The Story so far

Let us start at the very beginning, British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain had flown back from Germany in 1938 with a piece of paper that was meant to avert war with Germany. There was much rejoicing in the country, even the Downing Street cat was sent a parcel containing two tasty Dover soles by an anonymous well-wisher. Unknown to many, it was probably the last Dover sole enjoyed by the “Munich Mouser” or anyone else for quite some time…………….



Storm clouds were looming of that there was little doubt. Neville Chamberlain the British Prime Minister was viewed as an appeaser to Hitler yet, at least during 1938 Britain was going “hell for leather” building coastal defences, airports, airstrips, decoy airstrips, Nissan Huts and military equipment. Nissan huts were “going up” all around the country, they had many advantages over conventional buildings. They were cheap, made from corrugated iron and quick to assemble. The roof was semi-circular which made it difficult for bombs or shrapnel to hit or penetrate the curved shape of the corrugated iron. The floor area was made of concrete. Although Britain still possessed the world’s strongest Navy, the rest of the military was in disarray. Very little equipment had been renewed since WWI and with the financial depression of the 1930’s there was little will to spend money on defence.

The first sign of what the future might bring, came in the form of 38 million gas masks supplied from a factory in Manchester. These masks were for adults, children, babies, asthmatics and could be available for certain sizes of dogs. Dogs had experience of gas masks on the Western Front. Many people lived in fear of a gas attack, the images from the gas attacks of WWI were fresh in the minds of most people and made the blood run cold. The worst types of gasses used in WWI were Phosgene, Chloride and Mustard gas which led to blindness as well as internal and external bleeding. Throats and lungs would close-up with many fighting for breath, some up to 5 weeks before death occurred. In the early part of that war, before gas masks, the men exposed to gas were told to hold a urine-soaked cloth over their face. Tear Gas was initially used as a “disabling gas” but it was abandoned when the Gas turned to liquid at low temperature. Phosgene symptoms were similar to Mustard Gas but with more nausea and vomiting. Chlorine gas had similar symptoms to Phosgene and Mustard Gas but chlorine created worse blurred vision and skin blisters.

 British mail and telephone boxes were painted with a special red paint that would turn green with exposure to gas. Anti-gas paint was also painted to specific parts of railway trains. This would help in rural areas to see if they had any exposure to gas. It was mandatory for everyone in Britain to have their gas mask with them at- all- times. Women could buy a handbag where there was a compartment designed to carry a gas mask. The Air Raid Precautions Wardens always had a (football stadium style) RATTLE to draw attention if a localised gas attack occurred or more likely gas leaks from bombed buildings. The Rattle also had the advantage of being wooden which would not create sparks. * Meanwhile the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was invaded on 15th March 1939*


Before the outbreak of WWII, a memorandum was sent out to vets and the Scottish SPCA and was picked up by other animal organisations. The memorandum was to encourage owners to use their masks in front of their pets so as their pets would get used to the muffled voice and ghoulish appearance. This was an excellent idea, but it was not all “plain sailing”. One woman put on her mask and went down on all-fours whist speaking sweet nothings to her pooch. Unfortunately, little pooch bolted out the door and was never seen again!  *  Poland was over-run in September 1939*


Another sign of the times was the delivery of the Anderson Shelter. This shelter consisted of a prefabricated tunnel made of corrugated metal and having a concrete floor. It was a bit like a miniature version of the Nissan Hut. The finished shelter was buried 3ft underground in the garden and covered with a thick layer of soil and turf. By the 25th February 1939, 1.5 million Anderson Shelters were installed in North London to all householders who earned less than 5 Pounds a week, whilst those on a higher income would be charged 7 Pounds. The Anderson Shelters were very effective, but they were also cold, damp and prone to flooding in wet weather, they were not suitable for the very young, sick or old. In total 3.5 million shelters were made with many other people constructing their own shelters from the basic Anderson design.


It was during 1939 that the late/great Bruce Forsyth made his television debut on a talent show called “Come and be Televised” as a child singer & dancer. Before much longer BBC TV at Alexandria Palace was switched off due to wartime financial restrictions. There was also a concern that the TV signal may be used as a beacon for enemy aircraft. BBC TV had been running for only 3 years and had an audience of just 25,000 viewers. She was switched off on Friday 1st September 1939 the last programme being “Mickey’s Gala Premier” by Disney.  Scots Television inventor John Logie Baird was now carrying out research into early radar and fibre optics. Yet it would be his fellow countryman Robert Watson -Watt and his research team that had the unenviable task of finding answers quickly to developing the Radar technology before it was too late. Robert Watson-Watt’s team were initially based in Suffolk They then relocated to Dundee University College and finally returned back to the south coast in Dorset. Another group working against the clock would be the Code Breakers at Bletchley Park. Most important for them was breaking the German Enigma code.


The German Battleship the Graf Spee was an armoured pocket battleship scuttled in the River Plate off Montevideo, Uruguay after having been chased and trapped. The Graf Spee wreaked havoc with British shipping in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Its destruction virtually eliminated German sea power outside the North Atlantic.

Herbert Chalkley was a WWII British sailor who was awarded the D.S.M or (Distinguished Service Medal) for saving many lives including the ship’s cat Scouse, at the battle of the River Plate in South America during December 1939. According to witnesses when the ship arrived back in Britain, Scouse was first down the gang plank!


Many sweeping changes were needing to take place before the country was ready for war. All British maps had to be removed from shops, all railway station signs and road signs were removed. The security services were watching for farmers cutting crops out of season or in unusual patterns. They would come under suspicion of trying to convey messages to airborne enemy aircraft or providing runways for the enemy. * The BBC Radio 4 Shipping Forecast mentioned 31 sea areas that were all named after sandbanks. The forecast was taken off the air during WWII to avoid helping enemy ships*

To raise money for the war effort all metal railings were removed, and old or unused iron and aluminium pots were gathered up by the millions around the country to be melted down for the war effort. All sorts of war funding initiatives were launched. Food and fuel rationing was just around the corner, it was said that the RATION BOOKS were already made up and were being kept in safe storage.  Barrels of tar were placed in strategic areas such as reservoirs to be lit if, necessary to create a smoke screen. Near the outbreak of war women added a lining to their curtains to make “black out curtains”.

Before the outbreak of war many lighthouses were switched off or used intermittently, with others being dimmed. Even when switched off, the white building could be a beacon for Luftwaffe aircraft during day raids so many lighthouses had to be camouflaged. In 1939 The Defence of the Realm Act was passed through parliament just as it had been in 1914. It was also known as the riot act, as it banned public meetings of a certain number, the government could also authorize the entering and searching of premises. This power extended to the requisition of boats, trawlers, cars, land or the enforcing of industrial conscription as seen necessary for the war effort * In Britain during WWII one in ten of the female population was a member of the Woman’s Voluntary Service. * 


On Friday the 1st September 1939 Operation PIED PIPER began which saw the evacuation of children from British cities. It was a profoundly difficult decision for the parents but done in the best interests of the children. Some children were evacuated as far as Wales and even the Lake District. Mothers would also be evacuated if their children were very young. For a woman having to live in another woman’s home, could be tense and awkward to say the least. All the cities horses, ponies, mules etc were removed from big built-up areas in case they panicked and became out of control with the potential for aerial bombardment. Around this time in 1939 over 1 million healthy pets were euthanized in various medically prepared vans as well as at animal welfare centres and Vets. The government had encouraged the euthanasia because of the threat of merciless gas attacks as well as the terrible prospect of aerial bombing as witnessed during the Spanish Civil War. In parliament there were arguments as to whether the country was going to have enough food to feed the pets. Many followed the advice and had their pets euthanized, many would regret the decision. As for all the other pets and owners, they would have to wait and see.

On Sunday the 13th of September 1939 came a radio announcement that would reverberate down the years, “WE ARE NOW AT WAR WITH GERMANY”. One London woman would later claim that her dog shot out it’s basket and “stood to attention at the historic moment”! For most of Great Britain the next few months were relatively quiet and became known as the PHONEY WAR however this was not the case for those living in Caithness and Orkney. German Bombers began by targeting Scapa Flow, anchorage of the British Fleet on Orkney. They began on 17th October 1939, due to the long flying distance the German pilots were offered Fliegerschokolade (Flyers Chocolate) which was a chocolate bar laced with Methamphetamine to keep the pilots alert and concentrated.


 On the 14th October 1939 the German submarine U-47 was able to penetrate the Scapa Flow submarine nets and sank HMS Royal Oak. Causeways were built to block off the eastern approaches to the flow, they would be known as the Churchill Barriers.  Around this time the troop train known as The Jellicoe Express, named after British WWI Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe began carrying military personnel from London Euston - Thurso on a regular basis for transfer via ferry to Scapa Flow. Up to this point in time bombs dropped on Caithness were bombs where the Luftwaffe were “forced off their intended target” however in time the Luftwaffe were noticing a greater amount shipping heading towards Scapa Flow, so Thurso Bay was targeted. The minesweeper H.M.S. Beech was sunk in Thurso Bay not far from Burnside / Scrabster.  During the First and Second World War a total of 500,000 personnel travelled on the Jellicoe trains many with standing room only. There were stops along the route usually Salvation Army “Home Front” vans supplying food and refreshments.

 To accommodate the thousands of servicemen and women who came through Thurso on their way via Scrabster to Orkney a large transit camp was built. The camp was housed on the western edge of the town. The main gate entrance still remains in part, just opposite Pennyland House, which was the birthplace of Boys Brigade founder William Smith. Early in the war the government felt that Germany would invade Britain through the north of Scotland. All the beaches in Caithness / North Sutherland needed protection. Anti- tank blocks were placed at all the beaches with a machine gun Pillbox and look-outs constructed on the shore in Thurso and Wick with anti-tank blocks put in place at each side to protect it. Lookouts were also built, higher up on the Victoria Walk on the Thurso Esplanade. The first RAF Squadron to be based at Wick was No 269 Sqn arriving in October 1939, followed by 43 Squadron arriving in 1940 and also the 111 Squadron. * By the war’s end, Caithness would have 5 airfields and one emergency landing airfield. *    

 RAF Wick was bombed on several occasion and the town of Wick was bombed several times and strafed by machine gun fire. * A beautiful Memorial Garden has been built to the memory of those who died or were injured during the bombing raids. * Schools in Caithness were being prepared against Air-Raids. A sandbag shelter was being provided in the corridor of the Miller Academy building in Thurso. Anti-splinter gauze had been affixed to the windows of Wick High School and there was safety provision for all the country schools in the County. To give you a measure of how seriously the British took the possibility of a gas attack, there was a Gas Decontamination room built at RAF Castletown. A total of 222 bombs fell on Caithness during the early period of the war including the first Mainland bomb of the war. (My mum lived near the harbour in Thurso and remembered the noise and the eerie red sky radiating out from Scapa Flow in these early days).

At Dunnet Head there were fortifications built during WWII to help protect the Naval Base at Scapa Flow including a Chain Home Radar station and a bunker used by the Observer Corps. Burifa Hill on Dunnet Head was a “master station” and a monitoring station of the northern chain of Radio Navigation stations. During WWII the Links hotel, (Northern Sands) was used by the RAF to accommodate pilots from nearby RAF Castletown / Thurdistoft Fighter Station, No13. Group Fighter Command, for Scapa Flow and Northern Scotland.


During WWII, Rosyth and the surrounding area was at high risk from attack. The Royal Navy Dockyard at Rosyth received its first bombing raid on 16th October 1939. H.M.S. Southampton was hit as it lay alongside HMS Edinburgh and on the same day HMS Mowhawk a destroyer on escort duty was also hit. Rosyth Dockyard is a large naval dockyard in Fife. It was constructed in 1909 at a time when the Royal Navy was strengthening its presence along the eastern seaboard of Britain. This was done to keep pace with Germany’s growing naval threat. During both World Wars many trawlers were refitted to perform the task of minesweepers. This area was also vulnerable to bombing from the Luftwaffe because, as they returned from Clyde-side along the same route as they came. Some planes would drop any left-over bombs on Fife before heading south across the North Sea.


 In the early part of WWII German Magnetic Mines were causing havoc for British shipping. They were placed on the seabed of the Allied sea routes as well as in the estuary of British towns and cities. When these mines exploded there was nothing to see. Usually sea mines were big round mines with spikes for all to see, but magnetic mines lay await on the sea-bed. A ship that passed tens of metres above would be enough to trigger the mine and explosion. A breakthrough to counteract these mines began in November 1939. One of these devices landed on the mud flaps of the Thames Estuary and would provide the clue’s needed to develop countermeasures. This led to a procedure called “wiping” or degaussing of all ships which removed the electrical charge on all ships. It was carried out by a degaussing belt. With this done regularly the Mines would not detonate.


 On the 10th May 1940 it was decided that Winston Churchill would take over as Prime Minister from Neville Chamberlain, a popular decision amongst the British people. He took Nelson his cat with him yet strangely the “Munich Mouser” also remained at 10 Downing Street. The two cats exchanged pleasantries, but it was noticed that the “rough and tumble” Nelson was given a larger portfolio. Whilst Nelson would have “mousing” duties, he would also sit- on Winston’s lap and hear all his war concerns as well as be in-attendance at the occasional War Cabinet Meetings at No10. (In the fullness of time the two cats were eyeing each other from under the furniture and a Cabinet “Re-Scuffle” took place, that Nelson won.  The Munich Mouser would be chased from No 10 Downing Street to hopefully take up residence at a lesser Ministry, sadly there was still no Dover Sole!)

  It was in 1940 that a new type of air-Raid shelter called the Morrison shelter began distribution. Not everyone was fit to spend time in an Anderson shelter. During WWII most coal was standard, there was no smokeless fuel for offices, factories and homes, this resulted in Smog. This was a fog or haze mixed with smoke and Sulphur Dioxide that hung in the air periodically in large cities. Many were forced indoors, especially those with heart and lung conditions such as Emphysema, Bronchitis and Asthma. The smog would trigger wheezing, coughing and shortness of Breath. The Morrison shelter was set up at home and consisted of a strong wooden base and top (could double up as a dinner table) and a wire cage fitted all around. It was about the size of a double bed and gave a reasonable sense of security, but it was not as effective as the Anderson Shelter. Half a Million Morrison shelters were distributed with many more people building their own, similar-to the Morrison’s construction. Many a dog and cat spent their time in this shelter along with their owners during Air-Raids.


 Meanwhile across the English Channel there was news that the German Army had crossed through the Ardennes forest and was now over the river Meuse. Warning bells were ringing for the French and the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F). *Belgium had surrendered on the 28th MAY 1940* The B.E.F was quickly making for the coast with all their Belgian adopted homeless dogs and a few cats. Back in Britain the new HOME GUARD Defence Force was quickly announced for men between 15-65 and was called the Local Defence Volunteers. Within 24 hours 250,000 volunteers offered their services, many were battle hardened veterans of WWI. The PDSA had a surgery/hospital in a place called Bievre not far from Paris. They attended to sick and exhausted animals, but the call had come to finish off and head towards the coast as fast as possible. The hospital was soon to fall into German hands where it became a hospital for their horses. * When the Nazi high officials arrived in Belgium they went to the workplace of Tin-Tin author Herge. They banned two of his books Tin-Tin in America and The Black Island, set in Scotland (billions of blue blistering barnacles!!)*

The miracle of Dunkirk or Operation DYNAMO was the incredibly large number of men that were rescued from the beach by the Navy and a flotilla of small private British boats. In all there was Royal Navy Craft, R.N.L.I  Life-Boats, ferries, fishing boats and pleasure craft helped by air cover to the south. A total of (338,226) souls were saved by 700 boats however this evacuation would never have been as successful but for a unit of French troops that never surrendered and British troops mainly from Scots Highland Regiments. They managed to slow down the German advance towards the coast. They “dug themselves in” at a town called St Valery hoping to be evacuated sometime later themselves but tragically their ship could not come ashore because of fog. Exhausted and virtually out of ammunition the majority were either killed or taken prisoner.

  *France surrendered on the 14th JUNE 1940* Despite the massive “let off” at Dunkirk it was obvious that the lights were going out all over Europe. Great Britain now stood alone but she did stand united. To aid the Dunkirk evacuation the British Navy managed to “swipe” 400 ships in just 4 days. Swiping or degaussing is an electrical process where the natural electrical charge of the ship is nullified therefore reducing the danger of triggering German magnetic mines.


 The war had now come perilously close, and the decision was made to organise a second wave of evacuations from all south English coastal towns. The total number of evacuees now hit 3,750,000. Between June and September 1940, approval was given for evacuation overseas in Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. As for all the dogs and cats that made it across the channel with the B.E.F and some French troops, they were given quarantine by The Dumbs Friend League. * During the occupation of Europe, the BBC World Service would broadcast the sound of Bow Bells in London as a symbol of defiance and hope for the people of Europe* 


Food and fuel were to play a big role in Britain’s survival. Britain had to import an enormous amount of food (55 Million Tons). They only produced 30 % of its domestic needs. British fuel needed to be imported also. Fuel rationing was the first to be implemented closely followed by food rationing. The first items of food to be rationed were Butter, Sugar and meat with bacon and butter becoming less available since the fall of *Denmark in April 1940.and with Holland over-run on 10th May 1940*.

 The shortage of cooking oil meant that baking was non-existent for many households during those war years. Powdered eggs were to replace or supplement the normal hen eggs. Fish was not on ration as its availability was uncertain due to the weather and U-Boat activity. Those wanting fish would often queue a long time. Reliance on imported food had to be cut to a minimum. Breakfast for a working man, consisted of tea with bread and butter or dripping. In rural areas that may have been porridge. Some essential foods were not rationed such as bread, milk and potatoes. As well as ration coupons, people were allocated “points” for tinned and some imported foods such as sardines or tinned fruit. For special occasions such as Christmas a family had to save hard, their coupons and points. As the war dragged on, rationing got tighter. To add to the struggle for housewives, they were having to queue for a significant part of the day just for basic groceries.  

It was during the summer of 1940, when Britain was at her lowest ebb, that Winston Churchill called for the raising of an elite force of men to take on the enemy in Europe and regain the initiative for Britain. This force was known as the COMMANDO’S, they did their rigorous training in the hills and mountains of Lochaber in the Highlands.

 Timber restrictions meant that Christmas trees were rarely seen, and women’s shoe heels could not be any more than 2 inches high. With fuel restrictions, all central heating in offices and homes had to be turned off during the summer months. Clothing did not escape restrictions either, women’s coats, or skirts were shorter to save on material. Most women were delighted as it was a welcome departure from the style of the pre-war years. Men and women’s suits, jackets and trousers were being manufactured without inside or outside pockets to save on material. * In Great Britain during WWII children were encouraged to walk along hedgerows to gather the wild Rose Hips that was high in vitamin C. This would later be a source of nourishment for babies. *


 Christmas 1939 would be the last without Rationing and the last Christmas before the war truly impacted. Many thought the war would be over by Christmas, just as they said about WWI. Families would celebrate Christmas early as many menfolk had duties on Christmas Day. Children’s toys were war themed, such as Army, Navy and Air-Force uniforms. This would be the last year of the totally traditional Christmas. This was the beginning of the King’s, Christmas speech which has lasted to this day. War-time baths were limited to 5 inches of water once a week. In large families one would pile in after the other.    

Christmas 1940 was the first under ration conditions, as imported foods such as fruit were non-existent the Ministry for food came up with some “tips” eg: You could fill your Christmas fruit bowl with brightly coloured vegetables such as carrots and beetroot. You could also improve your home-made greenery, (Christmas decorations) by dipping them in a strong solution of Epsom Salts for a “beautiful frosty appearance”. Christmas gifts were all practical such as garden tools, seeds, bottling jars and even a bag of fertiliser! The most popular gift in 1940 was soap, to have any chance of a good Christmas dinner, food or point coupons were saved months in advance. Best gift for kids was sweets, difficult to buy in Ration-times. In the interests of morale alcohol and tobacco were not rationed, they were seen as a “main stay” of working people. Popular makes of cigarettes were Woodbines, Craven A, Player’s Navy Cut as well as many pipe smokers’ tobacco.

Christmas 1941 saw greater austerity with petrol and manpower shortages which meant that shops could no longer deliver goods to customer’s homes and there was no more wrapping paper for goods/gifts. People worked even harder to deliver a traditional Christmas dinner. Due to the effort that people had made at Christmas and its positive effect on morale, the government deliberately held back the bad news that on Christmas day 1941, Hong Kong had surrendered to Japan. There were no Children’s Annuals during the war, but the children would be given extra comics for Christmas. As the shortages start to bite the Ministry of Food suggested foods like Rosehip Marmalade, Rabbit (dumplings), Corned beef and oatmeal Pudding, Dried Egg Recipes and Carrot Scones.


After Rationing began it was only a matter of time before an illegal BLACK MARKET followed. The Black Market gave people the opportunity to buy items, otherwise controlled, for an inflated price. As rationing became more restrictive the market for black goods became greater. A person suspected of dealing in the Black Market could be fined 500 Pounds and a possible 2 years in prison. There were over 900 inspectors to enforce the law. By 1945 there was 114,000 prosecutions for black market activities. The black market did many dealings in the dim of the black-out. Singer and composer Ivor Novello moved his family down from Wales to London where he composed the great WWI favourite “Keep the Home Fires Burning”.  How-ever some years later, during WWII his fortunes took a tumble when he was arrested for misusing petrol coupons during a rationing period. Ivor was jailed for 8 weeks in 1944, many say he never got over the public humiliation.


As the war was progressing Britain was losing an unstainable number of ships mainly due to U-Boats with- this- in- mind it was decided to return all the horses, donkeys etc back to the city streets to conserve as much fuel for essential services and military use. The King had permitted the use of the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace as an emergency horse standing for 20 animals and a first aid post and horse ambulances was also stationed. Many animal shelters were dotted around the cities. Owners of horses, donkeys etc were also given detailed instructions on how to control their animals during an air-raid by N.A.R.P.A.C. (National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee). It was a popular choice to return all the police horses to the cities, in-fact 3 London Police horses, Olga, Regal and Upstart would be awarded the Dickin medal in 1947 for their bravery and attention to duty in the most demanding of times during the Blitz. Despite the carnage all around them they displayed great control and discipline which had a positive effect on the people all around them. Horses and donkeys were put on a Ration Card whilst Pigs and Poultry were fed on cheap imported corn.

Rationing in Germany was kept to a minimum. Hitler knew that cutbacks during WWI had led to political unrest, so he ordered that restrictions should be kept low. Extra rations were given to people considered important to the war effort, such as workers in heavy industry. There was also extra food for pregnant women and blood donors. From 1942 onward in Germany, pressure was introduced on the home-front to raise productivity as TOTAL WAR was introduced. What this meant was that both the Military and the whole of society were mobilised for war production. The Nazi party took early control of the Press and Radio.


 Many in the Admiralty had been racking their brains for ways to prevent U-Boat shipping losses. By 1940, ships had Depth Charges operated by a pressure switch that could be adjusted for depth. The trouble with depth charges is that they could be inaccurate, in trying to blast U-Boats they were just as likely to go off early and blast a shoal of fish onto the deck, much to the delight of the Ship’s Cat! There was Sonar, but it had limitations, it could not detect a U-Boat that had surfaced as all submarines had to, at night to re-charge their batteries. There was also the Leigh light which was a powerful airborne searchlight which was fitted to the under-carriage of an aircraft. They would surprise and attack enemy U-Boats on the surface at night.

 Ships would also learn to zig zag this made it more difficult for U-Boats to estimate the ships position. Despite all these helpful methods, Britain was still losing far too many ships. * The pulse of sound or “ping” that you hear in all those tense submarine movies is the signal sent from the Sonar sender / receiver unit. The reason why you hear depth charges exploding and it shakes the U-Boat up but doesn’t sink it, is because the depth charges are exploding a distance away from the U-Boat *  


So, what of our floppy eared friend’s rations? During WWII Chappie dog food was being made at its factory in Slough, as was Kit-e-Kat. As time progressed due to War-time restrictions these items became harder to find and as the shortages increased Chappie would eventually contain 70% water. It was decided that it wasn’t worth the fuel costs to transport Chappie around the country. In the early part of the war cat and dog food came in glass jars. Some dogs were fed on stale bread and oatmeal made into a thick porridge. Dogs in military service received offal and oatmeal with the addition of a rusk. Some dogs were taking matters into their own paws! A Bristol family recalled how they were starting on a frugal supper of cheese and biscuits when the siren sounded, “we all dived under the dining room table as we heard the first bomb fall. On emerging we found our dog had “polished off” our suppers. He was licking his lips and looking not the least ashamed! Mind you, the dogs had it hard with next to no bones to enjoy. Bones were an important part of the war effort for making aircraft glue and producing glycerine for explosives.

So, what about the feline folk? Well, early in the war things didn’t look too bad but over time the U-Boats had destroyed many ships. Kit-e-Kat was very hard to find, and many cats were surviving on cod heads/fish heads. Even fish heads were not guaranteed, and their owners would queue for up to 4 hours for a SHEEP’S WINDPIPE or SHEEP’S LUNGS. Once home it would take another period to cook the windpipe. I don’t know how much nutrition was left in in a windpipe cooked for that amount of time, but I suppose it filled a hole. Many cats were also taking matters into their own paws! A Birmingham housewife recalled the shock in discovering, when emerging from their Anderson shelter that their cat had eaten the weekend joint!  * Cats that were doing official war work by keeping the Granary’s and stores rat and mouse free were only given a dried milk ration if the warehouse contained at least 250 tons of food or animal feed stuffs. As the Blitz continued and the mice and rat population increased, the laws were relaxed on issuing powdered milk to cats.  * (Unfortunately for this generation of pussycats there would be no “Kitty Pouches in a Rich Meaty Gravy” *


A renewed public appeal was made during wartime, in the Newspapers and on the radio for dogs to make a valuable contribution to the national effort. According to the thoughts of a Scottish dog this is how events unfolded. My mistress was listening to the radio one day, something about big dogs being needed. She got up all of a sudden and said, “Rex you’ve got to go and do your duty, you’re going to be a “soger” dog”! The breeds preferred were German Shepherds and Crosses, Airedales, Boxers, working Collies, Labradors, Curly Coated Labradors and Bull Terriers. These dogs would be used abroad or at home they were used to guard prisoner-of-war camps and defend industries from saboteurs at home. Other dog breeds such as Beagles were used to assist in the rehabilitation of wounded veterans. Meanwhile in Germany the Berlin dog newspaper, Die Hundewelt reported of a grand recruiting rally that had added almost 16,000 dogs to the Wehrmacht’s ranks.


Apart from newspapers the RADIO / WIRELESS was the main source of war-time information. In Britain there was close to 10 Million radios registered at the start of the war with 16 Million in use in Germany by 1942. The radio would take on greater importance with so many loved ones far from home. The larger radios would have a wooden casing / panel whilst the smaller radios had a casing made from a material known as Bakelite that pre-dated plastic. These radios were valve operated and took a little time to warm up. They came with mains power or battery- power, the advantage of a battery radio was that it would still work even if there was a  mains power outage. One disadvantage of the Battery powered radio was if the battery was low, say only 30%, the radio would start to distort. You always had to have a 2nd fully charged battery, (accumulator) at hand.

 The radio was mainly used for News Bulletins however there was some popular programmes such as WORKER’S PLAYTIME, THE NAVY LARK, & I.T.M.A. (It’s that Man Again). Worker’s Playtime was a morale building show for all the British factory workers, working long hours. It began in in 1941 and was broadcast live from different factory canteens around the country. It was broadcast at lunchtime 3 times a week.   Hitler had banned the listening to British Radio yet it was well known that the Wehrmacht would listen to MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK and various British Dance Bands from across the channel.* The first BBC Radio presenter with a northern accent was Wilfred Pickles, he was given the job so as to make it more difficult for the Nazi’s to impersonate British news-readers. *

 A great favourite song of all Germans and especially the Afrika Corps was Lili Marlene sung by Marlene Dietrich. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels banned the song on account that Marlene Dietrich although German was now living and working in America. The Germans decided to swamp all the Radio Stations with requests for the song, eventually Goebbels relented. This very same song also became a favourite of the British 8th Army (Desert Rats). They had first “picked the song up” from Deutsche Radio Yugoslavia.


As the war progressed there were various schemes to help with food shortages. DIG FOR VICTORY was such a scheme to turn front gardens, backyards or any viable ground into vegetable growing plots of land. There was also LUMBER JILLS who would fell the trees for the wood needed for the war effort. There was also LAND GIRLS that would help on farms to insure the best possible harvest. By 1944 there were 80,000 women in the British Woman’s Land Army. In the cities many women answered the call to take over from all the enlisted men in factories and munitions plants around the country. One tragic story from this early time was that many young women wore their hair with a kiss-curl at the front or grew their hair long in keeping with their Hollywood idols who did similar. Tragically for the women operating high speed lathes, this kiss-curl or long hair was accidentally fed into the machinery leaving a section of their scalp and hair ripped out.

 Not long after, it became mandatory for all machinists to keep their hair covered with a head scarf, this was a popular move in many ways. The women all wore the same dull boiler-suits which gave them little individuality so when the opportunity came to wear their own headscarves it gave them all a sense of identity. Many women wore their headscarves in a turban style, all with different colours. Some had a war-time slogan on the front, such as “Switch that light off!” Most of all it was keeping many free from accidents.



 Although Penicillin was discovered  by Ayrshire man Alexander Fleming in 1928 it only became more readily available in the early 1940’s, initially it was just made available for Allied servicemen/women. The new drug saved 15% of Allied servicemen’s lives during WWII, saving those with pneumonia, scarlet fever, diphtheria and meningitis. It took a long time for Penicillin to be commercially viable and during the war it was still in short supply so they would take the steps of recycling the drug from the urine of treated patients.  * The first civilian patient to be treated with Penicillin was Albert Alexander, a 43-year-old British policeman on 12th February 1941*


Apart from the Cinema and the Dance Halls there was one other popular entertainment in British cities, it was called MUSIC HALL. This type of entertainment was similar to Cabaret in France or Vaudeville in America. There would be a mixture of acts which included Singers, Musicians, Comedians and some novelty acts. Some of the performers were: Arthur Askey, Gracie Fields, George Formby, Will Hay, Hylda Baker, Max Miller the (Cheeky Chappie), Tommy Trinder, Flanagan and Allen, and some “strange” ancient Egyptian dancing from Wilson, Keppel and Betty. Due to the war, the acts would consciously try to raise spirits and most of the audience would leave in better spirits than when they arrived.

 * Betty Driver was a war-time film actress and big band singer. During the 2nd World War Driver travelled throughout Europe with E.N.S.A. (Entertainments National Service Association) entertaining the troops. She came out of retirement in 1969 and played the role of Betty Turpin for 40 years as a barmaid in the soap Coronation Street. *

What was 1939/40 like for women with their Children evacuated and Menfolk called up for Military Service? Another great/simple pleasure was the CINEMA, once the lights darkened and the movie began you could switch off from the outside world for a while. Films from 1939 included Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach and Mr Smith goes to Washington. Films from 1940 included, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Dictator, Pinocchio and The Shop around the Corner.

From 10th July unto 31st October 1940, Germany launched an air offensive in preparation for an invasion of Great Britain. Hitler had ordered the preparation of OPERATION  once the Luftwaffe had air superiority over the UK. They had hoped to knockout British aircraft, runways and airports and radar stations to gain air superiority and then launch an amphibious attack however they were met with strong opposition from the RAF. This aerial conflict became known as THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN. The British were to prevail in a battle that went down in history as one of the most important ever fought on these Islands. The RAF using Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes and with the benefit of early, Chain Radar lost 915 planes against the German total of 1,733. The German’s had failed to knock-out the Chain- Radar stations which made a difference, also via the control towers the British pilots could communicate with one and other. Spitfires would cruise in formation at 300 mph between cloud layers at 6,000 ft.

 In September 1940 RAF Bomber Command went on night raids and greatly disrupted the German preparation of converted barges that were to be used as landing craft for the German amphibious landing. The turning point of the aerial war came on the 15th September when two massive waves of German attacks were decisively repulsed by the RAF by deploying every aircraft in 11 Group. Sixty German and twenty- six RAF aircraft were shot down. Many brave men on both sides were to lose their life or endure lifelong injuries. Sir Archibald McIndoe a New Zealand national and plastic surgeon, pioneered techniques whilst treating many RAF pilots burned in WWII. McIndoe was a cousin of Plastic Surgery pioneer Harold Gilles and in 1930 Gilles invited his cousin to join the practice, he also suggested McIndoe should apply for a post at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. This was the point when McIndoe became committed to plastic surgery in which he became pre-eminent. His cousin Harold Gilles started using techniques in plastic surgery for seriously wounded and disfigured soldiers including performing skin grafts around the eyes during WWI which became “ground-breaking standards”. 

Churchill quote “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”


 The Observer Corps Volunteers provided RAF Fighter Command with the Numbers, Type and height of incoming aircraft as well as reporting and tracking of enemy aircraft over Britain. They were given the (Royal) title by his Majesty King George VI in April 1941 in recognition of services carried out by the Observer Corps during the Battle of Britain. Without their input there would have been no Air-Raid warning or inland interceptions.

The German Luftwaffe could no longer sustain the heavy loss of fighter aircrafts during the Battle of Britain, so Hitler decided to strike at the heart of Britain. This would mean that the cities were going to have to endure heavy aerial bombing with few places spared and with London receiving the greatest punishment. These attacks would be called the BLITZ!


Everyone knew something bad was going to happen and that it was going to happen soon. Everyone with a pet was getting them fitted with a NARPAC (National Air-Raid Precautions Animals Committee) identification disc so if their dog or cat got lost in the BLACK-OUT or the BOMBING they could hopefully be safely returned home by one of its volunteers. Many women now had a garment called a “war-time-onesie” designed for use in the air-raid shelter. Also known as a siren suit it could be pulled on quickly over-night clothes. Winston Churchill was often photographed in his own tailor-made siren suit.

AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS (A.R.P.) was organised by the British Government with the aim to protect civilians from the danger of Air-Raids. The ARP Warden would patrol the streets during Black-Out and ensure that no lights were visible from factories, offices or residential buildings. There was 1.4 Million APR Wardens in the UK most of whom were part time. The Warden would also report on the extent of British bomb damage and access help from the emergency services whilst making sure the rescue services were not impeded from entering the bomb sites. * It was the job of The Boy Scout Association to guide the fire engines to where they were most needed, they became known as the Blitz Scouts. *  

During the Black-Out car headlights had to be taped over leaving just a thin strip of light. Hand torches could only be used in a bag or covered in tissue paper to weaken the beam. Some people painted the front bumper of their car white. Many 1000’s of people died or were injured during the Black-Out alone. People were encouraged to walk “with traffic” and men were advised to leave their white shirt tails hanging out. It may have been a blessing in disguise when woman’s heels were reduced to 2 inches. The Black-Out was not a safe place for women in high heels.

The ARP Warden also had a handbell that he could use when necessary as well as a black torch / lamp with a front flap that prevented the light shining upward. There was also ARP wardens that acted as “runners” to convey messages quickly to different parts of the city or town. This was done on bicycle during the Black Out, it was a blessing they knew their way around the town or, city, however they sometimes came to grief from colliding with stationary trams. The power supply to the trams were cut off during Air-Raids and that’s where the trams lay. There was no time to have them parked away in the Depot.

 Apart from humans, the Black Out was an easy place for pets to be injured as people rushed back and fore inadvertently standing on a dog or cat’s paws in the poor visibility. The Dumbs Friend League devised a white saddle cloth for dogs, while the Daily Mail promoted a white coat for dogs to make them easier seen. There was another garment that came with jingling bells and the National Canine Defence League offered people the “Lustre Lead” which glowed with a green colour in the dark.

Gas attacks were still a possibility, so householders would use tape to seal all the window frames. All the windowpanes had masking tape fitted to the panes so that during a bomb blast if the windows blew in, at least the sharp shards would be stuck to the tape. To help in the Black-Out rush, the clothing industry came up with the idea of buttons that would glow in the dark. The buttons were coloured white but in Black-Out conditions they would give off a luminous blue colour. There were also florescent flowers you could pin on your lapel.


The first line of defence was the BARRAGE BALLOONS, these Barrage Balloons were instrumental in frustrating the Luftwaffe. The balloon and cable were a barrier to Dive Bombers and machine gun fire because the aeroplanes had to fly in excess of the Balloon and cable’s top height. The balloon was like a Cup Final Blimp but unmanned and without any internals, the top half was filled with hydrogen and the bottom half, filled with air (on elevation). The balloon was held by a cable which were fixed to winches on lorries. If an aircraft flew into the cables they would be destroyed also if an aircraft tried to shoot down the balloon the hydrogen would explode taking the aircraft with it. The German planes had no option but to fly above the height of the balloons.  The balloons were used extensively around the country. A typical repair centre was set up in Portsmouth, where the balloon crew would number 20 and they would anticipate raids. The crew were housed in sports centres and schools, (for food and sleep) and to be close to their work. There were an incredible 1,400 balloons in service in Britain by the middle of 1940. This provided Britain with some much-needed protection, but the balloons were of no use against high altitude bombers.


 It was Saturday**7th September 1940** men, women and animals knew something was wrong, but nobody knew what. The Air -Raid siren started up but, unlike all the practise drills the siren was continuing much longer. Many people described it as like a solar eclipse, the sky was becoming increasingly darker and there was a “goose-bump” coldness. The siren was still going, and you could hear a drone in the air. Bombers drew closer and closer. THE BLITZ HAD BEGUN! West Ham on the eastern edge of London was a mixture of Industry and housing. It contained the Royal Docks and many sprawling factories it would be first to feel the wrath!  During the first 3 weeks of the Blitz, London firefighters had to contend with 10,000 fires. Many buildings such as garages, local government offices and community centres were used to add extra firefighting stations to deal with the number of fires. Later in the year came the very welcome news that 422 men from across Canada had volunteered to assist the British Fire Brigade

 * During the Blitz many Fire-Fighters would find the water hydrants empty or ruptured. In times of low tide, the Fire crews would have to crawl across mud banks to find water. *  The hospitals and ambulances were going flat out, with the ambulance staff having the difficult job of deciding who was the worst injured. The British hospitals would have been a breeding ground for disease and infection if it wasn’t for the teams of voluntary women who scrubbed the hospitals nightly, from top to bottom. They would arrive to perform a most difficult heart-rendering job! During the War with all the smoke, including chemical smoke many people ended up in hospital with acute and chronic coughing. Chocolate whether the bar or Cocoa was used to suppress coughing, it was the chemical that kills dogs (Theobromine) that apparently settles the coughing down. In Hospitals during the War, chocolate was believed to be more effective than codeine cough medicine.


 At the beginning of the war British night air defences were in a poor state. Few anti-aircraft guns had “fire control systems” and the search lights were under-powered. The search lights were only effective up to 12,000ft whilst the Luftwaffe bombers flew at an operational altitude of 10,000 – 20,000ft. Another problem with the anti- aircraft guns was, they were unable to traverse fast enough. This meant, they could not sweep the gun fast enough left or right to “lock on” to the target. Despite the guns limitations the men were out at night firing away without much success. It was the best kept secret of the war because people at the sharp end of the bombing had to believe they were fighting back. One very important job that the Air-Raid guns did do was to prevent the Luftwaffe from flying lower than 10,000 ft. The lower the Luftwaffe flew the more accurate was the bombing. The downside, (and there’s always a downside) to higher or less accurate bombing was that the bombs could hit anywhere including residential areas.  The anti- aircraft guns would improve in time when heavier duty guns were brought in also Radar which at the time of the Blitz was quite basic would improve. Search lights would become Radar controlled. 

Quote from Churchill; “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat”

 In the early part of the Blitz when defences were poor, the British began constructing false airfields, built up areas and train movements. In 1940 dummy airfields were prepared, good enough to stand up to skilled observation. For industrial areas fires and lights were used to simulate heavy industrial decoy sights. Red lamps were used to simulate blast furnaces and locomotive fireboxes. Reflections of these lights were achieved by placing the lights under angled wooden panels. Carbon arc lights were used to simulate the flash of tram trains.


 * Around 2,000 new wartime establishments called BRITISH RESTAURANTS were run by local authorities in Schools and Church Halls up and down the country. Here a plain 3-course meal would cost 9d and no ration coupons were required. These restaurants began from the idea of the London County Council’s Londoner’s Meal Service which began as an emergency system for feeding people who had been Blitzed out of their homes. They were open to all and mostly served office and industrial, workers* 


In the early part of WWII, a German Bomber was shot down near Newport, South Wales. The bomber was found to have a cat on board. The war was now over for Herr Tiger the pocket- sized POW who was taken away to an animal shelter run by the good folk at Our Dumb Friends League.  (Herr Tiger was interrogated several, times but he refused to talk! After living with the Dumb Friends League, he became a docile and well-behaved cat. Herr Tiger never attempted escape!)


 In the early years of the war Hampstead Heath in North London had a vast tented encampment which was swarming with abandoned dogs and cats in a starving and poor condition. Despite the difficult circumstances, all the Animal Welfare charities and animal help groups rose to the challenge as best they could. The RSPCA treated and rescued by wars end, over 256,000 animals that were victims of enemy action. The PDSA were busy around the country with their Pet Surgeries and soon to be Search and Rescue. In 1940 the bombed-out animals from many parts of Britain that were in care, would receive a Christmas Party. Apart from the charities each bombed out town would have individuals setting out food for bombed out animals as soon as the all-clear sounded and on many occasions before-hand! All the charities were doing their best in the most appalling conditions and many were still tortured by the 1939 EUTHANASIA.

In 1939 around a million pets were euthanised in make-shift vans, rescue homes and Vets Practices. You and I have probably had to put, a very old or sick pet to sleep at one time or other and its HELL. These animal lovers in all those different charities in 1939 had to euthanise healthy tail wagging, bouncing pets in a conveyor-belt fashion. Many would be disposed of at the end of the day in trucks, the process would begin all over again the next day. The strain on many of the animal lovers working on the euthanasia programme became too great and many slipped into depression. Hundred’s more pets would die at the early part of the Blitz, however on this occasion euthanasia was a release for many bombed out pets.  For more detailed information on the arguments for and against the euthanasia as well as the plight of the war-time animals there is no better book than the excellent BONZO’S WAR by CLARE CAMPBELL.


Many homes were in possession of a Stirrup Pump, because, homeowners could tackle small fires on their own. This would allow the firefighters to concentrate on the larger fires. The Stirrup pump came with 30ft of hosing, the Stirrup or hand pump had a dual jet and spray nozzle. In an ideal world it was best operated by 3 people, one person would keep refilling the metal bucket with water, one would man the pump and the other tackled the fire with the hose.


During the Blitz, Arsenal and Tottenham football clubs had been sharing Spur’s White Hart Lane Stadium. Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium had been requisitioned by the war office to be used as a First Aid Training Centre. After September 1940 the East Stand of Spur’s White Hart Lane was closed, it had been commandeered as a mortuary for bomb victims. Poplar, the docks, West Ham’s Upton Park and Millwall’s Den all took heavy punishment. After one raid in 1940 an unexploded bomb was found lodged in the stands at Stamford Bridge, home of London club Chelsea. The bomb disposal unit was called but they were busy with 100’s of unexploded bombs across London with greater priority so the team manager Billy Birrell defused it himself! (Oh, for the days when Stands were made of wood and men were made of steel!) Exeter City’s, St James Park became a training ground for US Troops whilst Preston’s Deepdale and Swindon’s County Ground were used as POW camps. Forthbank Park was the home to King’s Park FC early in the war. It had the misfortune to be struck by the only bomb to strike Stirling during the whole war. The club managed to re-invent its-self, changing its name to Stirling Albion in 1945 and took up residence at Annfield Stadium.   * Due to the threat of aerial attack, all football matches were restricted to an attendance of 8,000 * 


The British cities were now to face a new deadly problem, INCENDIARIES. They were first used by bombers who dropped them over Warsaw, Poland at the beginning of WWII. An Incendiary is not a bomb as such but is carried in a bomb that opens up at a certain height and ignites the short sticks of wood/material impregnated with white phosphorus or other combustible material in small “Bomblets” * The R.S.P.C.A Animal Clinics in Southwark, Bristol and Manchester were completely destroyed by bombs in 1940 and the headquarters in London was also badly damaged. *

 The firefighters were already over-stretched, so something had to be done. A law was passed in 1940 requiring factories and businesses to appoint employees to watch for Incendiaries outside of working hours. They would have a water bucket and a stirrup pump as well as a bucket of sand. Any fire they could not get to, had to be reported to the fire service. Meanwhile back on the ground the Tea Vans were making their way around the bomb sites. There was The Salvation Army, The Woman’s Voluntary Service, Y.M.C.A. and others. Bomb survivors would be given tea and sandwiches as well as clothing and blankets. * During a six-month period of the Blitz a million tons of bombsite rubble from London was transported by railway on freight trains. The rubble was used to construct additional runways on RAF Airfields in East Anglia*

The British government was initially reluctant to allow Londoner’s to use the Underground Railway System as a bomb shelter but on the night of 19th/20th September 1940 people took it into their own hands and as early as 4 o’clock they made their way down to the underground with bedding and bags of food to sustain them overnight or for as long as it would take. Animals were banned, but many would be smuggled under coats or baskets. The government soon decided to close the short section from Holborn to the Aldwych and turned the tunnel into an air-raid shelter. This part of the Piccadilly line was closed to trains, tracks were concreted-over and reinforced floodgates were installed as a safety measure. The big worry was, if the bombers were to hit the Thames Embankments it may have resulted in the flooding of the Underground system.

 A total of 79 Underground stations were fitted with bunks for 22,000 people, all stations were supplied with First Aid facilities and chemical toilets. A total of 124 Canteens opened in all parts of the network. At the peak of the Blitz bombings, 180,000 per night sheltered within the Underground System. They would sleep on the rail tracks with children’s hammocks strung between the tracks. Many slept on the platforms and many, even slept on the stationary escalators. * The Polish-born Jewish mother of Talk Show Host Jerry Springer fled Nazi Germany to London and reportedly gave birth to the entertainer, whilst seeking refuge from Air -Attacks down in the London Underground System at the Highgate Stop*

 The Underground was much safer than ground level however if a bomb had a direct hit on the Underground it would cause a lot of damage. On the evening of the 14th of October 1940 one of the worst Underground disasters took place. The Luftwaffe were over-head and people had taken to the shelters including Balham Underground station. The Underground trains would still, of been running at the time and the numbers at the station would be swollen. At exactly 2min past 8pm a bomb hit the road above, causing a massive crater in the ground that almost swallowed up a Double Decker Bus. The people down below had their fate sealed when the bomb had ruptured a large water mains pipe and also a sewage pipe. The compacted earth was loosened by the bomb, so a sludge of earth, water and sewage started to flow into the Balham Underground station killing nearly 70 people. In- addition more than 70 people were injured.

    Due to the relative safety of the underground however, Aviation Electronics firm Plessy carried out a lot of its war work from down in the underground as did, The Government Administration. The British Museum housed a number of exhibits and works of art down in the Underground System, in order to protect their national treasures including the Elgin Marbles. General Eisenhower had a base at Goodge Street station, South Kensington that was used for various purposes, from a Signalling School to storing equipment used to study Time-Delay bombs.| To lighten the mood in the underground network some people would arrive with a small accordion or harmonica to get a sing-song started. If you didn’t sing you cried, it’s always better to sing. When trains were using the underground system, they would stop before entering the station, a Policeman and a Train Porter would walk the length of the platform pulling in arms and legs of those asleep at the platform edge, for safety sake.

 (To remain with the subject of trains), the normal train system had a set of blue lights that lit the railway station. When the red Air-Raid light came on all train lights were switched off. People could make their way to the nearest Air-Raid shelter, but many stayed on the train, not wanting to lose their seat! During wartime the trains needed to transport a lot more freight than normal making train passengers feel a little left out in the priority stakes.

The Bethnal Green Tube Station tragedy took place on Wednesday 3rd March 1943. There had been British Bombing the night before in Germany. This would often result in retaliatory bombing by Germany the following night. The Air-Raid siren sounded at 8.17pm triggering a heavy but orderly flow of people down a blacked-out staircase from the street. A middle- aged woman and a child fell over, others were to fall around her. They became tangled up in a ball/mass that kept growing as they tried to struggle free. Some managed to free themselves but tragically 173 people mostly women and children were crushed and asphyxiated, some 60 others required hospital treatment. The cause of the disaster has never been fully known although one theory was that people may have been startled by the sound of new, unfamiliar anti-aircraft rockets that were being fired from nearby Victoria Park. After the disaster many local people were traumatised by that night’s event and would not use the underground as a shelter anymore. The local Freemasonry Lodge kindly opened its doors to everyone in the locality during air-raids and gave out tea and sandwiches. * Down in the Underground network you could witness the full spectrum of life. Those leaving the world, those being born into the world, those rejoicing at the All-Clear and being able to return home, and those with no home left to return to. *


The people of Britain were holding up well with all the mayhem and destruction, nothing, and I mean nothing was going to stop these hardworking women from their night at the dancing. These being austere times, the women had to be inventive. Firstly, Bicarbonate of Soda was used as an underarm anti-perspirant. A burnt cork or a burnt match or even a little black boot polish was used for mascara. Stockings were in very short supply, so women would mix up a solution of gravy browning and applied it to their legs to give a bit of colour. A friend would then use an eyebrow pencil /crayon to draw a fake stocking seam. Lipstick was made to go a long way but if it had run out many women would colour their lips with beetroot juice. Household antiseptic was used by many women as a perfume because some had a strong lavender or mixed flower scent.  The women’s hairstyle was wavy with curls, some would knit or crochet a snood as was the fashion (Like Pike’s mum in the comedy Dads Army). Many wore their hair in a turban like they did at work, they were called glamour bands. Their jackets would have padded (puffed up Shoulders) as was the fashion. Despite the austerity and rationing, when these women went out to the dancing they were as fashionable and as stylish as any decade of the 20th Century.

A night at the dancing was a night to let off steam with many others in a similar situation. There would be songs by artists like Vera Lynn,” We’ll Meet Again”, “The White Cliffs of Dover”, and a song popular on many levels, “When the Lights go on again all over the World”. There was also Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw with big band music which included Glen Millers songs “Moonlight Serenade” and “In the Mood”. Very popular at the end of the evening was a song called “The Lambeth Walk” where everyone joined hands. For those returning home to an empty house it was very difficult. Those returning to pets realised the value of these animals. * During the Blitz, London was bombed every day and night, bar one day for 11 weeks with over a third of the city destroyed and 1.4 million Londoners made homeless. *


The government was keen to keep morale high amongst the population, so horse racing was kept going, it continued but was reduced to a third of pre - war levels. For the children there was, a dozen touring circus and many travelling Side-Shows. All the Zoo’s carried on as normal, with the exception of the poisonous snakes that had to be euthanised encase a bomb was to shatter their enclosure and free the snakes into the population.


As we travel around the country it was obvious the Luftwaffe were trying to complete the job that the U-Boats had started and that was to starve/disable Britain into surrender. The 4th deadliest bombing raid was destined for Clydebank. The area of Clyde-side embraced most of Britain’s ship building capability as well as engineering and oil installations on the Clyde. Not far away there were Steelworks, aircraft and armament factories in places like Motherwell, Wishaw, Rutherglen and Parkhead. The major targets were John Brown & Company Shipyard, ROF Dalmuir and the Singer Corporation factory. The Luftwaffe would fly to the East Neuk of Fife which was easy to find as it jutted out into the North Sea. From that point they would take their bearings/co-ordinates for finding Clydebank. More than 1,000 bombs were dropped in and around the area on the 13th- 14th & 15th of March 1941, a total of 400 planes were used. Of the town’s 12,000 homes only 7 were left habitable. Water, gas and electricity supplies were destroyed, and Clydebank became the only town to be totally evacuated as a result of enemy action.

 The fires blazed for over 4 weeks. There were fires at Singer’s timber yards and the Yoker Distillery. Incendiary bombs were dropped starting “marker fires” to assist the accuracy of further waves of bombing. Also hit were Dalmuir, Kilbowie and Radnor Park, (all West Dunbartonshire) Despite the total carnage most of the Shipyards and factories remained relatively workable.

 On 6th – 7th May 1941 another wave of attacks took place but this time it was centred on Greenock where many fires broke out due to the large number of incendiaries dropped. Cars were seen driving through the street with loudspeakers telling people where to go. Many were covered in in soot and dust from the fires started by the incendiary bombs. Fire fighters came from as far as Edinburgh, with sailors from ships on the Clyde also helping to fight the fires.

The city of Coventry was to have the worst of many nights on 14th Nov 1940. Coventry was a top target for many reasons. The city was involved with car manufacture, aeroplane engine manufacture and munition factories. Many pregnant women or women with young children would eventually leave the city and camp out in the fields on the outskirts of the town. Much of the city centre and the cathedral were destroyed. Taking advantage of a “Bomber’s Moon” on November the 14th 449 bombers dropped 503 tons of bombs and 880 incendiaries.

The city of Plymouth on the south coast took terrible punishment during the war. Eventually when the Air-Raid alarm went off many hundreds of people were taken in lorries to the edge of Dartmoor where they would camp until all was clear. * The first jamming operations were carried out using requisitioned hospital electrical cauterising machines, first used on German Beam Guidance Systems and Radio Beacons. *

December 29th 1940 was one of the darkest days for the people of London. Hitler had ordered a massive raid on the city, deliberately timed to coincide with the river Thames being at its lowest level. Approximately 100,000 incendiary bombs were “dropped” and the fire-fighters had to cope with temperatures in excess of 800 degrees centigrade. They also had the misfortune of having several main water lines out of action. The fire-crews had no other option but to crawl across the mud banks to get water from the river Thames.  London like many old cities had narrow, winding streets, when the Incendiaries burnt their way through the wooden beams, the structures would collapse. The burning structures would land in the roads blocking off the Emergency Services. In London and other towns and cities larger employees would have a system in place to warn of possible Air-Attack. Just above working level there were 2 lights, normally off. If the Green light came on, this was a warning of a possible air attack, the women were told to keep working but pick up their coat and bag and keep it close at hand. If the red light came on it meant an Air-Raid was imminent and it was time to make your way to your Air-Raid shelter and remain there until the All-Clear was sounded.


During the Blitz the King and Queen visited bombed areas to see the damage caused by the Air-Raids. On these visits, the Queen took a keen interest in what was being done to help the people who had lost their homes. After Buckingham Palace was bombed on 13th September 1940 she said, “she felt she could now look the East End in the face” Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret spent most of the war years at Windsor Castle. A 14- year -old Princess Elizabeth broadcast a message to evacuees on the radio programme Children’s Hour. A bit later Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) training as a driver and mechanic whilst her younger sister Princess Margaret joined the Sea Rangers. The King would always appear in his uniform.


The Chislehurst caves in north Kent were colonised each night by 15,000 Londoners. The tunnels/caves were situated 30 metres below the edge of North West Kent and were a maze of chalk tunnels which acted as a deep Air-Raid shelter and a small underground town. Sections of the tunnels were partitioned off to give families a bit of privacy. 15,000 people a night would pay a penny for access to the caves and would arrive from London by train or by coach.


Peterhead in Aberdeenshire was bombed 28 times, yet its war-time population was only 10.000 Many felt that Bombers flying over from the now-fallen Norway had mistaken Peterhead for Aberdeen. I think that may only be part of the story. Peterhead had and still has a fine breakwater that could give anchorage to many British ships also RAF Peterhead was a former Royal Air Force Station just 3.5 miles from the town. The airfield was built in 1941 and disbanded in 1945. During this period there were more than 2,000 RAF personnel based there. A number of RAF squadrons from a variety of nations used RAF Peterhead’s five accommodation camps (Polish, Norwegian and Czech) The camp was hit twice in November 1941.

 Not forgetting, just a few miles from Peterhead at Longside there was an airfield using Hawker Hurricane’s, Spitfire’s and North American P-51 Mustang aircraft that provided early protection for the Russian Shipping Convoys. Great Britain supplied Russia with much needed food and equipment throughout the war despite the journey to Murmansk being the most treacherous of  WWII.


The ARCTIC CONVOYS of WWII usually sailed from Loch Ewe in Wester-Ross to Murmansk or Askhangelsk to render assistance to Russia who became an ally of Britain after opening-up an Eastern Front against Germany. Britain would supply Russia with much needed food and equipment each month until the war ended. The crews that made up the convoys, apart from Royal Navy were mainly taken from Scottish and East English fishing communities as well as “deep sea” Merchant Seamen from Liverpool. The “Murmansk Runs” were one of the most dangerous, physically and mentally draining assignments of WWII. The first job before they left was to degauss the ships to help repel German Magnetic mines.

From Wester-Ross they had to travel beyond the Arctic Circle in atrocious seas, a constant build-up of ice and snow that had to be laboriously removed or the ship could become “top heavy” and sink. Men on deck would often have to wear 3 pairs of gloves as bare skin touching cold metal would be stripped off. Before going on-deck the crew had to clear or plug their noses, if not any mucus would freeze and cause terrible pain as it expanded in the sinuses. The deck crew also learned to open their eyes, just a slit as this reduced the pain of frozen tear ducts. When they came off shift there was no hot food, just corn-beef sandwiches and hot cocoa. They depended on Evaporated Milk and Condensed (sweetened) milk.

If all that wasn’t bad-enough they also had to contend with attacks from the German surface fleet, U-Boats and aircrafts. During the summer months in the Arctic Circle the sun never sets, which left the Convoys vulnerable to constant air attack. In many cases the Convoy could not react to a fellow ship that was torpedoed, they had to leave the stricken vessel behind for fear of them all being “sitting ducks” from further U-Boat strikes.  If a U-Boat found a Convoy they would signal other U-Boats to join in the destruction. A gathering of U-Boats was known as a “Wolfpack”.  As the Convoy sailed, she would plot a Zig-Zag course throughout the journey to help prevent the German’s from accurately charting/anticipating their position. Another hazard in bad weather was if equipment broke free of its strapping.

 The centre of the Convoy was the best protected as these ships would be caring the cargo of food and supplies. Those ships on the “flanks” of the Convoy usually old merchant ships were in the greatest danger from attack. If a ship was hit, the convoy would continue on but they would send out a distress signal for survivors to be picked up. How far the nearest ship was to pick up survivors was anyone’s guess. In peace time each ship operated with only One Radioman but in these dangerous times a ship would have 3 or 4 Radiomen to keep abreast of all that was “happening”. If a struck vessel was going down those sailors who jumped into the water had little chance of survival unless they were picked up by a ship’s lifeboat. At these temperatures the body quickly shuts down making swimming impossible.

 “The lucky ones” that made it to the lifeboats including those dehydrated with burns would quickly realize that the Lifeboat Emergency Water was frozen solid. Not all survived the lifeboats either, with many men who became wet, suffering hypothermia, or frostbite that often, required amputation or became fatal. It was standard procedure for any important documents to be sealed in a bag, weighted down and thrown over-side, least it falls into enemy hands.  Main-while as the men on the other Convoy ships began their watch duty, they would watch, wait, hope and pray. Although their stomach was churning, tonight they were the lucky ones. The total distance one-way was 1,600 miles.

 On landing in Murmansk part of the food cargo was used to feed the starving residents of Leningrad. To get supplies into the city as quickly as possible the Soviet drivers would drive, “by the back door” over frozen Lake Ladoga sometimes 3or 4 times a day under shell fire. The lake thawed out over the summer months making it impassable. One Million died during the siege of Leningrad. The only sanctuary the people had from the freezing weather was the Leningrad Public Library. The area was full of forests where they could have gotten fuel but they could not get out / access. Up to 20,000 were dying each day from Dysentery, also, all over oozing eczema and boils. When the British” turned around” and came home, the journey would be repeated the following month. We have just talked about the loss of one ship but on occasions a whole convoy could be lost. The Convoys were escorted by Destroyers, Corvettes and sometimes armed merchant ships. Total ships per convoy could be 40 – 50. * All Submarines during WWII had to come to the surface to recharge their batteries so as to vent the chlorine or Hydrogen gas. The batteries needed to be re-charged with the diesel engine, which needed air and could only ran on the surface. If seawater came in contact with the batteries it produced poisonous Chlorine Gas. * 


The city of Newcastle was targeted on July 1940 and December 1941. Newcastle had heavy industry and busy docks that sent coal to London and the south. Targets included Swan Hunter’s Shipyard, Vickers Armstrong “Naval Yard”, Steelworks and the Wallsend slipway. The town of South Shields was targeted on Sat 3rd May 1941, 107 people died sheltering in the basement beneath Wilkinson’s Lemonade Factory. South Shields was targeted again on October 1941. The Wearside shipyards produced a quarter of Britain’s merchant shipping, the city was to take some punishment with damage also inflicted on Sunderland’s Roker Park. Middlesboro never escaped attention either, in fact it was the first major British town and industrial target to be bombed on the 25th May 1940. A lone bomber dropped 13 bombs between South Bank Road and the South Steel Plant. There would be more bombing in August 1942 which would damage the Railway Station and a Stationary Train. The station was out of action for two weeks.  * In towns along the English south coast many people, especially pregnant women would make for the beach /caves when the siren went off. It was a bit safer because there was less likelihood of, flying debris and it was less claustrophobic and nerve wracking. * 


There was one worry that was never far from everyone’s mind. * Britain was an island that relied on imports of materials and food to fight a war. U-Boats were still sinking an unhealthy number of British ships and now the Luftwaffe were reducing our ability to build ships. Britain was getting perilously close to the critical point where it was losing more ships than it could replace. * In the far north of the country the early memories of Luftwaffe attacks were fading but the amount of life lost and damage to British and Allied shipping was ever growing. The Thurso, Longhope and Wick lifeboats would have a busy war. Many ships were lost off the Caithness, Orkney and North Sutherland coast. Volunteers would come forward to check the coast for possible survivors or bodies. Another job they undertook was to keep local children away from witnessing any dead bodies. In time these fallen sailors would be interred in local graveyards with their own individual headstones, stretching from North West Sutherland all the way to South East Caithness. Many were British, Norwegian, Danish, Polish and Canadian Allies. The far north was not unique in this, many coastal towns would experience a similar situation. *

 According to Winston Churchills famous war-time speech, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the street, we shall fight in the hills: we shall never surrender”!

A rare piece of good news was to come Britain’s way, although it did come through the misfortune of Norway. *Norway was overrun by Germany on the 10th June 1940* however Norway was a large physical country but with a small population (3million) it took some time before envious eyes were turned towards Norway’s Merchant Fleet. It was the 4th largest in the world and contained some of the most modern ships. Norway had a “puppet leader” called Vidkum Quisling who under German command ordered all of Norway’s merchant fleet to sail to Germany, Italy or neutral ports to be requisitioned for the Kriegsmarine.  His request was ignored, and all ships sailed to Great Britain to serve at the disposal of their British allies.  Some ships were converted into Mine-Sweepers while others performed a host of coastal services around Great Britain.  Norwegian tankers carried a third of all oil transported into Britain during the war.


 * As the war continued there would be further rationing to foods such as Tea, Jam, Biscuits, Breakfast cereals and Sweets.  There would also be rationing of coal and soap products such as soap, soap flakes, liquid soap and powdered soap. Petrol and man-power shortages meant that shops could no longer deliver goods to customer’s homes from 1941. It was a time of MAKE DO and MEND. * 


As the war dragged on so did the bombing, next on the horizon was Belfast which was poorly defended by an insufficient number of Air-Raid defence guns and the lowest proportion of Air-Raid shelters. This was not the intension of the War Office but at the beginning of the war many felt Belfast was too far west to be targeted by German Bombers but after the surrender of France the Germans could now fly from Cherbourg in northern France putting Belfast well within their reach. On May 1941 there was 4 German Air-Raids in April and May, 200 bombers managed to render half the city’s housing stock uninhabitable. Belfast produced many naval ships, aircraft and munitions and was the home to the Harland and Wolff Shipyards. Despite the damage to the city, Harland and Wolff shipyards managed to continue to build ships as well as many ship repairs, Tanks, Aircraft Parts and Gun-Mountings. The linen industry also contributed to the production of Parachutes during WWII. Northern Ireland was also used as one of the main bases for the preparation of the Normandy landings in June 1944.  * In all bombed out UK towns and cities, the bombed buildings were quickly cleared of rubble, they were then cultivated to grow vegetables to ease war-time food shortages. They were known as VICTORY GARDENS. * 


The expression BUSINESS AS USUAL was widely used in Great Britain during the Second World War, especially during the London Blitz and the Blitz on other British cities. Shops and businesses continued to open in spite of bomb damage. BUSINESS AS USUAL and LONDON CAN TAKE IT were commonly scrawled defiantly on the walls of damaged buildings. It was common for bombed out Vet practices to conduct their business on the street pavement as it was for many other businesses. The animal inspection table was cleaned up, chairs were brought outside, and “normal” service was resumed.


Swansea in the south of Wales endured a 3-night Blitz on 19-21 February 1941. The main targets were the Port, Dock and the Oil Refinery. The bombers wanted to cripple coal exports from the town. Swansea, was left with a terrible rat infestation, as was Coventry. The deep bombing had unsettled their nests. It was not uncommon at that time for rats to climb out the toilet bowl, the local councils payed rat-catchers to alleviate the problem. They would keep all the severed rat tails bound up with string and would be paid according to the number of rat tails. The deaths, injuries and destruction were steadily growing across the country.


It has been widely speculated that Fitzroy McLean was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. He began as a diplomat at the beginning of the war, later he enlisted as a Private in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. In North Africa in 1942 he distinguished himself in the early days of the Special Air Service or S.A.S under the command of fellow Scottish aristocrat   David Stirling. Mclean would also be given the responsibility of keeping Churchill’s son safe and it was Churchill that personally wanted McLean to parachute into Yugoslavia to assist Tito and his Partisans. The list goes on …….


Movies from 1941/1942 included Citizen Cane, Dumbo and How Green was my Valley. From 1942 we had Casablanca, Bambi, Holiday Inn and Mrs Miniver which starred Greer Garson as a British woman struggling to survive the first months of WWII. This movie did a lot to sway American public opinion towards the British war effort. If you were sat down enjoying a movie there would come a break or intermission in the film. At this point a newsreel called the PATHE NEWS would be played, giving an insight on how the war was going at home and abroad. The content was heavily controlled by the Ministry of Information. One word you never wanted to see “flashed up” on the cinema screen was the word CROMWELL that was the secret word for Britain has been invaded. * Cinema attendances grew from 20 million pre - war to 32 million at the wars peak *


So, what were things like now like for all the pets? The Cats Protection League (Cats Protection) agreed to convey bombed out cats to “temporary or duration of war homes”. According to their magazine The Cat, during WWII they appealed to all vegetarians among their readers to donate their meat ration to their local Cat’s Shelter. Other initiatives included Cat Flaps to encourage cats indoors during the Air-Raids as well as elasticated collars, the forerunner of the quick release collar. The Cat magazine also revived an old recipe for cats called a “Good Solid Pudding” made from table scraps mashed up with Marmite liquid then baked for an hour in the oven. The Cats Protection League also introduced the Tail-wavers Scheme. This scheme was launched to aid homeless and evacuee cats with half the money raised going to help the cats. The other half of the money raised was to buy a presentation Spitfire for the RAF* 10% of RAF pilots were originally from Poland. There were over 400,000 Jews imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, an area no bigger than 1 square mile or an average of 9 persons per room *


 The Canine Defence League, (Dogs Trust) was actively involved in its Dog-knit-for-Britain campaign and produced many warming garments from combings of long-haired dogs. The garments were given to Seamen and Scottish crofters. The Scottish SPCA and RSPCA gave good advice on how to make an improvised dog shelter in the home with instructions on how to train the dogs to go there on command, this was despite the loss of RSPCA Animal Clinics in Southwark, Bristol and Manchester being completely destroyed and the London Clinic badly damaged. As with the PDSA surgeries it would be business as usual. In December 1940 Our Dumbs Friends League, the hospital in Victoria held a Christmas Party for bombed-out dogs. The PDSA in Cairo, North Africa had its hands full trying to care for dogs that had been left in the crossfire as the Italians retreated from the British. The Cats Protection League volunteers worked tirelessly to educate the public in bomb targeted cities to keep their cats indoors at night-time. Extra RSPCA inspectors had to be drafted in to deal with oiled sea birds caused by sunken Ships and U-Boats. In 1940 the RSPCA rescued 5,940 animals that were successfully re-homed

  In Lancaster a Mr Bernard of the Lido Cinema in Bolton organised 100 homes for evacuated animals. They were all housed in the cinema until homes could be found. (I wonder if they were “drumming” their paws on the back of the seats for “Lassie come Home”) Brilliant gesture!! On a more serious note, Bolton was not to escape the effects of the Blitz. On 12-13th of October 1941there was an Air-Raid on Punch Street, Ardwick Street and other parts. Bombing victims were fed in an emergency canteen in Flash Street, many took shelter in nearby churches. Food was also supplied by the Bolton Corporation Emergency Food Van. Hylda Baker was an actress and comedian born in Farnworth, Bolton. She became a Music Hall star during WWII. Best remembered for her Olivia Newton John Impersonation!


 At the beginning of the Blitz many pet owners would buy from the vets, Fit & Hysteria Powders or Bromide, one or the other was given to the pet as soon as the Air-Raid alarm sounded so it had time to work its way into their “system” before the bombs started falling. As it turned out 80% of the pets weren’t bothered that much as-long-as their owners were relatively calm, even without the powders. In truth the pets often calmed down their owners or at least gave them a reason to stay calm!


Another great trait of many cats was that they could tell in advance of a bombing raid happening. They could also tell if the bombers were German, British or American. The engines of British and American planes flew with a constant drone however the German bomber had an “in and out” even bumpy sound. Unlike the modern British and American planes that had its engines checked for synchronism, the German bombers were made in the 1930’s and the engine synch was unlikely to be checked. It is believed that the small difference and sound was due to the one engine being slightly out of synch with the other. The sound was like roooAAAAooooAAAooorrr. The family cats being clever little souls, were “on the ball” so when they headed home or to the shelter everyone followed if they had any sense! They saved many lives during the Blitz despite being written off at the start of the war! * The humble spider also played its part during both world wars. The use of spider silk was so fine it was used for gun sites during WWI. As technology advanced by WWII the spider silk was also used in Bomb sights, Scientific/ Surveillance Instruments and Telescopes. *


Meanwhile dogs were making positive headlines in search and rescue. Beauty was a wire-haired terrier belonging to the PDSA Superintendent Bill Barnet who led one of the charities Animal Rescue Squads that operated during the heavy bombing raids on London. Beauty saved the lives of 63 animals from being buried alive, her first being a cat stuck under a table! She became a Dickin Medal winner in 1945. Another dog, Rip was found homeless and starving after a German Air Raid on Poplar, East London. Rip the mongrel was awarded the Dickin Medal for locating over 100 people buried during the Blitz. All future Search & Rescue operations the world over were based on the methods used by PDSA Mr E. King and his humble dog Rip. The dogs had to deal with, smouldering debris, intense heat and water jets from fire hoses.

Mr King and Rip would wander at night around the shelters of the badly hit Poplar district of London. Rip was as “proud as punch!” with his Dickin Medal around his neck meeting everyone and raising spirits. Despite the Rationing there were always a few wee treats for this special dog. As for Our Dumb Friends League, they were to report in 1943 that the Charlton kennels in London was now an International Institution with animal guests from America, Canada, Norway, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and others. They were being held in Quarantine as part of the British war against rabies.  

Usually after a bomb attack and the All-Clear, first on site were the emergency services, a little later the search and rescue/dog teams were allowed on the scene. One important check that had to be done was to check cats in the area for injury. This would arise when cats were injured or buried had managed to free themselves on their own and groomed themselves so well, that not a speck of dirt was left on them. This fooled the animal charities for a while into thinking these cats avoided the blast, yet many of these “clean” cats were badly injured.

 There was a make-shift procedure for the treatment of cats during WWII. First Aid included ointment for gas burns made up from 2 parts bleach powder and one- part Vaseline. Minor burns or scalds were treated with cold strong tea, tannic acid or a solution of bicarbonate soda and water. A cat’s earwax could be cleaned out using a home-made cotton bud diluted with methylated spirits. Turpentine vapour was used to treat bronchitis, and finally, a rare treat/pick-me-up was a raw beaten egg which also acted as a coat conditioner. * Another victim of the Blitz was the humble bee that failed to adapt to the noise and vibration so, the majority were evacuated from towns and cities*


Larger reinforced Civic Centres/ Shelters were erected in many British towns. As the bombs fell many could not sleep for the noise in their homes and many had work in the morning. People grabbed their bedding and got some sleep down at the Civic Centre. Many believe it was in these shelters that the “Blitz Spirit” was first nurtured.  

The Blitz rolled on: Southampton which was the birthplace of the Spitfire was attacked 57 times with 2,300 bombs dropped. This took place on 23rd & 30th November & 1st December 1940. Much of the Town centre was destroyed with damage also to the Ordnance Survey Offices. They were after the Spitfire Repair Depot which was part of the Super-Marine Complex around Southampton.

Great un-sung heroes of the war were the carrier pigeons, they were the nations eyes and ears in wartime. The National Pigeon Service was a voluntary civilian organisation formed in Britain in 1938. During the 1939 – 1945 war this group alone gave over 200,000 of its best young pigeons to be used by the RAF, Army and Intelligence services. Carrier Pigeons were frequently parachuted, in secure containers to Resistance fighters in France, Holland, Belgium and Denmark. Some of the more outstanding results from messages returned were, the location of the V1 Rocket site at Peenemunde, Germany, U-Boat bases, the saving of thousands of US and German lives towards the end of the battle of the Bulge. They were also responsible for the first word back from Normandy on D-Day which earned 4 Carrier Pigeons the Dickin Medal for operating in the heat of battle (Paddy was fastest). There were many other untold messages of vital intelligence including downed aircraft and ships.

During WWII aircrew kept their carrier pigeons in special water-tight baskets and containers in case the aircraft had to ditch into the sea. Some British and German carrier pigeons worked as “Double Agents”. At a time when Britain was desperate to break the German Enigma communication codes, some British pigeons were fitted with German leg tags in the hope of receiving coded messages back. Any messages would be passed on to Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire. The normal leg cannisters that were fixed to the pigeons were colour coded to represent different war-time units, British Army, US Forces, Royal Air Force, British Special Service, Navy and the Civil Police Force. When the carrier pigeons arrived home after a mission, on landing, wires in the coop would trigger a bell or buzzer. This would alert a soldier from the signal corps and he would then pass the information on quickly to those in charge.

When pigeons returned to Britain from abroad, the various countries would have its code word in the messages margin. eg:  for security the Dutch Resistance would write in the notes margin “OZO”, which was the Dutch code for (Holland will raise again). * Famous actress Audrey Hepburn was a member of the Dutch Resistance during WWII. Her British father and Dutch mother decided to return to Holland in the false belief that after the First World War, Holland would remain neutral. Audrey danced in secret productions to raise money for the Resistance and occasionally ran messages. It could have been fatal if she had been caught* In the lead up to D-Day WWII all use of Military radio was banned for fear of the date and time of D-Day being “leaked”. Carrier pigeons were the only source of communication during that period.

Carrier Pigeons were preferred over Radio Transmissions because Radio signals were often weak, and prone to being Intercepted, also the life expectancy of a Radio Operator spying in occupied France was only 6 weeks.

During both World Wars pigeon owners who loaned their carrier pigeons to the war effort had to swear never to divulge the whereabouts of the pigeons/lofts or check the message in the leg cannisters.

Beach House Park was opened by Worthing Borough Council, West Sussex in 1924. Within the park is a War Memorial commemorating War Pigeons. The Pigeon War Memorial was sculpted in 1949 and unveiled 2 years later.



Aberdeen was now a greater target as a large eastern seaboard port now that the Luftwaffe could fly from occupied Norway. Worse night for Aberdeen was on 21st April 1943 when 50 bombers destroyed 10,000 homes. They flew in from Stavanger, Norway, the Air-Raid was known as the Mittwoch Blitz, (The Mid-week or Wednesday Blitz). Aberdeen was to be hit on 32 occasions. The actor James Doohan better known as Star Trek’s “Scotty” said that he based the character’s accent on an Aberdonian he met whilst training in Catterick, Yorkshire. James was with the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII.

  In the Midlands there was going to be little chance of avoiding the Blitz, with its long tradition of manufacturing and engineering. The Birmingham Blitz would begin on 9th August 1940 – 23rd April 1943 when 1,852 tons of bombs were dropped, including 48 Parachute Mines with Birmingham became the 3rd heaviest bombed city. A PARACHUTE MINE was a Naval mine dropped from an aircraft by parachute by the Luftwaffe and also initially used by the RAF. It would detonate and explode at roof level rather than on the ground. This meant that the shockwave was not absorbed by ground buildings, but the shockwave could radiate out much further, across the city causing far greater destruction. Birmingham and the outer area would lose12,391 homes, 302 factories and 239 general buildings. Like Liverpool the name “Birmingham” was never mentioned on the Radio, they would just say “a bomb-raid on a Midlands Town” That was done so no information was fed back to Germany nor bad news fed into other parts of Britain. Bombsite rubble from the Birmingham Blitz was used to make additional runways on US Air Force bases in Kent and Essex.


 By the middle of the war Hitler was planning to smuggle 132 – 300 million of counterfeit notes into Britain which would-of ruined the economy. British spies “got wind” of the plan and intercepted the shipment of notes. * In 1943 at the height of WWII, British bank notes of 10 Pounds denomination or above, were withdrawn over fears Nazi counterfeits could destroy the economy. *


The city of Liverpool was one of the biggest ports in the world with most of Britain’s Imports and Exports coming through the city. Liverpool was the heaviest pounded city in the UK after London. The Luftwaffe targeted the city relentlessly, the city centre was all but wiped out with much damage around the docks and Birkenhead. Radio announcers were told not to mention strikes on Liverpool by name, but just to say a “northern town”. This was to deprive Germany of a morale boost, and-also to avoid lowering morale in Britain. Before the main Blitz on Liverpool the local cats were seen, slowly leaving the city. Sheffield was bombed from 12th – 15th December1940, an industrial area famous for steel manufacture. There were 40,000 left homeless with damage to the industrial centre and the destruction of a stand at Sheffield Utd football ground, Bramall Lane. Leeds had to endure 9 raids on 14th / 15th March 1941 hitting the city centre and other areas. Rotherham was hit with 140 bombs as the Luftwaffe targeted the Rotherham steelworks.

One of the most damaging strikes of the Blitz was that on Hull which left 95% of all houses damaged. The bombers attacked on the 9th & 15th May there was a direct hit on the local Flourmill, which spread to the horse’s stables. Despite the mayhem the men mercifully had the presence of mind to “bag” the head of the horses. Once the horses could no longer see the fire, they settled down. The men were then able to slowly remove them away from the danger of the fire. It was believed, time delay bombs were also deployed on these nights. Delayed action bombs were a big hazard for a time especially for homeowners who wouldn’t wait until it was safe to return to the bombed- out site/home.

 The delayed action bomb had 2 settings 2 – 72 hours and 3 – 135 minutes. These Delayed action devices were fitted with increasingly sophisticated anti-tampering devices. They had 3 mercury switches to detonate the bomb if the fuse was disturbed or rotated. They had a spring-loaded detonation and were a nightmare to handle or defuse for the Bomb Disposal Teams. It was a blessing that quite a proportion of the bombs failed to go off. They may have suffered damage to the fuse used to detonate the bomb or the clockwork time mechanism may have seized in the searing heat of the Blitz. A piece of really- good news was that the feared gas-attack had not materialised.

The bombing continued with the Xmas Blitz on Manchester from 22nd – 24th December 1940. The local animal lovers were out in force feeding the homeless pets. Both the main railway stations were hit, with mains water also effected and electricity having to be timed out/ rationed. There was at least one main road out of action. What added to Manchester’s woes was the fact that many of its firefighters were still fighting fires in neighbouring Liverpool. The Grandstand at Old Trafford was destroyed so they ended up playing their matches at the Manchester City Ground, Maine Road! Dundee had the ironic misfortune to be bombed on 5th November. Fife and Angus would also be targeted with Montrose experiencing over 10-15 Air-Raids, the worst being on October 28th 1940 Fraserburgh also received bombings and the city of Edinburgh/Leith was hit several times.

 Portsmouth would suffer many attacks, the first on 10th and 11th January 1941 when 153 bombers targeted the city. The houses destroyed totalled 63,000 the tide was also low which prevented the firefighters from pumping water from the sea. The power station was hit, and the main shopping centres were decimated. Portsmouth’s Royal hospital and the Royal Sailors Rest were also destroyed. Over the course 25,000 incendiaries were dropped on Portsmouth.

 The south coast town of Hastings was to suffer 85 visits from the Luftwaffe from 26th June 1940 until close to the wars end. A total of 16 “Doodlebugs” or V1 rockets fell on the town. Hastings unlike Dover had few Anti-Aircraft guns and were also the victim of aerial machine gun attacks also. The German Luftwaffe also targeted Ipswich docks and the surrounding area.


On the 22nd June 1941 the Luftwaffe began attacking the Soviet Union, code named Operation BARBAROSA. This was good news for the British as many Luftwaffe Bombers were being re-deployed to the east. Germany had now opened the war up on two fronts. Although the main Blitz had quietened down, their now appeared a new hazard. The BAEDEKER RAIDS which was based on a 1937 German Tourist Guide that gave British cities of historical significance a star rating. Any towns with 3 stars were considered a target, the list included; Exeter, Bath, Lincoln, York, Canterbury and Norwich. They all were struck by the Luftwaffe but were not damaged to any major degree. The German’s had hoped that destruction of these national treasures would weaken British morale.

 Exeter was targeted over a period, causing damage to a number of pigeon lofts which killed many active carrier pigeons. Mary of Exeter survived, she was a carrier pigeon who served with the National Pigeon Service from 1940 – 1945 carrying Top Secret Messages from France back to Britain. This very brave pigeon was wounded on several occasions, she once required a total of 22 stiches, on another occasion she was attacked by German owned Hawks stationed at Pas-de -Calais. She returned with wounds to her neck and right breast. Two months later she had part of one wing shot off and had to have 3 pellets removed from her body. During her final trip her neck muscles were damaged by shrapnel preventing her from holding her head up, fortunately her owner was a shoemaker and made her a leather support collar. Mary was awarded the Dickin Medal on November 1945 for “showing endurance on war service despite injury” Brave Mary went on to live until 1950, she died peacefully in her Exeter loft and is buried in the Ilford Animal Cemetery. The Luftwaffe had now targeted York, for two hours the bombs rained down on the city of York. There was damage to the railway system, houses and schools however the York Minster escaped damage.

 Norwich had to endure 2 nights of intense bombing at the end of April 1942. Up until now the Luftwaffe seemed to by-pass Norwich, with some residents choosing to ignore air-raid warnings and not bothering to seek shelter. The Norman Castle and The Cathedral escaped damage however many shops, factories and homes were destroyed.

Brighton was attacked from the air on 56 occasions between July 2nd1940 and February 1944. An evacuation of 30,000 took place. Brighton was also hit with a V-1 Flying bomb in 1944. Both the Palace Pier and West Pier had sections of its decking removed to prevent its use as landing stages by the Luftwaffe. The Bristol Blitz occurred between 24th November an 11th April 1941. There were 6 major bombing raids damaging 89,000 buildings. Bristol came in for heavy punishment due to the harbour and the Bristol Aeroplane Company. Archibald Leach was born in Bristol and became a Hollywood Star. He was recruited as a spy by the British Secret Service to check on anti-British activities whilst in Hollywood. He is better known by his stage name Cary Grant.



 One date that had a significant effect on the war was July 9th1941, that was the vital day that the British Code Breakers managed to crack the*** GERMAN ENIGMA CODE***. Churchill was to say that this breakthrough was the most important achievement of the war and it was believed to have shortened the war by at least a year. It was not one thing but several pieces of a jigsaw that brought about the cracking of the Enigma Code. 1.The Enigma machine was built in Germany and Poland in the 1930’s.  When Germany invaded Poland, the Poles became Allies to Britain and the Polish Cipher Bureau passed on useful information to the British. 2. From mid-1940 the Bletchley Code Breakers started picking up German Air Force signals. 3.The Bletchley staff were constantly receiving “intelligence” via the carrier pigeon network. 4.HMS Bull sailors took a daring risk and swam out to a scuttled U-Boat U-110 and retrieved an enigma machine before the U-Boat sank. 5. The most important part of the jigsaw was the sheer brilliance of Alan Turing and the Bletchley staff who worked tirelessly to give Britain a much needed “edge”. The Enigma machine was constructed with Rotors and old-style Typewriter Keys in factories in Germany and Poland during the 1930’s.


 Late in 1941 prescription free medicines for women with children and expectant mothers were issued, cod liver oil and vitamin C. * Not long after the bombing of Pearl Harbour the USA joined the war in December 1941. *  


Well, along came 1942 with the first American Troops arriving in Europe, landing in Northern Ireland. A lot of Germany’s energies were now placed in seizing the Russian oilfields in the Caucasus. In 1942 Churchill was to leave for America to meet Roosevelt. During 1942, until the wars end Hitler received daily injections of Pervitin (Methanphetamine) for depression and fatigue.


 In France and Belgium during 1942 all Jewish citizens had to wear a Star of David yellow badge. Soon afterwards, the deportation of Jews would begin from Germany and occupied Europe to Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and other death camps. Great Britain was now carrying out heavy bombing raids on Hamburg and Berlin. From 23rd October – 11th November 1942 the Battle of El Alamein was fought between Rommel’s Afrika Corp and the British with Commonwealth troops. The British gave everything and emerged victorious. The importance of this battle cannot be over-estimated 1) Britain so badly needed a morale boosting victory. 2) If they had lost, they would have no foothold/base left in Africa. 3) If Germany won the battle, they would have taken Egypt including all the British supplies, and, would off had access to many other countries. 4) The war would have probably dragged on for at least another painful year* The most popular entertainment in Egypt was the Cinema, not because the movies were riveting but it happened to be one of only a few air-conditioned buildings in the city. When the British won the battle of El Alamein the church bells rang out back home for the first time since the war began as a celebration. The ringing of church bells was usually reserved to indicate that Britain had been invaded.

To quote Winston Churchill: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

 On a lighter note, my dad served with the RAF in Egypt during WWII and trained as an Aircraft Mechanic. The man in charge of training was an Irishman whose name I forget, however he was known as a hard taskmaster and a bit of a perfectionist. When all the men finished their training, they were all assembled before their trainer. The men were all hoping for some praise or encouragement, however the trainer stood up (with his neck veins throbbing) and roared, I’VE TAUGHT YOU EVERYTHING I KNOW AND YOU STILL KNOW * * * * ALL!!

 Lifeboat Rescue was very important along Egypt’s Med coast with aircraft busily leaving and returning to RAF Alexandra. The Lifeboat carried a Coxswain, Mechanic and usually 4 crew. If a plane ditched in the sea the Lifeboats would try to pick up any “downed personnel” before any German surface ships arrived on the scene. The “downed” pilots were of uttermost importance to the British because they had lost such a lot of good pilots during the heroic Battle of Britain. If they had the time, they would also pick up any parachutes as they were made from silk, unfortunately the far-east silk route had “dried up” due to the hazardous far-east shipping lanes.

 Another assignment undertaken by the Lifeboat crews was the picking up of British spies from German Occupied Greece, Turkey or any of the islands. They would usually take off at night, under a cover of darkness, the lifeboat would often be disguised to look like a Felucca, a traditional Egyptian sailing boat. When they arrived at their rendezvous sometimes there was a person to pick up, but sadly on many occasions there was just a deafening silence. The time-window of the search boat was very short. If no one turned up, after a short time they had to head back. If the spy didn’t appear, he may have divulged all his intelligence which could have put the rescue crew in jeopardy. During WWII the Sphinx and other ancient artefacts were sand bagged to protect against aerial bombing.  *Although Eire was neutral during WWII there were 5,000 men who joined the ranks of the British Army, in the Allies fight against Fascism*



On June 1st , 1942 bombs rained down on Canterbury, 800 buildings were destroyed with a further 1,000 damaged. Canterbury cathedral survived with only the loss of its library. On the weekend of 25th – 27th 1942 Bath suffered 3 raids from 80 Luftwaffe aircraft. Buildings affected were 19,000 of which 1.100 were seriously damaged including 218 of architectural or historic interest. * Among the firefighters assigned to the scene in Bath those nights was much loved Harry Patch who in the early 2,000’s became one of the last surviving British army veteran from the First World War.* In November 1942 alone, 860,000 tons of shipping was lost through U-Boat activity, amounting to almost 10% of Britain’s annual food shipments.


Christmas 1942 was a much leaner year now that domestic soap and toilet soap had been added to the list of rationed goods. Alcohol was difficult to get, unless you were a regular at a Pub or Off-Licence. To have a good Christmas your Points and Coupons had to be saved many months before hand. The newspapers, nationally “got together” to donated money for all the evacuated children to have a good party in their adopted home areas. Some people managed to find a Christmas Tree, but they could not be lit-up in windows because of the Black-Out. Whilst once, items were difficult to get, now they were disappearing altogether! Recipes for 1942 include Hungarian Potatoes, Cauliflower Stew, Tomato Jelly, Baked Eggs and Baked Celery.


January 1943 saw 50 bombers mount the first all American Air-Raid against the large German Naval Base of Wilhelmshaven. Also, in 1943 from 16th – 17th May came an ambitious plan to flood the Ruhr Valley by destroying the Mohne and Eder Hydro Electric dams using bouncing bombs designed by engineer Barnes Wallis. The bombs were launched from an aeroplane, then skimmed along the surface of the water. When it hit the dam wall it would sink and then explode at a certain depth. The assignment fell to RAF No 617 (The Dam-busters). It was not a total success and many good men were lost but it gave a great boost back home. Since September 1939 the British public had to sit and “take it”, at least now the British were on the offensive in the German heartlands, although many people just wanted to see the whole war over.

Grimsby, being a port was a major target for the Luftwaffe and was bombed heavily. So much so that many children were evacuated some even sent abroad. In 1943 Grimsby was the first town to have anti-personnel bombs dropped on it.  * The Bombs dropped on Grimsby were called anti-personnel weapons. The German SD2 BUTTERFLY BOMB was used on a large-scale during WWII. It was designed as a fragmentation weapon. They were delivered by air, being dropped in containers that opened at a pre-determined height thus scattering the bombs* On the 23rd May 1943 horror and destruction arrived in Bournemouth. In little over one-minute Bournemouth had fallen victim to one of the bloodiest Raids of WWII.


In 1943 following an order to deport all of Denmark’s Jewish population to concentration camps, nearly all of Denmark’s 8,000 Jews were brought to safety in neutral Sweden. Sweden also became a refuge for Norwegian Jews who fled from German occupied Norway.


It was during 1943 that the Dickin Medal was first instituted in the UK by Maria Dickin. Its main aim was to honour the work of animals in WWII, but it was also done to boost the profile of animals. There was still many who would have been happy to see all stray cats and dogs destroyed. It was an astute move by the PDSA and Maria Dickin.

 Ilford Animal Cemetery in Ilford, London contains 3,000 burials. The first Dickin Medal recipient to be buried at Ilford was Rip a WWII search and rescue dog. The burials are a mix of family pets and military animals, including 13 recipients of the Dickin Medal for bravery. The cemetery is behind the PDSA on Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge, Ilford, Essex. The cemetery was founded in the 1920’s and is operated by the PDSA, People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.


The German city of Leipzig was repeatedly bombed by British and American Air-Raids. Leipzig was an important railroad intersection in Germany at that time. Large parts of the city centre were also destroyed. Air-Raids took place on 27th March 1943 and 20th February 1944.


The National Canine Defence League (NCDL) was founded in 1891 during the very first Crufts Dog Show. The organisation became known in more recent times as the Dogs Trust. It was Herbert Lloyd the Crufts “grandmaster” who began Britain’s War Dog Training in April 1940. In dog (mine training) a scrap of meat was concealed under the mine. Gradually the meat lure was diminished, and the dog rewarded for pointing out the now meatless mine by being given a scrap from its handler.


Germany’s assault on Russia was now on the back foot and by August 1943, they had been beaten by the freezing winter weather. With the extreme cold their trucks couldn’t operate, the diesel fuel became thick and waxy, clogging up the fuel filters. They were all now on foot. After the Russian’s re-took Stalingrad there was 110,000 German prisoners taken, with only 6,000 ever to return to Germany. Hitler had refused to send additional clothing for the men which left them exposed. The German uniform overcoat had lead buttons / fasteners but in the extreme cold the buttons shattered leaving the coat poorly tied and even more exposed to the elements. Typhus was rife among the men this disease was spread by lice. No one could escape the lice some men shaved their head and body-hair but the lice remained in their clothing. Even after their clothes was washed, the eggs of the lice that lay in the seams would survive, hatch and re-infect the soldiers. To attempt to eliminate the lice problem the Germans adopted an old Russian cure. Once they found shelter the Germans would strip of all their clothes and under-garments and bury them in the earth, leaving just 1 corner of each garment above the ground. The lice would all start moving towards the corner where they could then be burned off.

In the coldest part of the Russian Winter the German’s on foot would melt a little snow to allow themselves to wash and clean up. On many cases no fuel would arrive leaving facial hair prone to lice. At night the temperature dropped way below zero with some of the men shaking with cold. They used to conserve body heat by sleeping alongside each other inside a thick tarpaulin. After some time, the last man stopped shivering and the air inside the tarpaulin was warm. For a brief, blissful period the men got some much-needed sleep. Sadly, as the air beneath the tarpaulin warmed up it was only a matter of time before the body lice came alive!

The German makeshift- hospital at Stalingrad was a testimony to improvisation.  The siege of Stalingrad lasted from 23rd August 1942 – 2nd February 1943. The field hospitals on both sides had to make do and mend. The Germans made a device for testing blood pressure made from scrap metal. They also produced their own inoculation against Typhus which consisted of injecting an extract of lice guts! Any article of silk was unpicked to provide surgical thread and scalpels were made from sharpened tin can lids sadly the shortage of bandages was desperate, especially for those suffering severe frostbite as there were no bandages to cover the wounds. Doctors had no Plaster of Paris either so they would boil up old bones to make a glue. The broken limb was wrapped in paper then other layers of glued paper was added “Paper Mache” when it set it made a makeshift cast. The lice on men was so bad they had to be scraped off uniforms and skin and thrown in the fire. As conditions in the city worsened, running water ran out, as there was no fuel to thaw out the sub-zero snow, and as the end arrived, the lights were to fail. Stalingrad was a hellish battle, more in keeping with the Western Front than WWII. The main similarity that Stalingrad had with WWI was that there was many, casualties to gain a small advance in territory.



 The USAAF attacked and destroyed the vital Romanian oilfields around Ploiesti. With the Russians back in control of their own oil, Germany with no oil reserves was in trouble. It was now Germany that would need to spend more time on Air-Raid precautions. Germany had developed its own black-out paint in the colours of the rainbow to highlight kerbstones and pillars at railway stations. Air-raid shelters in Germany were called Hochbunkers or “high Bunkers” they were built with reinforced concrete more than 6 stories high. They were slender buildings with anti-aircraft artillery on the roof. The Hochbunker had a nurse and a sterile room to treat injuries or to attend to any pregnant women affected by the stress, noise and vibration. German women during an Air-Raid would make for the bunker in their best clothes and jewellery, this was in case their possessions were lost or burned in the bombing raids.


 In Great Britain the welfare of animals is looked after by many different groups whilst in 1933 the Deutschertierschutzbund pulled all the other Animal Welfare groups under one umbrella authority and was the main Animal Welfare for Germany. In fairness they had many far- reaching powers for animals and many say that modern German and British Animal Welfare’s is a watered-down version of the 1933 Deutschertierschutzbund. When the Nazi Party came to power in 1933 there was a total ban on Vivisection, hunting of animals and the trapping of animals. They were strong supporters of Animal Rights and Conservation. German cities had special departments during the war that would take care of military draft animals or pets. Sadly, as the war grinded on it would be harder to maintain those high ideals and standards. Meanwhile back in Britain, all the bombed-out dogs had been heading for the country, with the farmers understandably “up in arms” the NCDL or National Canine Defence League (The Dogs Trust) were doing their level best to restore order.

In Britain we had the benefit of many cats as (early warning devices) however Germany was not to be undone with their very own Air-Raid heroine “Freda the Duck”. A metal statue was built in Germany to honour war hero Freda the duck. She was honoured for being more effective than any alarm system in knowing when Allied bombing raids were on their way. With her exceptional hearing, Freda would start quacking and frantically running around. Before long the local people caught on to Freda’s warning, she was credited with saving many hundreds of lives


May 1943 was to be known as Black May for the German U-Boats. For the first time in the war they were more U-Boats being lost than Allied shipping sunk. Their stranglehold on shipping was now slackening off. Of all the Allied sea and air weapons, it would be the*** improved Radar technology, thanks to Robert Watson-Watt and his Research Team*** that was to make the biggest difference in the battle against the U-Boats from 1943 – 45. Radar was a technology that allowed you to detect a distant object, then sends out pulses of radio waves which are reflected off the object. When the radio waves return to the source they give the object’s direction, distance and speed. This gave the British a big advantage in locating enemy air, sea and sub-sea activity.

When the U-Boats put to sea they would stock up on as much fruit and veg as they could. The U-BOATS had 2 toilets so with the limited space, all the fruit and veg (fresh food) was stored in toilet No 2. With a crew of 50 men using just the 1 toilet the smell and appearance was “rank”, so many of the officers and the captain took codeine pills to “limit” their trips to the toilet! With only one small fridge the fresh food would soon go stale, with the bread sprouting some strange form of mushrooms. At this point the crew would switch to a soy-based food called Bratlingspulver which was issued by the German military. The crews called this “diesel food” due to the constant exposure to diesel fumes while they were eating. * U-Boat, reinforced “pens” were situated in Saint-Nazaire in France. *

 Fresh water was rationed for drinking only. The U-Boats would often have only one tank of water as the other tank could be filled up with diesel to extend their operational range. A patrol could last anything between 3 weeks – 6 months. The crews were not able to bathe, shave or change their clothes although the men were occasionally able to have a salt-water sponge bath. They could have a single change only of socks and underwear. Afterwards they would apply a cologne called Kolibri to control body odour. The Captain’s quarters were placed next to the Control Room and Radio Room so he could respond quickly to any emergency. * People who suffer from Aphakia have no lenses in their eyes, either due to a congenital defect or surgical removal. They can however see ultraviolet UV which is naturally blocked on healthy eyes to prevent the risk of snow-blindness from exposure to high levels of UV. During WWII Aphakic sufferers were recruited by the British military to monitor the UK coastline for German U-Boats signalling to spies/agents on the shore using UV lamps. *


 Beginning in Dec 1943 were the Bevan Boys, the name given to coalminers who were needed to replace the miners that were away at war. They took their name from politician Ernest Bevan who was Minister for Labour during the wartime coalition government. By 1943 the coal mines had lost 36,000 men to war service, and U-Boats were still making imported coal difficult, so 48,000 Bevan Boys were recruited.



Christmas 1943 would see shortages at their peak, there was no meat for Christmas Dinner except for a little mutton. Presents were “make do and mend”, knitted slippers and gloves also brooches, which were made from cutting up old silver cutlery. Rag-Bag-Toys was a popular book available with instructions for making toys such as a doll from old stockings. Children would make paper chain decorations, by painting old newspapers different colours, cut into short strips and glued together. For “afters” there may have been Chocolate Cake made without eggs or Mock Apricot Tart made from carrots! The families would pray for their loved ones overseas, and also “The Forgotten” 14th Army, fighting the Japanese in the mountainous Burmese Jungle and all the men who had become Prisoners of War in the far east.


The “Forgotten 14th Army” were part of a British campaign to push the Japanese Army out of Burma during WWII.  The 14th Army were made up from British, Australian, Canadian, South African, Burmese, Chinese, African and the Indian Army. There were many different languages, faiths, customs and eating habits to contend with, all marshalled together by General William Slim. It was to be one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts of WWII taking place in the mountainous jungle of Burma.

Due to the jungle terrain, no motorised vehicles were of any use, the Army relied heavily on mules for transportation, the mules were found to have incredible stamina. The only problem was that the braying of mules was a great danger to the men during operations in the jungle, in giving away their position to the Japanese. A de-voicing programme took place by an Army Veterinary team to remove the mule’s vocal cords under anaesthetic, they were then given a few days convalescence afterwards.

The bond between Mule and Handler was as strong as any animal /soldier bond in any conflict, this was due to the horrendous shared experiences in the jungle. They all had to cope with hot and humid conditions from May unto November. There would be two Monsoons a year, mountainous terrain, gasping for air, snakes, insects, disease and enemy activity. They were often soaking wet night and day, their whole bodies became white and wrinkled like a “washer woman’s hands”, over time even their shirts would rot of their back.

Wartime singer Vera Lynn went to visit the men in Burma during a morale building tour, one soldier turned to her and said, “will you let the people know we’re here, I think they’ve forgotten us”. Vera Lynn made sure that the “Forgotten 14th” would be forgotten no more!


During September 1944 began Operation MARKET GARDEN an Air-bourne operation in Holland to drive the Allies closer to Berlin. Events went badly wrong for the Allies at Arnhem with the operation poorly organised. Dutch Resistance intelligence was ignored, the German military build-up was under-estimated and the portable radio sets were not fit for the job. If that wasn’t bad enough many men were parachuted too far in from the drop zone. A week of bitter street fighting followed during September 1944. British forces suffered over 11,000 casualties and a further 4,000 taken prisoner from a force of 35,000. As the street fighting continued the radio sets failed to work in a built -up area. British Carrier pigeon, “William of Orange” was released by the British at 10.30 on September 19th, he arrived back at his nest box in England at 14.55. He flew over 250 miles, (400km) at a speed close to 60mph. The message he delivered was to save the lives of more than 2,000 Allied soldiers at the time of the Battle for Arnhem. He received his PDSA Dickin Medal in May 1945. 


Christmas 1944 was miserable, alcohol would be in scarce supply as was food. As in keeping with all the Ration years, baths could be no greater than 5 inches deep once a week. The children would still get their bag of sweets and perhaps a comic or two, such as The Hotspur, The Dandy, The Beano or Adventure and a comic to empower young women called Girl. On Christmas Day from 1939 onwards the radio featured a Christmas speech by King George VI and it became so popular that it stuck at Christmas. At the beginning of Rationing, the Ministry of Food brought out some Recipes for Christmas cake and other seasonal fare, sadly by 1943 – 44 the rationing had bitten hard and very few could obtain the ingredients required. The pubs still sold beer, but whisky had all but disappeared. It was being exported to the USA to help pay for American Military goods, fuel, food and various essential spares for equipment to help maintain the British War effort. The older generation may-of contented themselves with a milk stout or two, with a little nutmeg grated on top. The Christmas of 1939 must feel a long, long time ago!  




The next attacks by the Luftwaffe were centred on the greater London area and was called Operation STEINBOCK or THE BABY BLITZ. This was a strategic bombing campaign from Jan – May 1944 but much smaller than the main Blitz. Apart from London, the Bristol and Cardiff harbours were hit. It achieved very little with the Luftwaffe losing 329 Aircraft before it was abandoned. The Baby Blitz had worn down the offensive capability of the Luftwaffe to such a degree that it could not launch any significant counter attacks on 6th June 1944 (D-Day). On January the 20th 1944 the RAF dropped 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.

Favourite movies from 1943/44 were: Heaven can Wait, Phantom of the Opera and I Walked with a Zombie (The old ones are the best!) During 1944 the most popular movies were: To Have and Have Not and Arsenic and Old Lace. * The year 1944 saw the first civilian dog awarded with the Dickin Medal. Sheila was a Scottish Sheep Dog and was awarded her medal for assisting in the rescue of four American Airmen lost in a blizzard on the Cheviot Hills after an air crash in December 1944.


HAMBURG was the second worst bombed city after Berlin. The city was an important target from the early stages of the war until the end. It was an important port for Germany just as Liverpool was for the British. The city was also targeted as it was easier to find than other German cities. The RAF could fly close to the European shore and would arrive at the mouth of the river Elba which took you directly into the city. How-ever the worst damage was done from 1943 onward when the British would have day-raids and the Americans night raids or visa-versa. The most intense raids came in July and August 1943 as a result, a million people fled the city. Big fires would flare up again and again. The Hagenbeck Tierpark Zoo in Hamburg would lose 700 animals. Albert Speer was an Architect and Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production he was certainly no fool and he also had “Hitler’s ear”. Speer told Hitler that if the bombing of further German Cities continued like Hamburg, the war was over. Hitler ignored Speer’s advice, putting his faith in the V1 and V2 rockets and carried on regardless.


From the Allies point of view all things were gearing up for D-Day it was going[GS1] [GS2]  to be the biggest movement / invasion of humans the world had ever seen, and it was due to happen on Tuesday 6th June 1944. This invasion/liberation was to take place within a 60 mile stretch of coast in Normandy, northern France. This coastline was divided up into 5 sectors, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. On the Eastern side, British forces were predominant at Sword and Gold helped by the combined forces of (Australian, New Zealand, Polish, Czech, Dutch, Norwegian, Free French, Free Belgian, Luxembourg and Greek forces). The Canadians would lead at Juno, with the Americans leading at Omaha and Utah beaches in what was named Operation OVERLORD.

 The Royal Navy ships that were anchored at southern English ports were to give up their egg ration so as the first wave of men heading to France could get a decent breakfast/meal in their stomach. An egg might not seem much, but Great Britain had been under the cosh of rationing for 4  years. It was also a gesture of support from the Navy, that realised just how difficult this operation would be. Dwight D Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, he was also a caring and genuine man. When he inspected and shook hands with the troops, he found it extremely difficult to look them in the eye knowing where they were being sent to. There was going to be many, many casualties!

To attempt to cut down on casualties the Allies did everything in their power to hide the date, location and time of the landings from the enemy. In the lead up to D-Day all use of military radio was banned, for fear of information being “leaked”. Carrier pigeons were the only source of communication during that period. In the time leading up to D-Day, the Allies liked to feed/leak, information to the Germans that Norway was the preferred landing area. To strengthen this belief the British Government asked the Swedish Government to artificially manipulate the Swedish Stock Exchange so that Norwegian stock rose quickly by 20%. This gave the impression of Norwegian optimism suggesting an invasion was imminent thus deflecting some German troops and Artillery away from northern France.

 The Allies also went to great lengths to keep moving their artillery and trucks around the southern coast of England. They even had Blow-up rubber tanks as decoys. They were designed to look like a US Sherman tank and easily carried by four men for re-positioning. Another device that was being constructed around Britain was the MULBERRY HARBOURS. This was a portable and cleverly constructed harbour that during the invasion, would allow larger ships to berth off the Normandy coast the Mulberry being long enough to stretch into deeper water. They were part constructed in the area between Garlieston Harbour and the Isle of Whithorn on the Scottish side of the Solway Firth. Three Mulberry Harbour prototypes were tested at these secret locations in Wigtonshire. The War Ministry used this area because the flat sandy beaches would be similar to Northern France.



As they prepared for D-Day and the fight against Nazi Germany the 13th Battalion of the British Army developed a new weapon: Parachuting dogs! (I kid you not!) These dogs would have the job of locating mines, booby traps, keeping watch, warning about enemies as well as being companions and mascots. As well as Bing / (his civi street name was Brian) there was Monty, and Ranee, the only female parachuting dog in the war. Girl dogs were used less because of problems attracting male stray dogs. Bing was a German Shepherd / Collie cross who may have been described as a “reluctant hero”. His name was originally called Brian however he was given to the Army in 1944 when his owner could no longer feed him due to the Rationing restrictions. The dogs were thoroughly trained for D-Day. They were trained to identify battlefield scenarios and the smell of explosives and gunpowder.

 They would also have to handle booby traps and learn how to continue to work if their handler was killed in battle. They would get used to the sound of aircraft propellers spinning, flashing lights and mock battles. To make it easier to jump they were given nothing to eat or drink before-hand. The training routine was Jump – Land – Eat. When they achieved a certain number of successful jumps, they were fully qualified Paratroopers. Three planes with 3 dogs took off for Normandy at 11.30 pm on the 5th June 1944 in order to clear mines that would be a hazard to the main body of Allied troops. Taking off from an Oxfordshire airfield at 1.10 am on the 6th they arrived over Normandy. Bing was apparently curled up in the back of the plane. It was obvious that Bing was comfy and relaxed and not caring much about drop-zones, so his handler had to grab a hold of Bing and escorted him to the dispatch door, the handler then gave Bing a wee nudge in his rear end and off he went.  Bing managed to parachute down ok, but he got stuck in a tree. He had to wait 2 hours until his comrades found him. (I think I’d be reluctant to jump out a plane if I had to spend 2 hours swinging from a tree!)

Non-the-less they all did a great job and remained in France until September 1944. Bing and his pals would once more be dropped, this time over the river Rhine. On this occasion Bing was “more alert” about the drop zone and in March 1945 they were advancing into Germany. A thirsty Bing had stuck his head under a man’s fence for a drink of water only to find he had drunk-dry a drip tray of white wine. The men had a great laugh watching Bing swaying like a daffodil in a March breeze. Despite his little mishaps Bing made it all the way to the coast and the Baltic Sea. Bing survived the war and our “reluctant hero” was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. The device that the dogs found, the most difficult to deal with were the Schu-Mines, this was a German Anti-Personnel mine used in WWII. It consisted of a simple wooden box with a hinged lid, containing 200g or a 7oz block of cast TNT and a 22 – 42 type, detonator.

Bing was credited with saving the lives of hundreds of men. If something was “fishy” or didn’t seem right Bing would freeze and “point” towards the danger with his nose. He was also wounded in action, by mortar fire, his injuries were treated at the Vet Kennels near Stockport .They believe he was injured when he was swinging from “that tree” * During wartime when choosing Search & Rescue dogs for training, the handlers placed great emphasis on the dogs’ eyes. Dogs with black eyes were deemed surly and erratic whilst dogs with light eyes were believed to be wilful. The preferred option was dogs with hazel coloured eyes which the handlers believed showed a firmer character. *  


The British 6th Airbourne division were also parachuted into northern France in advance of the D-Day landings. They had to capture vital bridges to protect British and Canadian troops. They also had to destroy the Merville gun battery, this fortress contained 4 large calibre guns. An excellent job well done but at a high price of men. It was never going to be easy.

 A dog closer to home that had been “doing their bit” was Blackie a German Shepherd from Maryhill, Glasgow. In July 1944 Blackie attacked 8 thieves attempting to burgle a clothing store.


With the Allies now entrenched on French soil many Evacuees would start to drift back to their homes, this was commonplace when there was a period of good news or a lull in fighting, sadly their optimism was short lived. In only a week since the D-Day landings, Hitler retaliated with his V-I Rockets which became known as the “Doodlebug Summer”. The V-1 Flying Bomb or Vengeance Weapon 1 was known to the Allies as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug. The bombs were mainly launched at London and southern England from launch facilities along the French   coast. The first V1 was launched at London on 13th June 1944, at its peak more than 100 V1’s were fired daily at the South East and London. That was a total of 9,521 with the Belgian port of Antwerp also being targeted due to its importance to the advancing Allies.

 The Dumb Friends League shelter in Hammersmith was shattered by a V1 flying bomb and the Wandsworth branch at 82 Garratt Lane was entirely demolished. Fortunately, the animals were mainly at the back of the building and evaded the worst of the explosion.  * During WWII the French Resistance fighters would recognize fellow members by the slant of their beret. The Resistance wore their berets according to the Spanish style rather than French. The subtle difference would not be noticed by the general population, only by the Resistance. Since 1942 the British had been sending Morse Code messages to the French Resistance. *

Allied bombing on German Cities were now reaching Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and also the Ruhr cities of Duisburg, Essen, Bochum, (Dortmund, whose Underground bunkers were reinforced during 1943.) Gelsenkirchen an urban /industrial area of the North Rhine / Westphalia. They would all be heavily bombed. Hamburg was the most hit city in Germany at that time. Raids on Berlin in November 1943 made 400,000 Berliners homeless. * There was a Luftwaffe pilot from the town of Oschatz in Saxony who would return to his hometown when- ever he could, to show his family he was “still in one piece”  He would fly between the gap of the church twin Spires just to say he was ok. *

Cologne Cathedral suffered 70 hits by aerial bombing during WWII, it stood tall and is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

* The Biro pen was the invention of Hungarian journalist Ladislav Biro. The benefits of this new pen, was its quick drying ink combined with a ball point that never blotted or smudged. In the last year of the war the RAF bought 30,000 pens. The biro was invaluable in the air for navigators marking up their charts in turbulence or air attack. *   


The V1 was fuelled by 625 litres of 75 octane gasoline, for direction it was fitted with a Gyro Compass. The altitude of these rockets was 2000 – 3,000 ft (600 – 900m) and the top speed was 340 mph whilst carrying a 1 Ton warhead. It took 15 minutes for the V1 to leave Calais, France and arrive in London. If you happened to hear the noise of the V1 you were safe however if you looked up and the engine had cut-out, then you were in big trouble!! These rockets would leave deep craters in the ground and much more debris than a standard Blitz attack.


Whilst Rip, Beauty and co were the heroes of the Blitz search and rescue, it was now going to take bigger and more powerful search and rescue dogs to deal with these V1 rockets over an 80- day period. Cometh the hour cometh the dogs. They came in the shape of German Shepherd dogs, Jet, Irma, Rex, Thorn, Psyche and a Collie called Peter. Mrs Margaret Griffin should be singled out for praise, whilst many dogs were given to handlers to work on the bomb sites Mrs Griffin not only gave her two dogs Irma and Psyche, but she joined them trampling around the burning bombsites giving instructions! She would later receive the British Empire Medal for all her efforts. *Thorn the German Shepherd dog was a direct descendant of a little puppy found in a WWI German Trench called Rin-Tin-Tin*

 The first thing that was noticed was that, the V1 rocket on impact radiated out far more heat than the Blitz bombs and the dog’s feet were being burnt. Well-wishers knitted the dog’s a set of boots but with all the scrambling around they were soon holed and damaged. The handlers decided to make stitched leather boots which seemed to do the trick. The dogs worked tirelessly trying to locate survivors and by the time they were finished they could not make a sound or move for tiredness. It seemed a pity that the dogs were wasting precious energy searching/digging for deceased victims when living victims needed all their help. With that in mind the dogs were now going for further training with their handlers to St Stephens Hospital Mortuary’s (which is now part of the New Chelsea and Westminster Hospital). The handlers were given permission to take the dogs into the Mortuary, they then started training the dogs to ignore all the dead bodies. In time, that is what they did at the bomb sites. * In one incident Irma refused to leave a scene for two days until two young girls were found in the rubble alive. Psyche could find pets, animals as well as people buried in the rubble. *

 Search and Rescue dog Irma (who worked alongside Psyche) would even have 2 barks, one if she stumbled past a buried corpse and a different stronger bark when she found a buried survivor. The one thing that threw the dogs off were (mixed, fragmented scents) from a large explosion or those who were close to the full impact of a big explosion. The majority of these dogs would go on to win the PDSA Dickin Medal. Irma and Psyche worked the Southgate area of north-east London. These dogs assisted in the rescue of 191 people trapped under buildings. Despite all the dog’s heroics they could only eat (meat condemned for human consumption) Mrs Margaret Griffin was livid that her dogs couldn’t get the best of meat and had hoped to get the dogs meat from the local butcher. Sadly she had no option but to get the “human condemned meat” from the Caledonian Cattle Market in Islington. The meat was ok for dogs, but it had a green dye running through it, which could not be “boiled out” leaving the meat un-appetizing. ( was to stop Black Market trading.) Mrs Griffin would make regular trips down to the Islington Meat Market as 8 of her dogs were now involved in search and rescue. 


 Meanwhile everything that could be done was being done to limit the damage of these rockets. Fighter aircraft were scrambled to shoot down the rockets. On many occasions the RAF would fly alongside the rocket at 340mph and tip the rocket’s tail fin with the fighter plane’s wing tip. This threw the rocket out of balance and it fell to the fields below. The barrage balloons also helped, they were set up along the southern coast and London was ringed with Barrage Balloons. However, the rocket was very cleverly constructed and on each right and left fin there were Cable-Cutters. If the rocket flew into the wire it would quickly rest hard against the fin, this would trigger a small explosion, and this energized a thick blade that cut the cable clean through. (A bit like when a cable jointer fires a bullet to activate a cutter to safely “spike” a cable).

 If it had been activated once it could not be activated on that fin again, so this helped the London Barrage Balloons to trap many rockets in the cables. Anti-Aircraft guns were also deployed with success. It is believed that a total of 231 V1 rockets were destroyed by Barrage Balloons. Aircraft were to destroy 1,000 rockets a small proportion went faulty and lost their direction. The majority of rockets “downed” were from Anti-Aircraft guns, the poor display of anti-aircraft guns during the blitz was long gone. The British now had new guns brought in initially for the D-Day landings. These guns were state-of-the-art with a Fire-control-System based on an analogue computer, deployed on the south east coast.

 As the month of August progressed the number of rockets shot down began at 17% then rose to 60% and by the end of the month it was at 74% of all rockets fired, non-the-less the V1 rockets had inflicted a great deal of damage.* When the V1 rockets were cutting through the Barrage Balloon cables this presented a dilemma for the British. These balloons contained 50% hydrogen, if they drifted over a built- up area and ignited it could be disastrous. To avoid this, when the mooring cable was cut, a panel would be ripped away on the balloon causing it to deflate safely. *


The V1 rockets stopped in October 1944 after the firing site was overrun by allied forces. No sooner did the last rocket fire that a new and greater danger showed itself. This Rocket was known as the V2 or Vengeance Weapon II. This rocket was in a different league and it was the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile. Hitler had deemed this a retaliation for the Allies heavy bombing against German cities. The Rockets began in September/October 1944 with over 3,000 V2 rockets launched. London would receive 1,358, Norwich 6, Ipswich 1, Brighton 1, Remagen 11, Maastricht 19 and later Antwerp and Liege.

 The V2 could blast a crater 20 metres wide and 8 metres deep and flew 4 times faster than the speed of sound, it gave no warning of impact. On explosion it could produce 3,000 tons of Rubble. These rockets were launched from the Dutch coast on Islands like Walcheren. When the first rocket exploded in London, they had no clue what it was, so in order to prevent panic and undue concern they reported the blast as a gas explosion. From that day onward, the Cockneys with their dry wit called the rockets, flying gas pipes! If only! Gyroscopes were used to determine direction and the mixture for fuel was ethanol / water and liquid oxygen for an oxidiser. The V2 rocket travelled at 3,580 mph approx. 4 times the speed of sound. The war head contained 2,010 lbs of explosives. To distil the fuel alcohol for one launch required 30 tonnes of potatoes. *After the Search and Rescue dogs received their Dickin Medal many retired and became Demonstration Dogs at a Dog School in Gloucester.

To control/destroy this weapon was extremely difficult, and no one had an answer. One sad story was that, most of the caged birds in older people’s homes had been good company during the dark days of the war. They managed to survive the Blitz and the V1 Rockets but when the V2’s exploded all the caged birds within a large radius died from the shock-wave. The rockets travelled far too fast for Barrage Balloons, for aircraft and for Anti-Aircraft guns. The British had no answer to this problem although in time British Intelligence came up with an idea that would help. They sent out a false report (Fake News!) implying that the rockets were over-shooting their London target by 10 or 20 miles. The tactic worked, more than half the V2’s aimed at London were adjusted and were now landing outside the London Civil Defence region. The British Intelligence kept the lie going by repeatedly sending bogus reports implying that the rockets were now striking the British capital with heavy loss of life. Sadly, almost half the rockets fired still hit their intended target. The rockets were on borrowed time though, as the Allies were now liberating Holland.


 * It was during 1944 that the Nazi’s began deportation of Jews from Hungary. *

Jane Haining was born in Dunscore near Dumfries in 1897, she became a Church of Scotland missionary working in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. She began work in 1932 with a mixture of Jewish and Christian orphans. All missionaries were ordered back to Scotland when the Nazi’s invaded Hungary in 1944, however Jane refused to leave the children and remained until she was arrested for not handing over the Jewish Orphans in her care.

After 3 weeks in a crowded prison Jane was transported to Auschwitz Concentration Camp where she continued to care for the Jewish Orphans until her transfer and death behind the gates of the Birkenau camp in August 1944, aged 47.  In 1997 YAD VASHEM, the holocaust martyrs and hero’s memorial in Jerusalem awarded Jane Haining, a place among the “Righteous Among the Nations”.   

The Rev Donald Caskie who was a Church of Scotland minister in Paris, became known as the Tartan Pimpernel. He helped an estimated 2,000 Allied servicemen/women escape from occupied France over the Pyrenees mountains to neutral Spain during WWII. He was minster of the Scots Kirk in Paris in 1938 but he was banished to Marseilles for denouncing Nazi’s from the pulpit. He refused a passage on the last ship sailing back to the U.K, and he began running a Seaman’s Mission from where he was recruited by British intelligence to run a chain of safe houses across France. He continued to help soldiers, sailors and airmen as Grenoble University Chaplain before he was finally arrested and sentenced to death by firing squad, fortunately a German pastor intervened on his behalf by appealing to Berlin. He would spend the rest of the war in a POW camp. Donald Caskie died in 1983 at the age of 81 and was laid to rest in the family grave at Bowmore on the island of Islay.

Johan van Hulst was to save 600 Jewish children from the Nazi’s in 1942 and 1943. Dutch educator Johan van Hulst arranged for the transport of some precious cargo. It was passed over a hedge, hidden in baskets and sacks, then whisked out of Amsterdam by bicycle to the safer, rural countryside. That’s how the Jewish children were taken to safety during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. He died on March 22nd 2018 aged 107. He was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

Oskar Schindler This German Businessman would spend up to 4 million marks keeping his Jewish workforce out of the Death Camps, an enormous sum of money for those times. He risked his life to rescue his Jews from the shadow of Auschwitz. He not only saved 1,300 Jews but he also saved their faith in humanity. Oskar Schindler rose to the highest level of humanity, using his Nazi contacts to bribe for security for his workforce. Oskar Schindler was brought up in a strong Catholic household with deeply religious parents. His early play-friends were Jewish.

 Although Oskar was an Industralist he joined then Nazi Party to improve his business possibilities. The Jewish work force worked in Enamelware and Ammunitions factories in occupied Poland, Bohemia and Moravia. Oskar died on the 9th October 1974 in Hildesheim, Germany. He is buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion. Around 7,000 descendants of the Schindler-Jews are alive today.

Claus Ascher was born in Berlin in 1922. His patriotic father had fought for Germany in the First World War. His blonde mother couldn’t have been more Aryan if she tried. When WWII broke out, Ascher, then 18, was quick to volunteer, but he was not fighting for Hitler. His name was now Colin Anson and he was a Royal Marines Commando who swore allegiance to King and Country. He was among more than 10,000 Germans and Austrians that fled the Nazi regime and volunteered to join the struggle against Hitler. They became soldiers, sailors and airmen and took part in operations behind enemy lines. They carried out vital intelligence work and participated in the D-Day landing.       

*A Brigade group of The British Army was made up of Jewish volunteers from Palestine. The Jewish Brigade was formed in 1944 and helped liberate Italy in 1945. Approximately 1.5 million Jews fought in the regular Allied armies *


Hitler was to attempt his last counterattack to split up the allied armies in N.W. Europe by means of a surprise thrust through the Ardennes to Antwerp. This took place in the freezing winter from 16th December1944 / 25th January 1945. As the German’s drove deeper into the Ardennes the Allied line took on the appearance of a large bulge, hence the Battle of the Bulge. The German’s were attempting to secure bridgeheads, there were many heavy casualties on both sides. The U.S. Army Medics that would treat the injured with morphine had to warm the ampules of morphine in their under-wear for fear of it freezing. The US suffered a great deal with cold / frozen and gangrenous feet.  By comparison the German’s suffered much less with  gangrenous feet. They had learned a trick from the Russians on how to insulate their boots properly. The Germans wore their boots a size too big, they then lined the gap with straw or newspaper, they never wore socks but wrapped their feet in dry rags to keep dry and warm.

When the Allies had to dig a foxhole in the Ardennes forest even that had complications. First the hard-deep snow had to be removed followed by having to use a pick (if possible) to break through the surface of the ground. If that was not enough, they then had to cut away at all the tree roots as they dug down. After spending the night in a freezing foxhole, they had to urinate on their machine guns to unfreeze the mechanism in the morning. * A patrol from a British Corps in the Ardennes looked the part in their snowsuits, however the snowsuits were actually made from white bedsheets / blankets donated by nearby villagers. *


The Dutch Famine of 1944 /45, known in the Netherlands as the Hongerwinter, (Hungry Winter)  was a famine that took place in the German- occupied Netherlands, especially in the densely populated Western Provinces. In 1944 the Dutch National Railways complied with the exiled Dutch Government’s appeal for a railway strike starting in September 1944, to further the Allied liberation efforts. The German administration replied by placing an embargo on all food transports to the Western Netherlands.

Everyone was very cold and hungry the fitter young men and women would walk tens of kilometres to trade valuables for food on farms. Tulip bulbs and sugar beets were commonly consumed, with many people having to dismantle furniture and house materials to provide fuel for heating. The Germans were to partially lift the embargo in November 1944, allowing restricted food transports over water. The sad irony was that the canals had frozen over and it was impossible for the barges to move. The end of the famine came when the RAF and Canadian Air Force dropped food supplies to Holland from 29th of April – 7th May 1945, known as Operation MANNA. As well as the US 3rd Air Division dropped 800 tons of K-rations at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport from 1st – 3rd May 1945 as part of Operation CHOWHOUND.



On 15th of December 1944 famous Band Leader and jazz musician, Glen Miller is presumed dead after his flight failed to reach Paris. Miller was at the height of his fame when his plane vanished over the English Channel. He had a string of hits with songs like, “In the Mood”, “Little Brown Jug”, “Moonlight Serenade”, “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and many more. When war broke out, he enlisted in the US Army, and his Army Air Force Band boosted morale with a series of concerts for US troops in Britain.


The Fuhrerbunker was an Air-Raid shelter located near the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. It was part of an underground complex constructed in 2 phases in 1936 and 1944. It was the last Headquarters used by Adolf Hitler during WWII. Hitler took up residence in the bunker on 16th of January 1945 when it became the centre of the Nazi regime until the end of WWII in Europe


President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 12th 1945 from a massive cerebral haemorrhage while staying at Warm Spring, Georgia. For millions in the USA it seems inconceivable that life will go on without him. (You won’t see his likes for a long, long time.)


 * Many people would be forgiven for thinking that all WWII German Military personnel gave the Nazi salute however it was rare for any members of the Wehrmacht (The German Army) to use the salute. Only after the attempt on Hitler’s life in July 1944, were they all forced to use the salute as a show of solidarity with their leader. *


 During the battle of The Bulge many German soldiers were infiltrating American ranks, this situation was solved by the US President’s dog Fala. The war-time US President Franklin D Roosevelt had a beloved pet dog called Fala who was a black Scottish Terrier. He was named after the Presidents Scottish ancestor, John Murray of Falahill, shortened to Fala. The dog had gained national popularity so whenever American troops were suspicious of someone in their ranks they would ask each other the name of the President’s dog. All the American’s would know the answer, but the Germans did not. Around this time the German’s were feeling the effect of fuel shortages. The German counter- offensive was split in two by the men of General Omar Bradley, not long after the entire German garrison of 325,000 men and 30 German Generals surrendered. If ever there was a strong indicator that the war should end it was now!


On a slightly lighter note: There was once a Cairn Terrier who stowed away aboard the bomber aircraft of British Pilot Officer Peter Boyd. They were attacked by an enemy fighter whilst over their target area, taking some damage which got worse on the home journey when the tank burst into flames. PO Boyd grabbed the dog and parachuted out of the aircraft where they landed in a woman’s garden. The lady totally ignored the pilot but made a great fuss of the dog. (It’s so reassuring to know they made it back to Britain!)

*The top movies for 1945 were Brief Encounter, Caesar & Cleopatra and Spellbound*


Hitler would ignore pleas to end the war at this point, instead he was recruiting children as young as 10 to “buy him” some extra time, their uniforms hung off them and their helmets were way too large, a tragic-state-of affairs. He also recruited old men many of whom would have been “up in years” during WW1. You would have thought they had already suffered enough! Hitler was a “fight until the last man” fanatic as-long-as someone else did all the fighting. By this time in the war the German people were dying needlessly. The British and Americans had pounded the German cities in the hope of gaining a surrender, if there had been an earlier surrender, aid would be rolling into Germany and the bombing of Dresden would never have happened. The Germans were no longer able to fight the war. American Fighters had destroyed Romania’s oil wells with Russia reclaiming theirs. * In the Death Camps the German officers would receive their daily shave from the religious objectors in the camp, they were the only ones intrusted with the job, in that their religious background would prevent them slitting the German Officer’ throats. *


Back in Britain, in the Far North of Scotland, long wooden staves were concreted into the sand at Dunnet Beach at the beginning of the war. They would all be cut down as the threat of invasion had gone. The stumps that were left would periodically re-appear as the sand, tide and wind removed the sand around the hidden stumps, like a memory that refuses to die!


The air-raid shelters under the Gesundbrunnen U-Bahn, (Underground stations) in Berlin were designed to take 1,500 people, yet as the Allies grew more dominant in the air, that figure grew to 3 times that number, all packed into a sealed structure .Candles were used to check the oxygen depletion, as the candles at chin level started to flicker it was now time to evacuate the bunker, bombs or no bombs. The Berlin women and children used to use the train to forage in the countryside for food, but on the 25th of April the U-Bahn, ground to a halt when the power station supplying the network failed.


As WWII progressed, Germany was affected by an oil blockade, the remainder of fuel was used for aviation and tank suppliers. Due to shortages of fossil fuel German cars were converted to accept wood, their cars were known as HOLZBRENNERS. The cars worked by converting wood to wood gas. Late in the war in Germany there was around 500,000 wood burning vehicles in popular use.

In Germany during the last year of the war, Ration Cards were no longer honoured, and shortages of food and clothing were severe. The massive destruction of houses led to a massive shortage in the buildings left habitable. Shops that normally sold milk, had no milk left to sell. To keep up appearances milk bottles were put on display in the shop windows filled with salt! All over Germany, Hitler Youth and members of the Labour Service harvested potato stalks to send to a plant in Weimar where they were turned into fuel pellets.

 As time kept passing, the German military were forced to exist on a make-shift fuel called, “Moselle Petrol” which was a violet coloured, inferior petrol made from a blend of gasoline and alcohol. Wehrmacht tanks and vehicles suffered with flooded filters and clogged carburettors. The tank crews had to pre-heat their exhaust manifolds with blow torches, a dangerous job carrying a severe risk of fire / explosion. There were no planes to intercept Allied bombers because there were so few left and even less fuel. The irony for the Germans was that they were churning out state-of-the-art tanks and aeroplanes late in the war but there was no fuel to operate them. The runways were badly bombed so the few aircraft that were remaining had to land in fields or clearings in the forest. Germany badly needed to train more pilots but there wasn’t the fuel to give them flying experience. Since the winter of 1944 – 45 the Allied bombing missions flew almost un-opposed.

 Meanwhile in the German cities the women had taken to wearing headbands, this was to tidy their hair and keep some dignity when many water pipes were ruptured, and they couldn’t wash their hair frequently. Towards the war’s end Germany was on the brink of starvation, children would be sent out to the fields and forests to forage for food for the family. Some would make up a stew of boiled nettles or pine needles to wave off scurvy. In extreme cases, starvation got so bad that the people would strip wallpaper and boil it in large pots. The wallpaper paste was organic, made from fish derivatives or sometimes potato starch which gave a very small amount of nutrients. Such was the situation in Leningrad. Whilst this was happening Hitler was still firing off V2 rockets on London. Each rocket launch took 30 Tonnes of Potatoes to distil the alcohol. Germany now had the Red Army almost knocking on their door. *Hitler appointed Admiral Donitz, the Commander of the German Navy as his successor as Fuhrer on 29th April 1945. *


By May 1945 1.7 Million people or 40% of the population had fled Berlin however it was estimated that 2 Million civilians were trapped inside Berlin when the Red Army encircled the city.

Hitler married Eva Braun on 29th April 1945, less than 40 hours later they committed suicide.

 Dictator Benito Mussolini was today shot and strung up by his own countrymen. The leader is now seen as no better than a common criminal and was executed on the 28th April 1945. The same treatment was meted out to his mistress Claretta Petacci.

*In Berlin during the last days of the 3rd Reich it was very difficult for Hitler’s staff to get any information on the advancing Soviet army due to the Berlin communication systems being close to failing completely. Hitler’s staff were reduced to checking addresses on the outskirts of the city from the Berlin phone book. They would ring up to hear if the occupant spoke German or Russian*


 During the Second World War a total of 70 – 85 Million People lost their lives.  


 All in all, this war had taken the lives of untold BRITISH, AMERICAN, COMMONWEALTH, EUROPE RESISTANCE & MERCHANT SEAMEN. The death camps had taken the lives of : 6 MILLION JEWS, RELIGIOUS OBJECTORS, FREEMASONS, MENTALLY ILL, MENTALLY HANDICAPPED, PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED, ROMAN CATHOLICS, POLITICAL PRISONERS, GYPSIES, HOMOSEXUALS, ORTHODOX POLES, UKRAINIANS, SOVIET POW’S and the lives of many decent GERMANS,  that saw the winds of changes blowing but by the time they could strike, the head of the snake was far too big, strong and protected. So what can be learned from Nazi Germany? Well if a government plays the Nationalist card and sweeps everyone into a frenzy of national favour and false superiority, then the love of your own country will soon become the hatred of others.


  Dresden is a city in the south east of Germany in a region called Saxony. With its location so deep into Germany it had managed to avoid air-strikes, but it was now vulnerable as Luftwaffe air cover was diminishing. The British bombers arrived first followed by the American bombers, the British took their bearings / co-ordinates from the Dresden Football ground. The next wave of bombers dropped magnesium parachute flares, known by the Germans as “Christmas Trees” to light up the area for the bombers. These attacks would take place between the 13th and 15th February 1945. 3,900 tons of bombs were dropped on the city along with 200,000 incendiaries. The cities, population was swollen by 100,000 – 200,000 refugees who were understandably fleeing westward from the Red army.

The bombs created several fire storms with a speed far greater than any tornado, the temperature reached 1,000 degrees centigrade. In areas where the fire storm used up all the oxygen the people in that area suffocated. People in an area that still had oxygen, but the flames seared their lungs would die a little later as their lungs filled with fluid (Pneumonia). Those safe from the direct effects of the fire or oxygen depletion could be baked in cellars if they couldn’t find a way out. Those that could, headed for the Elbe river. In time 90% of the city was destroyed including the beautiful Lutheran church, The Frauerkircle. It would not be too long before Hitler took his own life on 30th April 1945.


This part of Saxony containing Dresden, Oschatz and Leipzig etc were now part of the Communist Eastern Block, now called the G.D.R. or The German Democratic Republic. These Germans who had suffered under Fascism were now realising that Communism was just the opposite side of a “dirty coin”.

Back in West Germany the 3rd Reich party leaders, in their arrogance were stunned how Germany had lost the war. They couldn’t even believe that the Enigma Code had been broken years since. That puzzled them constantly. Meanwhile the German women known as the Trummerfrau or “ruins women” got on with the job in hand and were working their fingers to the bone helping to clear and reconstruct the bombed cities of Germany. This was during the aftermath of war and they would be constantly occupied from 1945 – 1949. Back in East Germany, in an act of reconciliation the cities of Coventry and Dresden were “twinned” in a special ceremony in 1959.When the GDR was established  in 1949, it immediately claimed East Berlin as its capital. The state of Saxony was broken up into smaller units during Communist rule but was re-established on 3rd October 1990 on the reunification of East and West Germany.

Saxony was especially isolated because they could rarely receive West German TV signals. In 1961, Berlin, the last place through which immigrants could leave East Germany was blocked off by the infamous Berlin Wall. More than 171 persons were shot or fell to their death while trying to escape East Germany at various times. This continued until the summer of 1989, when the reforming Hungarian government opened Hungary’s borders and allowed passage of East Germans through their country. * On the 9th of November 1989 THE WALL CAME DOWN and in April 1990, 18 MILLION CARS lined up at the border between East and West Germany during the first Easter holiday after the fall of the Berlin Wall. *     

Germany would once more be unified, as the Berlin Wall and all the communist satellite states came crashing down. For many German people this finally gave closure to the war years. The New Frauerkircle church in Dresden was reconstructed over 7 years by architects using 3D Computer technology to analyse old photographs. A British Charity called The Dresden Trust was formed in 1993 to raise funds in response for a call to help, they raised 600,000 pounds. One of the gifts made to the project was an 8-metre high orb and cross made by London goldsmiths using medieval nails recovered from the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. It was crafted in part by Alan Smith whose father took part in the Dresden Raid.



And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”.   Isaiah Chapter 2 Verse 4



FLOTILLA: This word originated in 18th Century from the Spanish Flota or “Fleet”. It can mean a small fleet or a fleet of small vessels.

FLOW: A flow is an inlet or basin of the sea. The word Scapa Flow comes from the old Norse word Skalpafoi which means, “the bay of the long isthmus” This refers to the thin strip of land between Scapa Bay and Kirkwall.

“CHRISTMAS TREES” This was the name given by German civilians to the flares which would light up the cities prior to an Allied Air-Raid.  These magnesium parachute flares were used to light up an area of a German city for Allied bombing to take place, making it easier to pick out the targets.  

COMMANDO: In the summer of 1940 when Britain was at her lowest ebb, Winston Churchill called for the raising of an elite force of men to take on the enemy in Europe and regain the initiative for Britain. They trained in the rough terrain around Lochaber. The word originated with the Boers of South Africa. Kommando describes a mounted infantry unit raised to retrieve stolen livestock.

KRIEGSMARINE: This was the Navy of Nazi Germany from 1935 – 1945, it superseded the Imperial German Navy.

THE JELLICOE EXPRESS : This was a Troop Train that ran regularly from London Euston to Thurso, Caithness. It was named after WWI British Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe and carried military personnel for transfer to Scapa Flow.

RADAR: Radar is a system for detecting the presence direction, distance and speed of aircraft, ships or sub-sea objects. It sends out pulses of Radio Waves which are reflected off the object then returning to source. RADAR is an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging.

BRIDGEHEAD: A fortified or defensive position at the end of a bridge nearest to the enemy.

ENIGMA: This was the coding machine used by the German military during WWII. It was designed with rotors and old- style typewriter keys. The word means a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling or ambiguous.

SONAR / ECHO SOUNDER: A device for determining Depth by measuring the time for a pulse of sound to reach the sea-bed or a submerged object and for the echo to return. SONAR is an acronym for SOund Navigation and Ranging.

SYNCHRONOUS: This means occurring or reoccurring exactly together and at the same rate.

FLAK: Originated in the 1930’s from the German abbreviation of Fliegerabwehrkanone which literally means an aviator-defence-gun. They were mounted on towers and used for protection from Allied Bombing but they could just as easily be used as an anti-tank gun. The phrase to “take flak” means to take punishment.

NEUK: This word has Scottish origins and means a corner or “Nook” which can mean a cozy, safe and enclosed space. It can also be applied to an area of coastline of similar traits.

“SOGER”: Is a shortened version of soldier when spoken in a Scottish dialect.

BLITZKRIEG: This word is taken from the German language and it means “lightning war”. The word Blitz is an abbreviation of Blitzkrieg. A Blitz is a violent and sustained attack with intensive aerial bombardment.

MEWS: This is a yard or street lined by buildings originally used as stables. These converted dwellings dates from the 19th Century.

RATTLE: A rattle is a wooden instrument that people shake to make a loud ratchet, knocking noise. It was well used at British football matches but died out towards the late sixties. As it did not require power it was a popular choice for people trying to get a group’s attention or as a warning. As a gas warning it was ideal because the wood would not produce sparks.

REICH: The word Reich is a German word which literally means “realm”. The 1st Reich was regarded as the Holy Roman Empire. Hitler saw his 3rd Reich as the Restoration of the Holy Roman Empire. The 3rd Reich lasted from 1933 – 1945.

THE SHETLAND BUS: This was the nickname given to the extremely hazardous fishing boat runs from Shetland to Norway to assist Norwegian and British Resistance fighters from 1940 – 1945. The boats operated from the port of Scalloway on Shetland’s Atlantic side.

BUCKSHEE: Can mean a gift, gratuity or a small bribe, extra ration or potion. The word originated with the Hindoo word “Backsheesh” The word became popular with WWI & WWII British troops during their time in North Africa/Middle East.

ULTRA: This is the name given to the, interception of German signals prepared on Enigma machines which were decoded at Bletchley Park UK.

DEGAUSSING: A ship being metal will pick up a strengthening magnetic field. Over time this magnetic field if strong enough can trigger enemy mines. The degaussing process was achieved by taking an “electrically charged cable”, known as a degaussing belt around a large section of the ship, to remove the ships charge for safety.

BREN GUN: The Bren-Gun is an air cooled, gas operated sub-machine gun used by the British in WWII. The word Bren is a collaboration between Brno in Czechoslovakia where it was designed and Enfield in Britain, Small Arms Factory where it was produced.

BURGOO: This was a thick porridge that was served up to British Naval Personnel.

JITTERBUG: This is a type of high energy dance style which was popular in Black and White communities in the 1930’s and 40’s USA. This dance became popular in Britain during the influx of American soldiers during WWII.








2nd PETER Chapter 3 Verse 8





THE POOL OF SILOAM: The Gospel of John Chapter 9 Verses 1-12 tells us of the time when Jesus miraculously healed a man who was born blind. Jesus spits on the ground, makes some mud and puts it on the blind man’s eyes. Jesus then instructs the blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam. The blind man did so and was healed.

In 2004 during sewerage works, engineers stumbled upon the steps of a first century ritual pool near the mouth of Hezekiah’s tunnel. By the summer of 2005, archaeologists said, “it was without a doubt the missing pool of Siloam. Mark D Roberts reported: “In the plaster of the pool were found coins that established the date of the pool to the years before and after Christ. There is little question that this is in fact the pool of Siloam to which Jesus sent the blind man”. The pool of Siloam was a popular gathering site for the Jews. Hezekiah’s Tunnel was a water channel; that was carved beneath the City of David in Jerusalem in ancient times. The tunnel leads from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam and provided water in times of siege.


THE PROOF OF PILATE: In years gone by, some people were sceptical of the Bible’s New Testament as there was little proof of the existence of Pontius Pilate and little evidence to connect him to the time of Emperor Tiberius. The only evidence found at that time was small documents and sealing rings. Pontius was believed to be the 5th Prefect/Governor of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius from AD 26 – AD37. He was best known for adjudicating on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The story begins in Roman occupied Judaea where the Roman authorities governed from two centres. The main centre was the northern coastal town of Caesarea and they had an administrative centre in Jerusalem, but only used it in times of Jewish unrest. In 1961 an archaeological team led by Antonio Frova were to find a limestone block that had been reused within a staircase behind the stage-house of the Roman theatre at Caesarea. The carved block measures 82cm’s X 65cm’s or 32 inches X 25inches Approx.

The stone had an inscription in Latin, when translated into English reads:

To the Divine Augusti Tiberieum

Pontius Pilate

Prefect of Judea

Made and dedicated this.

The artefact is currently housed in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and a replica stands at Caesarea. Pilate was Prefect (Governor) in Judea from 26AD – 36AD. Tiberius was Emperor of Rome from 14AD – 37AD. Pontius Pilate was recalled to Rome in 36AD.



James the brother of Jesus was martyred in AD 62. A mid-first century AD ossuary was discovered in 2002 and bears his inscription “Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua”. or “James  son of Joseph brother of Jesus”. The ossuary was originally suspected of being a forgery. However, two eminent palaeographers confirmed it authentic in 2012. New Testament scholar Ben Witherington states, “If as seems possible, the ossuary found in the vicinity of Jerusalem and dated to about AD 63 is indeed the burial box of James, the brother of Jesus. This inscription is the most important extra-biblical evidence of its kind.

An ossuary is a chest or box that serves as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. A body is first buried in a temporary, shallow grave. Then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in the ossuary. Ossuaries could be stored in private graves or temples or in catacombs. They were used in WWI because on occasions there were only a few skeletal remains of soldiers found, so the bones were all buried in a box together. The ossuaries were frequently used where burial space was scarce.

James was an early leader of the Jerusalem Christian Church and was martyred when he was stoned to death in AD 62. The James ossuary came from the Silwan area of the Kidron Valley, south-east of the Temple Mount. The bones had been discarded, as was often the case. According to different Biblical reasoning James is considered a full brother of Jesus or a step- brother of Jesus or a cousin of Jesus.



 In JOB Chapter 38 Verse 16 God asks Job “Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the search of the depth”? In this statement God is trying to impress upon Job that human wisdom is limited, in this statement and many others. Job would have no knowledge of the springs of the sea or the depth of the oceans. The oceans are very deep, almost all the ocean floor is in total darkness and the pressure there is enormous.

In the 1940’s, mapping of the underwater topography was carried out using an echo sounder. Thousands of underwater volcanoes called “seamounts” and “guyots” were recognised and speculation of undersea springs increased. In 1960 metal-rich, hot brines were discovered using sonar at the bottom of the Red Sea. This brine was indirect evidence of water coming out of the ocean floor. There were also reports from Mexican abalone divers, scientists using scuba equipment, had located- water hot springs along the coast of Baja, California in the late 1960’s.

Deep diving research submarines have been constructed to withstand 3 - 6 tons-per-square-inch of pressure at the ocean floor. These submarines have carried scientists into the deep. The first direct observation of deep-sea springs and their mineralised vents were made on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in 1973. The Galaragus Rift springs were described in the November 1979 issue of National Geographic. There-fore as underwater submarines and cameras become more sophisticated more “springs of the sea” have turned up. The ocean is very deep and in total darkness, the pressure is enormous. Until recently, it was thought that oceans were only fed by rivers and rain.

 “The darkness and depth of the ocean and the springs of the sea were unknown to Job and the rest of mankind until the mid-20th century. Yet God spoke of them 5,000 years ago.



What we hope to do here is prove the authenticity of the Bible when comparing this famine event from a secular viewpoint and to see if they match up.

A severe world-wide famine occurring in the Reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius was Emperor from AD41 – AD54, Famine occurring from AD44 – AD48.

Although the famine was called world -wide it was in fact the Roman Empire and her dominions which was the known world. Areas encompassed were Syria to the East and Asia Minor, Spain to the West, Northern France, Germany to the North and sections of North Africa to the South, and also including Rome and Greece* Pontius Pilate was relieved of his duties and returned to Rome in AD 36. He had caused unrest by his use of Temple Funds to build an aqueduct and by being implicated in the slaughter of Samaritans* During the Roman occupation of Judea the Prefect/Governor of Judea could be overruled by the Legate /Roman Envoy or Delegate of Syria.

Roman historians Suetonius and Tacitus mentioned a famine during the reign of Claudius. They both mentioned “BAD HARVESTS” as being the cause the famine. Life of Claudius Chapter 18 by Suetonius and, The Annals: Chapter11:4 by Tacitus. Suetonius also mentioned the exorbitant prices in Rome resulting from the famine.

Jewish historian Josephus mentions in “Jewish Antiquities” the visit of Helena, Queen Mother of Adiabene, a territory east of the Tigris river and (South of Armenia.) She became a convert to Judaism around 30AD. She arrived in Judea at the time of the famine. On seeing the suffering of the people of Jerusalem caused by the famine, she sent out to Alexandra to buy a great quantity of corn and-also sent ships to Cyprus to bring back a cargo of dried figs. Her son, King Izates sent a sum of money to the authorities in Jerusalem to be used for famine relief. Judea suffered badly from AD45 – AD48.

Paulus Orosius was a 4th century historian, within his body of work, he mentions a great famine in Syria which occurred in AD 46 and AD 47.

Also Eusebius of Caesarea would write “Many indeed secretly sold their possessions for one measure of wheat if they were a wealthier class, or a measure of barley if they were poorer. Rioters appeared to rob many, of even the meagre portions of food. If any woman concealed food in their hand their hair was ripped out for doing so. The robbers even robbed the dead and stripped the coverings from their body. Those that were suffering from the famine, now longed for death.

Prefect / Procurator of Judea AD44 – AD 46 was Cuspius Fadus.

Prefect/ Procurator of Judea AD46 – AD48 was Tiberius Julius Alexander.

Under the charge of Emperor Claudius. AD 41 – AD54.


According to the Biblical accounts at the time: Acts Chapter 11 Verses 27,28 “And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch”. Then one of them named Agabus stood up and showed by the spirit that “there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world” (Ancient Roman World). Which would happen in the days of Claudius Caesar.

Paul also mentions this famine and his efforts to relieve the poor in Judea, Syria and Rome. Acts Chapter 11 Verse 30. “so the disciples agreed to make a contribution, each according to his means, for the relief of their fellow-Christians in Judea”

Also 2 Corinthians Chapter 8 Verses 1-3. “We must tell you friends, about the grace of generosity which God has imparted to our congregations in Macedonia. The troubles they have been through have tried them hard, yet in all this they have been so exuberantly happy that from the depths of their poverty they have shown themselves lavishly open-handed. Going to the limit of their resources, as I can testify, and even beyond that limit”. 

The word “Christian” originated in the city of Antioch, in Syria. Antioch was the third city of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria.





This time we are looking at some genuine HOLIDAY INSURANCE COMPLAINTS as well as HOLIDAY CLAIMS.


It took 9 hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It only took the Americans  3 hours to fly home.

(I’ll try to explain this in a similar way that Father Ted educated Father Dougal ok, England is FAR, FAR AWAY from Jamaica but the USA is quite CLOSE to Jamaica. It takes a LONG, LONG, TIME to get to England because it’s FAR, FAR AWAY however it doesn’t take so long to get to the USA as its MUCH NEARER. Don’t get me started on Time Differences!

The sea water was too salty and there was fish in the sea which made our children cry and ruined our holiday. (You must find life a bit of a disappointment)

In our brochure the sand was white but when we arrived it was in-fact a yellowish colour. There was also too much of it as it was being dragged into our room on our sandals and clothes. If you get sand stuck in your “Butt Crack” I don’t suppose it matters if the sand is yellow or white!

I think it should be explained in your brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits such as Custard Creams and Gingernuts.( I must admit, I do enjoy “dookin” a Ginger Nut or two in my tea, however since those Peter Kay concerts, they’ve been filling all the shop shelves with Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers. You never see the local brand biscuits anymore, El Choco Digitos. Best to treat yourself and take a few packets in your case on the flight over.)

The ice in my glass melted too quickly. (Could be worse there could have been a dirty great wasp inside) If that’s the worst thing that happens on your holiday count yourself lucky!

One customer was extremely disappointed that he was not properly informed before getting into a Hot Air Balloon. “There was no sign telling you that you shouldn’t get into a Hot Air Balloon if you are afraid of heights. (I have found in life, that the best indicator for not going up in a Balloon or any-thing else scary is if you spend an hour before hand, beating a path to the toilets).

Another wrote “my plane journey was a disappointment as the sky was too cloudy, obstructing my children’s view of the sea and ruining our game of eye-spy. ( I fear your game of eye-spy was unlikely to last very long, anyway! I spy with my little eye something beginning with (S)

Another complaint was that they couldn’t tell the difference between the towels and the bathmats. “The bathmat was too similar to the hand towel: I kept getting them mixed up. (It’s a blessing she doesn’t have her finger on the nuclear button!)

You said the town was next to a Volcano, but we went up there but there was no lava. I’m pretty sure it was just a mountain! (The unfortunate folk of Pompei would have given everything they owned for Vesuvius to be “just a mountain” on that fateful day. If we continue the same logic, it’s like saying “We were staying at a hotel on an earthquake fault line, but not a single building fell down! what a rip off!( What you need is a truly authentic holiday experience with lots of thrills and spills. Why not rent a wooden apartment on the Ganges Delta during the monsoon season. That should be interesting enough!).

One tourist was unhappy having to drink cocktails on holiday, writing “The water tasted funny so I had to drink cocktails all week. – Now I can’t remember half my holiday” (In years past, I went abroad yet found the water fine, however, with some embarrassment, I still managed to forget half my holiday!)

Trainee Hairdressers were worried they wouldn’t be allowed into their hotel, the brochure stated No hairdressers at the accommodation. “We are trainee hairdressers – will we be ok to stay  there”? Once they were allowed in, they felt discriminated against, writing, “We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew it and made us wait longer for drinks”. (If I have any understanding of trainee hairdressers, it’s not the barman who made them wait longer. More likely it’s the barman struggling to keep up with those thirsty girls! They’ll tell you their throats get dry with all the hairspray I don’t believe a word of it! No one at the hotel will be cutting any hair the Trainees may help each other with their hair, the rest is down to paranoia!)



A father tried to file a claim for a disastrous haircut his teenage daughter got on holiday in Spain. He said, “she was so upset that it ruined the holiday for the whole family” (I think this story has the ring of truth, don’t you think so?)

A woman in a hot-tub sustained an injury after she was “sucked” into the filter, injuring her back (Those “Tubs R Us” people, how do they sleep at night!)

Another couple were incensed to find their neighbours had booked the same hotel, moaning “When we got to the resort we found out that Bert and Mavis from down the road were also there. I hate Bert. (Perhaps Bert and Mavis were more scunnered than you were! I bet you all smiled at each other like “butter wouldn’t melt in your mouths!)

A male tourist became disgruntled and self-conscious during his honeymoon in Thailand by “spotting a  bull elephant which ruined his honeymoon by making him feel inadequate” Look on the bright side, you may have been looking at one of those “ Green Space critters” from the Simpsons, apparently they have 700 Testicles not that I’ve counted them! Although I do have freeze frame on the remote control. If you happen to have your Honeymoon in the far north of Scotland and by sheer chance you come across Kang the green space “critter” simply, dip him in the Pentland Firth for half an hour. It may not solve your problem but it should help reduce it!

In 2018 a British woman from Blackburn complained to the travel operator Thomas Cook that her Benidorm holiday in Spain was ruined by too many Spanish people. The 81-year-old traveller suggested the Spanish, “Go somewhere else for their holidays” and demanded a full refund from Thomas Cook. (What a missed opportunity! We could have used her for Brexit negotiations!)

We had to queue for a boat trip with no air- conditioning! (If the day comes that we need air-conditioning to go on a boat trip we truly are up the creek!)

A pensioner, whose false teeth fell out while he vomited over the side of a cruise ship, put in a claim to his travel insurers for new dentures under “lost baggage” Barry: returns to his holiday romance girlfriend.” Am afa sorry onica I lost my ukin teef overboard. Could I go till your Cabin for a sweg or two O’ Minty Fresh mooth wash .” Will thish make any difference to our holiday romance onica? Veronica said, “I don’t mind you relieving yourself of a gut full of ale into the Atlantic and the lower deck of the ship, nor for having no teeth, which also fell in the Atlantic. I don’t mind you using up half my bottle of minty mouthwash. Where I do draw the line is having a romantic meal for two with someone who has to mash his food up with a fork”!! Barry: “Im gonna Mith onica!”