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Modern Wars & Warfare General discussion on war. Topics that are not covered in any of our sub-forums below. .

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  #1  
Old 16 Jun 16, 11:17
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Cats

I couldn't find a thread about cats, so here goes.


Quote:
Our Furry Recruits : Cats of War

Thursday 21 January 2016 by Stephanie Boyle. 1 comment





https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/300848/

Image : The ship's cat off duty, aboard armed merchant ship HMAS Kanimbla, circa 1941 AWM .300848



When people went to war, cats went too.

Its a little known fact that cats and even kittens accompanied men and women into the fields of battle, both at sea and on land. "War cats" had two important roles: “official mascot” for the regiment, squadron or ship; and “rat catcher”, a less glamorous, though no less essential duty.

But whether photographed as a mascot, working cat or adoptee - for often, in the field of battle, cats and kittens were adopted by troops - cats have performed another essential role: raising morale. With their amusing and affectionate behaviour, they helped remind men and women far from Australia of "normal" life, and the comforts of home. The British experience was very similar. As one of the curators of the Imperial War Museum recently said:

“It was probably something to do with holding on to a bit of normality... offering a bit of innocence in contrast to the horror around them. Because the one thing they couldn’t blame for everything bad that was happening around them was an animal.” (Paul Cornish, IWM)

In common with our sailors, soldiers, nurses and airmen, many a cute kitty has had its portrait taken. Enjoy this selection of photographs from the Memorial’s collection, showing cats at war.
[.....]
https://www.awm.gov.au/blog/2016/01/...uits-cats-war/



Quote:
On board HMAS Perth, Sunda Strait: Cats may have nine lives but Red Lead, the ship's cat on HMAS Perth, seemed to know that hers had come to an end 74 years ago.

Legend has it that Red Lead repeatedly tried to run away while the HMAS Perth was being refuelled at the port of Tanjung Priok, in what is now Jakarta, the night before the ship was torpedoed.

"Sailors are superstitious ... They said afterwards the cat knew something was afoot," says Ivan Ingham, the captain of the current HMAS Perth, the third ship to bear that name.

Red Lead was named after the pawprints she trekked through the ship after walking through red paint, which annoyed the World War II sailors no end.

Red pawprints are also dotted through the HMAS Perth III - one of the many touching ways it has kept alive the memory of the World War II cruiser.

On Wednesday, HMAS Perth III held a memorial service over the site of the wreck to honour the 375 Australians - and one cat - who died in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra.
[.....]
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/sailors-...#ixzz4BkxCTLGB
Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

http://www.smh.com.au/world/sailors-...15-gpjopp.html
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Last edited by At ease; 16 Jun 16 at 11:26..
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  #2  
Old 16 Jun 16, 11:24
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I knew of one that was nicknamed "LBR".


(That's "Life Boat Rations".)
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Old 16 Jun 16, 13:00
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Some cats in WW1 in the trenches were very good gas detectors giving the men more time to put their masks on and pull the gas blanket over the dug out entrance where the cat sought refuge. Unfortunately they couldn't detect gas coming over contained in shells
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Old 16 Jun 16, 13:15
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On a darker note Pvt. Sam Ross, 42nd Division US Army describes in a letter home the Germans using cats to disturb the wire in front of the trenches at night and cause the sentries to give the alarm which meant everyone had to stand to and loose sleep
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Old 16 Jun 16, 18:38
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Quote:
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On a darker note Pvt. Sam Ross, 42nd Division US Army describes in a letter home the Germans using cats to disturb the wire in front of the trenches at night and cause the sentries to give the alarm which meant everyone had to stand to and loose sleep
How did they get the cats to cross No Man's Land and disturb the wire?
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Old 16 Jun 16, 19:12
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How did they get the cats to cross No Man's Land and disturb the wire?
They just tried to keep them away from it.
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Old 16 Jun 16, 19:33
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They just tried to keep them away from it.
Oh...of course...
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Old 17 Jun 16, 04:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
How did they get the cats to cross No Man's Land and disturb the wire?
Doubtless they got carried across in a sack and released short of the wire.

My family have had cats that had two homes - persuading (or should that be purrsuading) new neighbours that they were strays and getting two meals a day that way. Richard van Emden in "Tommy's Ark" has an extract from a British Officer's memoires in which said officer suspects his cat was doing much the same - the other home being a German dug out
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Old 17 Jun 16, 05:10
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Quote:

Famous and Well Known Wartime Cats

By Victoria Heuer

[.....]

Image #1 Ship's cats on board the HMS Hawkins, 1919

[.....]

Image #2 Able Seacat Simon

Able Seacat Simon (his official title), of the Royal Navy’s HMS Amethyst, began his career in 1948 as the Amethyst’s formal ratter. During the time he served, Simon performed his duties so well that he was twice awarded in 1949. The first after a particularly grueling incident with Chinese forces, Simon was awarded an Amethyst campaign ribbon for his valiant service. The next was the Dickin Medal for animal gallantry. Simon is the only cat to have received the Dickin Medal, and when he died, he was buried with full naval honors.

Able Seacat Simon on board the HMS Amethyst with some of his shipmates, 1949.
http://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/...ve-cats-of-war
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File Type: jpg ships-cats-ww2.jpg (29.4 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg war-cats-seacat-simon.jpg (26.9 KB, 14 views)
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Last edited by At ease; 17 Jun 16 at 05:16..
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Old 17 Jun 16, 07:08
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The ultimate seafaring warcat was Oscar - originally the mascot of the Bismark Oscar survived the sinking and was picked up floating on a piece of wooden roofing to become HMS Cossack's mascot. He survived the torpedoing and sinking of the Cossack and was transferred to HMS Ark Royal which named him Unsinkable Sam. Unfortunately the Ark Royal was not unsinkable but a rescue launch found Oscar floating on a plank and picked him up "unharmed but quite angry". At this point it was decided to give him a shore posting, possibly someone decided that the cat was a bit of a Jonah (the destroyer that rescued him from Cossack also subsequently got sunk). He finally ended his days living in the home of a retired seaman (it should have been Del Trotter's Uncle Albert).
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Old 17 Jun 16, 09:35
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A miscellany

http://www.usni.org/news-and-feature...e-sea-services
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Old 17 Jun 16, 09:46
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IIRC, the Brits drafted over 100k cats to the trenches in WW1 to contain the rat problem.

The Veit Minh tried to use cats to harass Foreign Legion outposts at night, but it did not always work; Legion reports indicate that on occasion the cats attacked the bag handler when released.
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Old 17 Jun 16, 10:11
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That is what I was wondering... cats never do what you want.

Surely they are not going to sprint to the barbed wire.
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Old 17 Jun 16, 11:12
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From:

Cats in Wartime

Quote:
[.....]
In World War I, the British army employed 500,000 cats as gas detectors and ratters in the trenches. During World War II, cats as guardians of food stores were so important to the war effort that thousands of them were donated by the British public and also by the US via a Cats For Europe scheme, with an official powdered milk ration for 'all cats engaged in work of national importance'. During that war, in Britain and many other countries, all pet animals, including cats, were hard hit by rationing — those that survived, that is: and many did not. In Britain it was actually illegal to give cats milk to drink and they were obliged to drink water (which we now know is better for them anyway). There was some heavy lobbying, though, on behalf of warehouse mousers that had a job to do, and sick cats, and for these the rule was relaxed so that they could have a dried-milk ration.
[.....]
http://www.purr-n-fur.org.uk/featuring/war01.html
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Old 17 Jun 16, 11:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
IIRC, the Brits drafted over 100k cats to the trenches in WW1 to contain the rat problem.

.
According to Van Emden "Tommy's Ark" dogs were the preferred control for rats and battalions had someone allocated the role of dog major to look after them. There are accounts of requests being made to the dog major for the loan of a good ratter to clean out a particular problem area. Its worth remembering that soldiers were not in the trenches continuously being rotated fire trench to support trench to rear (just behind the trenches) and spent more time living in deserted buildings and dug outs than in the trenches themselves (this becomes clear if one looks at battalion war diaries as I have been doing) and it seems that the really bad rat infestations where there (where food was available). By 1918 ferrets were being introduced for rat control but being a mite whiffy and not well house trained were not always popular in the dug outs. Most cats in the trenches appear to have been French or Belgian 'volunteers'. With the large number of abandoned or destroyed farms along the front there was an ample supply of semi feral cats already around. If any one has any verifiable sources for vast numbers of cats being 'drafted' and where they were acquired (and how) I would be very interested.
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Last edited by MarkV; 17 Jun 16 at 11:26..
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