Dogface (military)

Dogface refers to a U.S. Army foot soldier serving in the infantry, especially in World War II.

History and usage

The origin of the term is difficult to ascertain. According to the recollections of veteran Phillip Leveque:

Perhaps I should explain the derivation of the term "dogface". He lived in "pup tents" and foxholes. We were treated like dogs in training. We had dog tags for identification. The basic story is that wounded soldiers in the Civil War had tags tied to them with string indicating the nature of their wounds. The tags were like those put on a pet dog or horse, but I can't imagine anybody living in a horse tent or being called a horseface. Correctly speaking, only Infantrymen are called dogfaces. Much of the time we were filthy, cold and wet as a duck-hunting dog and we were ordered around sternly and loudly like a half-trained dog.[1]

The term was used in media such as "Up Front" by combat cartoonist Bill Mauldin, who may have heard the term while serving with the 45th Infantry Division in Italy.

The term gained a high profile in the USA when it was used in the 1955 Hollywood film To Hell and Back, based on the best-selling autobiography of Audie Murphy, the most decorated U.S. soldier of World War II, and starring Murphy in the lead role. The film included a song, The Dogface Soldier, originally written in 1942 by two U.S. Army infantry soldiers; it was adopted as the song of the 3rd Infantry Division, and was widely played and sung during the war.[2] The song eventually sold 300,000 copies.[2] The song is still sung every morning after reveille by the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division while in garrison at Fort Stewart, Georgia and Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

The term is also mentioned in "The Caine Mutiny" by Herman Wouk: "'If they decide to survey this bucket we'll sit on the beach with the dogfaces for a year waiting our chance for a ride back. Fix the pumps and you've got your private limousine to take you home, maybe in a week. How about another look at the pumps?' The pumps were repaired in two days."[3] In this instance it does not have the same meaning as a soldier "dogface," but a face like a sad dog.

See also


  1. Alchemy For A Foxhole-A Salute to the ASTP Men
  2. The Dogface Soldier
  3. Wouk, Herman (15 January 2013). "The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II". Little, Brown via Google Books.
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