I am not really a cat person to be honest. I always preferred dogs. There is a saying “A dog thinks you are God. a cat thinks he is”
I knew about the efforts of dogs, horses, elephants and other animals during WW2,but I had not heard about the heroics of cats during World War 2, one of my blog followers pointed it out to me(thanks Parker).
A stray cat wandered into St Augustine’s and St Faith’s Church in London in 1936. She was named Faith and adopted by the rector and parishioners. She would sit at the pulpit while Father Henry Ross preached. In 1940, Faith gave birth to a single kitten named Panda. On September 6th, Faith demanded access to the church basement. When a door was opened for her, she carried her kitten down to the dark cellar. Father Ross retrieved the kitten twice, but Faith carried him back downstairs -twice. She even missed a church service, which was unusual. The next day, air raids began in the Battle of London, and by the 9th, 400 people had been killed and eight churches were destroyed by bombs. Father Ross returned to the church to find it ruined. He called for Faith and heard faint meowing in return. He retrieved both Faith and Panda from the rubble just before the roof collapsed. Faith was nominated for a Dinkin Medal, for which she was not eligible as a civilian, but she was awarded a special medal for bravery anyway. Faith was presented with the medal in a special ceremony in 1945 attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury. When Faith died peacefully at the age of 14, the church was again packed for her funeral.
Cats were often adopted along the way by soldiers and sailors who found an abandoned cat or kitten, and were used as mascots.
Cats were also thought to be able to detect bombs ahead of time, like dogs sniffing out explosives. Soldiers theorized it was due to cats being attuned to atmospheric pressure, or possibly just their “sixth sense.” During World War II, some families would rely on their cat’s senses to alert them ahead of a bomb being dropped and would retreat for safety to air-raid or bomb shelters.
The most famous of these fearless felines was aptly named “Bomber” and he could identify the difference between German aircrafts and planes in the British Air Force.
It’s no secret that cats are adept hunters – which is why the military originally requested feline aid. Cats were first brought aboard ships to protect the soldiers’ food supplies. With mice, rats, and other vermin vying for the opportunity to nibble away at the troops’ food rations – and leaving their disease-carrying droppings behind – cats were the perfect companion on Naval vessels and in soldier camps.
The cats kept the vermin populations at bay and, by extension, kept the soldiers nourished and healthy. Thankfully, the cat hero battalions were happy to do the job in exchange for an endless supply of squeaky snacks.
Marine Cpl. Edward Burckhardt found this kitten at the base of Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, the scene of some of the most brutal fighting of the war.
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