaustion in vietnam while at Vung Tau before end of tour.

    All up 11 Black Labrador’s Served in Vietnam as tracker dogs of which –
    5 Retired in Vietnam (final fate is also unknown in most cases).
    1 KIA
    5 MIA or whereabouts unknown after handlers departed for australia.

    They were named Ceaser, Cassius, Janus, Julian, Juno, Justin, Marcian, Marcus, Milo, Tiber and Trajan.
    All had their own tags like their owner one example of which would be (War Dog) D6N03 (Ceaser).

    Stephen. Sydney Aust.

    • Franks Photos
    • June 8, 2011

    Hi, I’m an admin for a group called TOUR OF DUTY, and we’d love to have this added to the group!

    • SandyEm
    • June 8, 2011

    Poor Tom 🙁 RIP

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