Cats in 20th Century History (Cats in War)

Plaque in memory of animals sacrificed during the First World War. Situated at the Memorial Dispensary in Kilburn, north west London, cats at war, cats in WWI

Plaque in memory of animals sacrificed during the First World War. Situated at the Memorial Dispensary in Kilburn, north west London.

 

Throughout both World War I and World War II cats in war exhibited bravery in extreme situations.  Serving on battleships and in the trenches, cats proved their heroism in dire circumstances by doing what they were best at, being mousers, mascots, and affectionate companions.  During WWI, the British employed more than 500,000 cats to clear the often treacherous trenches of mice and rats.  Cats also alerted troops to drifting poisonous gas clouds saving thousands of lives.  Both cats and dogs were even accused of spying for the Germans. When they were observed crossing back and forth across British trenches by the 36th brigade of the 12th Division in July 1915, officers believed that they might have been delivering German messages across the lines.

 

 

 

During WWII, cats protected valuable food stores from vermin and were considered so important that they each received an extra powdered milk ration for their service.  The United States even sent thousands of American cats to France in its ‘Cats for Europe’ campaign.

WWII cats kill rats

WWII Cats Kill Rats

Most pictures of cats during WWII show them as affectionate companions or mascots.  Images of Felix the Cat, already so important to American history, were used as battalion and regimental emblems in WWI and WWII, and fighter pilots often drew pictures of cats on the sides of their planes.  Felix type emblems were also worn as company insignia.

Felix the Cat F-4 airplane, cat mascots, black cats, cat insignia, cat in war

Felix the Cat on the side of a Boeing F4B-4, 1930’s

 

 

Fat Cat, September or October 1943 at Doba Dura cats at war, war cats, cat mascots

Fat Cat on side of B-25 Mitchell
September or October 1943 at Doba Dura

 

 

WWII LT Edward Butch O'Hare in a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat The wartime censor has blanked out the famous Felix the Cat squadron insignia on this photo

WWII LT Edward Butch O’Hare in a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat with  Felix the Cat squadron insignia

 

Wing Commander Ian "Widge" Gleed, leader of No. 244 Wing, in his Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB at an airfield in Tunisia, April 1943. Days later he was shot down and killed by Messerschmitt Bf 109s over Cape Bon.

Wing Commander Ian “Widge” Gleed, leader of No. 244 Wing, in his Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB at an airfield in Tunisia, April 1943. Days later he was shot down and killed by Messerschmitt Bf 109s over Cape Bon.

 

VF-3 VF-6 VF-31 MILITARY, PATCH, WWII, cats in war, Felix the Cat

VF-3 VF-6 VF-31 MILITARY PATCH

 

Cat Fight WWII Air Force Patch, cats at war, cats in WWII

Cat Fight WWII Air Force

 

VPB-44 Black Cat squadron logo. It was designed during WWII by VP-44 pilot LT Don Black. Note the radar antennas on the top of the cat's head. (Established as Patrol Squadron FORTY FOUR (VP-44) on 3 June 1941. Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron FORTY FOUR (VPB-44) on 1 October 1944.

VPB-44 Black Cat squadron logo. It was designed during WWII by VP-44 pilot LT Don Black. Note the radar antennas on the top of the cat’s head. (Established as Patrol Squadron FORTY FOUR (VP-44) on 3 June 1941. Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron FORTY FOUR (VPB-44) on 1 October 1944.

 

WWII USAAF Black Cat 418 Night Fighter SQDN Patch

WWII USAAF Black Cat 418 Night Fighter SQDN Patch

 

USS Sea Cat SS 399 --WWII Submarine Battle Flag, USN Navy, cats on insignia and flags

USS Sea Cat SS 399 –WWII Submarine Battle Flag, USN Navy

 

Felix-Anarchist Cat - a WWII patriotic stamp, Felix the Cat, cats at war, cat mascots, black cats

Felix-Anarchist Cat – a WWII patriotic stamp

 

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