Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cats in World War II


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Faith, the church cat at St. Augustine's in London. On 6 September, 1940, Faith moves her newborn kitten Panda from a comfortable upper floor to the cold basement. The next day, the Blitz begins and the church is flattened. Faith survives in the basement - as does Panda. She receives a medal for "steadfast courage in the Battle of London."

I've been meaning to put this page about cats in World War II up for a while, and have been collecting pictures for literally months. They aren't particularly easy to find, but they are out there.

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This page intends to make no point, and perhaps makes the most important point of all, at the same time. That is for you to decide. If you like it, I also have a page on dogs of World War II.

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Cats took no sides in World War II. There were cats in every capital, serving with every army, and providing aid and comfort for soldiers everywhere. Cats, essentially, were (and are) meaningless to military history.

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But let's think about that a bit. Cats indeed are everywhere, in the thick of the fighting, in buildings quaking under the fiercest of bombings, and on the most dangerous battlefields. Perhaps cats humanize war a bit, in a back-handed way. You can't have cats around without them serving as a bit of a reminder of earlier, better times, when you went to foreign places simply to visit and meet the people and not destroy anything that dares to stand in your way.

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German submarine U-564 with black cat emblem. The cat was a lucky charm: the British sank the boat in the Bay of Biscay on 14 June 1943, but much of the crew, including the commander, survived. 

Cats are defenseless, taking whatever harm also befalls the humans around them without a sound, with nobody even noticing their presence. In fact, cats are a bit like enemy civilians that soldiers don't notice unless they become, you know, inconvenient by getting in the way.

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Mrs. Caroline Roberts of 22 Lindfield street, Poplar, London. She is seen here in November 1940 feeding cats made homeless by the bombing raids.

Yes, it is absolutely ridiculous to have a page about cats in World War II. I join in your smirk at the very thought. War is about heroic fights and glorious deaths. And all that.

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Leutnant Franz von Werra ('The One That Got Away') - BF109 E4 - II.JG 3. - Wierre au Bois, France - Aug.'40 (with his pet lion cub 'Simba') ECPAD.

Sometimes, though, it is good to have a reminder that no matter how you may feel about your opponent, who we all know is the blackest of blackhearts and who has no redeeming features whatsoever, that there are others involved in the destruction we wreak as well. Whilst you are busy exterminating the 'hated foe' and making the world safe for democracy or whatever cause you fight for, there also always are innocent creatures about who also will suffer from your righteous anger. It's a fact of life, and it gives a bit of perspective on the world and our responsibility to it. Perhaps the soldiers in these pictures understand that and show it by having a cat around.

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He kind of blends in with the window, but there's a cat watching the proceedings over there on the right

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The poor little fellow is a bit singed, but he made it through
The cat is not helping this poor fellow's attempt to blend in.
Liberated cat on Iwo Jima.
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U-953 and mascot Peter the cat.
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English cat in reinforced carrier during WWII - his own personal bomb shelter. Clearly not happy about it, though.
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I don't know who these officers are, but he sure likes his cat!
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Mussolini meets Hermann Goering's pet lion, along with Emmy Goering, at Carinhall just before the war. Goering resented various snubs by Mussolini from the 1920s and no doubt loved the chance to intimidate him a bit. Il Duce doesn't give an inch.
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"Why don't you go away I can get some shut eye?" New mascot 'Saipan' of the USS New Mexico humors the sailor taking care of him. The New Mexico provided support during the U.S. Marine invasion of Saipan in 1944, so it it likely the cat was rescued after the battle, perhaps from a former Japanese owner.
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No, I don't know either.
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2014

3 comments:

  1. A very well-written article accompanies the exceptional photos.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Watching apocalypse WWII, I saw the cat pawing the machine gunner and googled cats WWII! Great page, and very well written!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think this is one of the most significant information for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers turtle aquarium

    ReplyDelete