Maria Dickin was the founder of the veterinary charity PDSA, (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), she set up the DICKIN MEDAL for animals displaying gallantry and devotion to duty.

It has come to be recognised as “the animal’s Victoria Cross”. The award was first instituted in 1943, there has been only been 67 winners to date, here are some of those award winners.

The ribbons on the Dickin Medal are coloured green, dark brown and pale blue representing water, earth and air. This was to symbolise the naval, military, civil defence and air-force.



FAITH  (1945)

Before the war an old church stood in Watling Street near St Pauls Cathedral in the heart of London. It was the church of St Augustine with St Faith. A little tabby cat kept turning up at the church and on three separate occasions the Rev turned her away thinking she was someone else’s cat. The cat persisted and soon became a favourite of the Reverend, his wife and all the congregation.

On Monday September 9th 1940 this little tabby cat had to endure horrors beyond imagination. She was shielding her kittens in a sort or recess in the church, a spot she had selected three days previously. The Rev kept returning her to her basket for greater comfort in better surroundings but on three occasions she returned to the recess. The Rev decided to place her basket in this recess as the cat was determined to stay there.

Faith and her kittens were to sit through the whole frightful night of bombing and fire, steadfastly guarding her kittens. The masonry exploded, four floors fell through in front of her. There was fire and water all around her, yet she still remained calm and waited for help. The Rev asked the firemen about Faith and her kittens but the firemen said sympathetically, “I’m afraid nothing could live through this”. By God’s mercy, Faith and her kittens were not only saved but unhurt!

Maria Dickin was to tell the couple that Faith could not receive a Dickin Medal because Faith was a civilian cat and not attached to the Armed Forces or Civil Defence. However Mrs Dickin was so impressed with Faith’s bravery that she was going to have a special Silver Medal made. The presentation took place on a sunny day on 12 October 1945.

The Archbishop of Canterbury held the cat as Maria Dickin read the citation and presented the medal to Faith. The citation read: From the PDSA to Faith of St Augustine’s, Watling Street, E.C. “ For steadfast courage in the Battle of London, September 9th 1940”

The Parishioners of the church had saved their rations and all contributed to a splendid spread, Faith had a special plate of fish!


OZZY  (2017)

A heroic police dog has been awarded the PDSA Gold Medal, the Doggy worlds equivalent of the George Cross for a lifesaving act of bravery in Falkirk, Scotland. Police dog Ozzy is now nine years old and retired but I’m sure he would single out from his career a difficult emergency in a Falkirk flat in 2015. Along with his handler PC Brian Tennant he was confronted by a man who had already assaulted two people at knifepoint and had severed a gas pipe.

The man was threatening to blow up the building and disaster seemed only seconds away. After P.C. Tennant give the warning signal, Ozzy didn’t need to be told twice that action was needed. The knifeman was swiftly disarmed and arrested. Ozzy’s swift action had prevented a disaster. At the PDSA awards ceremony P.C. Tennant said of his four legged friend, “Ozzy has been a loyal and exemplary police dog throughout his career. He has assisted with apprehending numerous criminals, saved lives and prevented countless injuries to the public and fellow police officers. Receiving the PDSA Gold Medal is a fitting end to his distinguished career- I am really proud of him”.

Ozzy was awarded his Gold Medal on 24th February 2017, the citation read : “For Displaying Outstanding Gallantry in the line of Police Duty and in the Face of Violent Opposition”.

Strange but True

Nearly every Company, certainly every regiment in the army of the Potomac ( Union Army) had a pet of some kind or other. It mattered not whether the object of their affection was a dog, cat, possum, cow or horse. The pet would be loved by all and woe be to the outsiders who dared to insult or injure one of their pets. Occasionally their pets became great hero’s and became favourites for the whole army. * National Income Tax was introduced in the U.S. in 1861, initially to fund the Civil War*


The Camel Brigades of WWI were formed in 1915 for use in the Middle Eastern theatre of war. Camels have been used in battle since the Roman Empire. A bonus of using camels was that their smell spooked the enemies horses.


The world’s biggest battle-cruiser H.M.S. Tiger was launched in Glasgow in 1913. The first German submarine the U-1 entered service in December 1906.


Austrian and Italian troops fought battles in the mountains and glaciers in the Alps during WWI. In recent years, melting glaciers have revealed the frozen remains of soldiers who have been on the mountains for almost a century. Dogs were used to pull sleighs of equipment and provisions through the mountain passes. During WWI, inventor of the radio, Marconi served with the Italian armed forces and directed his country’s radio service. He began experiments with shortwave radio and narrow-beam transmission, making detection by the enemy much harder. This conflict of WWI was known as the White War because of the snow and extreme cold.


Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin in 1928 served with the Royal Army Medical Corps during WWI. His team made great advances in the use of antiseptics in dressing wounds. Although Penicillin was discovered in 1928 it only started to be more widely available by 1942. Initially it was just available for allied servicemen of WWII, where it saved 15 Percent of servicemen’s lives. Mainly Allies suffering from pneumonia, scarlet fever, diphtheria and meningitis. The drug was still in short supply so they recycled the drug from the urine of treated patients.


One Hundred years ago this July began one of the most horrific battles of WWI. The battle of Passchendaele lasted over 3 months from 31st July – 10th November 1917. What made the battle so bad was that many British troops drowned in the mud. German shelling opened up craters in no- mans- land, as the British charged they were weighted down from wearing their full kit. Many would lose their footing with the shelling and fell into the craters which had filled up with rain, unable to escape.

It was said of Passchendaele that losing a horse was worse than losing a man, the sad truth was that men were more replaceable than horses. Passchendaele was known as one of the muddiest and bloodiest battles of WWI that took place in the West Flanders region of Northern Belgium.


The spread known as Marmite contains vitamins which helped keep troops in good condition during WWI. It was included in British soldier’s ration packs and in WWII it was supplied as a dietary supplement in POW camps.


Walt Disney served as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross during the first World War. Mickey Mouse’s original name was “Mortimer”.


In 1925 Greece and Bulgaria went to war after a Greek soldier ran across the border to retrieve his dog. The conflict became known as THE WAR OF THE STRAY DOG.


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.

German Shepherd dog owners who had offered their dogs for war service had been told to enlist as Police Special Constables. 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.


At the end of the Spanish War (1936 – 1939) there was a serious increase in vermin. A “shock troop” of stray cats were collected from all over Spain to deal with the plague of rats. Barcelona and then Madrid were the last cities to fall to the Nationalists. Madrid fell on 28th March 1939.


During WWII the Cats Protection League as well as many other animal welfare societies would find themselves extremely busy during the Blitz. It was around this time that the Cats Protection League were promoting the use of Cat Flaps and Elasticated Collars to help reduce injuries to cats. The PDSA. were also at the sharp end, working with rescue of animals from buildings. Some would survive, sadly many would not.




Storm clouds were looming of that there was little doubt. Neville Chamberlain the British Prime minister was viewed as an appeaser to Hitler yet during 1938 Britain was going “hell for leather” building coastal defences, airports, airstrips, Nissan huts and military equipment. Although Britain still possessed the strongest navy in the world, the rest of the military was in disarray. Very little was 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 was to come, came in the form of the Anderson Shelter. This shelter consisted of a prefabricated tunnel shelter made of corrugated metal and having a concrete floor. By 25th February 1939 1.5 million Anderson Shelters were installed in North London. The shelters were issued free to all householders who earned less than 5 Pounds a week. Many more shelters were to follow in the coming months..

It was now Friday 1st September 1939 and the beginning of operation PIED PIPER which saw the  evacuation of children from British cities. A profoundly difficult decision for the parents of children but done for the right reasons. Some children were evacuated as far as Wales and even the Lake District. Not an easy time. All the cities horses, ponies, mules etc were removed from big built up areas in-case they panicked and became out of control out with the  potential of aerial bombing. Around this time many, many pets were voluntary euthanized citing the carnage from the aerial destruction during the Spanish War and the possible use of gas as good reason. Many did keep their pets for company because their children were evacuated and husbands were called up for military duty. They would take their chances.

On Sunday the 3rd of September came a radio announcement that would reverberate down the years,” we were now at war with Germany”. One London woman would later claim that her dog shot out of it’s basket and “stood to attention at the historic moment”! For the most of Britain, the next 6 months was relatively quiet with German Bombing concentrated on the British Naval Fleet based at Scapa Flow, beginning on 17th October 1939.German pilots traveling the longer distances to  Scapa Flow could be given Methamphetamine which was added to chocolate bars known as Fliegerschokolade (Flyers Chocolate) which helped keep the pilots alert and concentrated. It was later decided that Winston Churchill would take over from Neville Chamberlain on 10th May 1940, a popular decision amongst the British people.

 By the 13th May the German Army had crossed through the Ardennes forest and was now over the river Meuse. Warning bells started to ring for the British Expeditionary Force and the French. Within a day of the Germans entering France the new HOME GUARD Defence Force was announced in Britain for men between 15 – 65 and was to be called the Local Defence Volunteers Within 24 hours 250.000 volunteers offered their services many were battle hardened from WWI.  The British Expeditionary Force started to head towards Dunkirk with their adopted dogs and cats from war torn Belgium. The PDSA had a surgery/hospital in a place called Bievre not far from Paris. They attended to exhausted and sick animals but the call had come to finish off and head towards Dunkirk as fast as was humanly possible. The animal hospital was soon to fall into German hands where it became a hospital for their horses. After the rescue at Dunkirk it was obvious that the lights had gone out all over Europe and Great Britain stood alone however it did stand united.

Food and fuel was to play a big role in Britain’s survival. Britain had to import an enormous amount of  food yet the U-boats were putting many ships to the bottom of the sea. Slowly food rationing was introduced from early 1940 such as meat ,butter and sugar . As time went on more items would be rationed or became non-existent. .Fuel was a big problem as it also had to be imported. The decision was made to return all the horses, donkeys etc 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. Pigs and poultry were fed on cheap imported corn while the horses and donkeys were  put on a RATION CARD. Owners of horses, donkeys etc were also given detailed instructions on how to control their animals during an air raid by NARPAC, (The National Air Raid Precaution Animals Committee)


So what about the 4 legged rations? During WWII Chappie dog food was being made in Slough as was Kit-e-Kat. As time progressed these items became harder to find and as the shortages increased Chappie contained 70 percent water. It was decided that it wasn’t worth the fuel costs to transport Chappie around the country. Some dogs were fed on stale bread and oatmeal made into a thick porridge. Dogs in military service may of received offal and oatmeal with  the addition of Spillers Winalot as a rusk (when available). Some dogs were taking matters into their own paws!! A Bristol family recounted how they were starting on a frugal supper of cheese and biscuits when the siren sounded. “ We all dived under the dining table as we heard the first bomb fall. On emerging we found our dog had polished off all our suppers. He was licking his lips and looking not the least ashamed”!

So what of the cats food? Well, early on in the war things didn’t look too bad but over-time the U-boats were destroying increasing numbers of ships. Kit-e-Kat was very hard to find and many cats were surviving on cod heads/fish heads. Even fish heads was anything but guaranteed due to the danger to fishing boats from U-boats and the weather. Things would get worse for the cats, many of their owners would queue for up to four hours for A SHEEP’S WINDPIPE or SHEEP’S LUNGS. Once home it would take another four hours to cook the  windpipe. I don’t know how much nutrition was left in a windpipe cooked for that amount of time but I suppose it filled a hole. However 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! (I can sympathise, a hungry dog stole our Sunday dinner in the late 1960’s. It was peacetime. but it still hurt!)

A renewed public appeal was made during war-time 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 out and do your duty, you’re going to be a “sojer” dog”! The breeds preferred were German Shepherds and crosses, Airedales, Boxers, working collies, Labradors and curly coated Labradors and Bull Terriers.

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 LAND GIRLS that would help on farms to insure the best possible harvest. In the cities many women answered the call to take over from all the enlisted men in factories and munitions plants across the country One tragic story from this early time was that, many young girls wore their hair with a kiss-curl at the front. This was in keeping with their Hollywood idol Lana Turner who did similar. Tragically for the women operating high speed lathes, this kiss-curl was accidentally fed into the machinery leaving a section of their scalp and hair ripped out.

What was 1939/40 like for women with their children evacuated and menfolk away in some far flung nation ? One great pleasure and escape was the cinema, once the movie started they could switch off from the outside world for a couple of hours. 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.

Another popular entertainment during the war was a night at the dancing, where many women could let of steam and meet people in a similar predicament. Many would join hands to do a dance called the Lambeth Walk a song taken from the 1937 musical Me and my Girl. Lambeth is a working class area of London. Other popular songs were We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn. Wish Me Luck as you Wave Me Good-bye, as well as Tommy Dorsey with I’ll Never Smile Again and Artie Shaw with the song “Frensi”. Pets became even more important as many women returned to an empty house.


On August 13th 1940 Germany launched an air offensive in preparation for an invasion of the British Isles. They had hoped to knockout British Aircraft, Runways and Airports so as to gain air superiority however they were met with strong opposition from the RAF.  The 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 in these Islands . The RAF using Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes and with the benefit of early radar lost 915 planes against the German total of 1,.733. 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 while treating many RAF pilots burned in WWII.


The German Luftwaffe could no longer sustain the heavy loss of fighter aircrafts so they abandoned this conflict however Hitler made a decision to strike at the heart of Britain. This would mean Britain was going to have to endure heavy aerial bombing across all cities, from Aberdeen in the north to Clydebank, Belfast and Liverpool in the west, Birmingham and Coventry in the midlands and Newcastle and Sunderland in the east and the South coast, with London receiving the greatest punishment. This attacks became known as the BLITZ!




It became an offence in the UK  for anyone to keep pigeons without a permit during wartime, or to free, wound or kill any racing or homing pigeons. Anyone finding a pigeon, alive or dead, with an identification mark or a message attached had to hand it in at once to a policeman. No attempt should be made by any individual to read or decode the message. The voluntary Avian Corps took effect in wartime when pigeon fanciers made their birds available for military use- in return for an official ration of corn. Many thousands would be employed.


On the home front, war dogs guarded prisoner-of-war camps and defended industries from saboteurs. Other dog breeds such as Beagles were used to assist in the rehabilitation of wounded veterans.


The first BBC Radio presenter with a northern accent was Wilfred Pickles, he was given the job to make it more difficult for the Nazi’s to impersonate British news-readers.


Nissen huts were the early 20th century invention of British engineer Peter N Nissen who lived from (1871 – 1930), these huts were used extensively in both World Wars. The hut consisted of a prefabricated tunnel shelter made of corrugated metal and having a concrete floor. The huts were used to great effect during WWII because the huts semi -circular shape, made bombs and shrapnel difficult to ignite or land on the curved shape.


According to American Dog Training Troops during the Korean War in 1950, the training of dogs developed until there was 16 dogs to 20 cavalrymen as part of a unit. As many as 4 teams were assigned to action during 1 night. Assignments included Roving Patrols and Listening Posts operating both behind or forward of the front lines. The platoon became so relaxed that all the responsibility of detecting the enemy was left to the dogs. This was a little scary for the handler at first, but their confidence in the dogs ability was extremely high. Handlers were often paired with more than 1 dog.


Cairnryan in Wigtownshire was the location for the construction of parts for the Mulberry Harbours used at the beach in northern France during the Allied Invasion of 1944. This portable and cleverly constructed harbour allowed allied ships a greater depth of water to berth. The Atlantic U-boat fleet surrendered in Loch Ryan in 1945 and were berthed at Cairnryan before being taken out into the Atlantic and sunk.


There was a 2nd Lt Fred J. Christsensen who joined the 56th Fighter Group based at RAF Halesworth, Suffolk in August 1943. He flew P-47 Thunderbolt fighters and was soon to be renowned as an “ace”. The veteran pilot was to find greater fame when he adopted a small black kitten called Sinbad that he had found in Britain. Photographs have shown a black cat on piles of parachutes and jumping on the port wing of a P-47 Thunderbolt as Lt Christensen clambered aboard. Sinbad reportedly flew in the cockpit with him on many of his missions. In September 1944 when his tour of duty ended, Sinbad the Suffolk cat went with Christensen to the United States to live with his family and surprised them by producing kittens!


Our Dumb Friends League (Which would later become the Blue Cross) reported in 1943 that the Charlton kennels in London were in-fact an International Institution. There were animal guests from America, Canada, Norway, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and others. They were held in quarantine as part of the British war against rabies. The quarantine was funded by the Dumb Friends League.


A 1946 statement from the popular Hagenbeck Tierpark zoo in Hamburg which opened in 1907, described the daily requirements for seals. pelicans, etc as 80kg of fish a day. For the carnivores  it was 100kg but sadly it was not getting through. The Herbivorous animals had to make do on turnips and ruminants of acorns collected by Hamburg school children. Three hippos were starving and it was decided to ship them over to London as well as an elephant from Hanover Zoo.


In March 1965, military dogs were approved for use in the Vietnam War. By 17th July 40 teams had been deployed to three bases, Tan Son Hhut, Ben Hoa and Da Nang. This was only the beginning, by the end of the year there were 99 dogs in the country. By September 1966 there were more than 500 dogs deployed to ten bases. In the seventeen months between July 1965 and December 1966, not a single Viet Cong sapper team penetrated a base guarded by these brave sentry dogs. *Harold Holt was the Australian Prime Minister from 1966 – 1967, he backed intervention in Vietnam and sent Australian troops to fight there*


During WWII German fighter pilot Franz Stigler allowed a heavily damaged American B-17 to escape during a 1943 mission. The American bomber had finished a bombing raid over Bremen in Germany and had been badly damaged including injury to the crew. The Luftwaffe pilot had the opportunity to shoot down the crippled bomber but choice not to.

After an extensive search by American Bomber pilot Charlie Brown the two pilots met up with each other 46 years later. They developed a friendship that lasted until Stigler’s death in March 2008. Between 1990 and 2008 Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler became close friends and remained so until their deaths within several months of each other in 2008.  




GREMLIN: The term Gremlin denotes a mischievous creature that sabotages equipment causing electrical and/or mechanical failure. The word originated as Royal Air Force slang for unexpected/unknown failure in the 1920’s among British pilots stationed in Malta, India and the Middle East.

TABBY CAT : The word Tabby has its origins in a stripped cloth (often silk) that was produced in Attabiyah which was a neighbourhood of Baghdad back in the 14th century. Tabby began life as the Arabic word “attabi”.

HOOCH : This is a late 19th century abbreviation of Hoochinoo, the name of an Alaskian Indian people who made  illicit alcoholic. This name caught on as the liquor was a favourite with miners during the Klondike gold rush of 1898.

BIKINI: This is a fashionable women’s swimwear. It takes its name from the Bikini Atoll, the site of a nuclear test bomb, exploded in 1946 near the Marshall Islands in the Pacific.  When this garment arrived on the scene it was considered “explosive”. It was first modelled in Paris and according to its inventor “a bikini is not a bikini unless it can be pulled through a wedding ring.

CHOW CHOW : This is a breed of dog originating in northern China that spread to the rest of China some 2,000 years ago. The word Chow means “Puffy Lion Dog”, they also have a characteristic black/blue tongue.

MAELSTROM : This word is taken from the Dutch words MAALEN to “grind or whirl” and the word STROOM or “stream”. This described a mythical whirlpool in the Arctic Ocean, west of Norway. The word is used today to describe a violent, turbulent situation or a very powerful whirlpool such as the Corryvreckan Whirlpool north of the island of Jura in the inner Hebrides

LIDO : This is an Italian word for the “beach or shore”. It has been used in the English Dictionary since the late 17th century and can also mean a “public outdoor swimming pool”.

DALMATIAN : Described as a breed of large dog with short white hair and dark spots. The Dalmatian dog originated in Dalmatia in the 18th century, in a region along the eastern Adriatic coast in what is now Croatia.




Eating saturated fats raises the risk of early death through heart disease. A major study involving more than 80,000 women highlighted the health risks from a high fat intake. Saturated fats come from animals.

The Bible tells us in Leviticus Chapter 7 ,verses 22-24. And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, speak unto the children of Israel saying, “YOU SHALL EAT NO MANNER OF FAT, OF OX, OR OF SHEEP, OR OF GOAT”.

The American Heart Association says: The major kinds of fats in the foods we eat are Saturated, Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated, Trans Fatty Acids, Saturated Fats, Trans Fats  DIETARY CHOLESTEROL RAISES BLOOD CHOLESTEROL. A high level of Cholesterol in the blood is a major factor for Coronary Heart Disease which leads to Heart Attack.

In reference to Prostate Cancer a study by the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Centre stated that the 4th most common cause of Cancer among men may be related to Saturated Food Consumption. This health hazards caused by Saturated Fats were only known during the late 20th century yet the Bible was aware of this thousands of years ago.



According to Exodus Chapter 22 Verse 31 “ AND YE SHALL BE HOLY MEN UNTO ME : NEITHER SHALL YOU EAT ANY FLESH THAT IS TORN OF BEASTS IN THE FIELD. YOU SHALL CAST IT TO THE DOGS. Carrion is the name given to the putrefying decaying dead flesh of an animal. The concept of bacteria was never known until the great men of medicine during the 19th century yet a provision was in place in the bible at the time of Moses.


According to Leviticus Chapter 11 Verses 9-12. The Bible tells us we should avoid those sea creatures which do not have fins or scales. We have now come to know that the bottom-feeders (those without fins or scales) tend to consume waste and are likely to carry disease.



The following are genuine answers given by contestants on British TV and Radio shows.

Jamie Theakston: Where is Cambridge University ? Contestant : Oh geography isn’t my strong point. Jamie Theakston: There is a clue in the title. Contestant : Leicester.

Chris Searle (BBC Radio Bristol) : In what European country is Mount Etna ?

Contestant :Japan : Chris Searle : I did say a a European country, I can let you try again.

Contestant : Er…. Mexico.

Jeremy Paxman (University Challenge, BBC2) What is another name for “cherrypickers” and “cheesemongers” ? Contestant : Homosexuals. Paxman : No. They are regiments in the British Army, who will be very upset with you!

Richard Madeley ( Richard & Judy Show) : On which street did Sherlock Holmes live ?

Contestant : Err…  Richard : A clue, he makes bread : Contestant Er……  Richard :

A second Clue, He makes cakes. Contestant : Kipling Street. Answer was Baker Street.

Steve Le Fevre (biggest game in town ITV) What was signed to bring World War 1 to an end in 1918 ? Contestant : The Magna Carta. Answer Treaty of Versailles.

Melanie Sykes (The Vault) What name is given to the condition where the sufferer can fall asleep at any time? Contestant Nostalgia. Answer was Narcolepsy.

Lincs FM DJ: What is the name of the largest Spanish speaking country in the world?

Contestant : Barcelona.

GWR FM DJ: What happened in Dallas on November 22nd 1963? Contestant : I don’t know I wasn’t watching it then.

James O’ Brien, LBC : How many kings of England have been called Henry? Contestant : Er….. well , I know there was a Henry the Eighth Er…. Er…… Three.

Rock FM Presenter: Name a film starring Bob Hoskins that is also the name of a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci?: Contestant : Who framed Roger Rabbit.



And finally we have some genuine exchanges between Courtroom Lawyers and Witnesses.

Lawyer : Doctor before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse? Witness : No.

Lawyer : Did you check for blood pressure? Witness : No.

Lawyer : Did you check for breathing? Witness : No.

Lawyer :So it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy. Witness : No

Lawyer : How can you be so sure doctor?

Witness : Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

Lawyer : But could the patient have been still alive never the less.

Witness : yes, it is possible he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere!


Lawyer: Have you lived in this town all your life?

Witness : ( Not yet)


Lawyer : Did you say that this man was shot in the woods?

Witness : No, I said he was shot in the lumber region.


Lawyer :What gear were you in at the moment of impact?

Witness : Gucci sweats and Reeboks.



VALOUR  (2016)

DIESEL  (2016)

Diesel was a 7 year old Belgian Malinois dog who will receive a posthumous Dickin Medal for his courageous actions in the wake of the Paris attacks which killed 130 people. Diesel served with the French National Research, Assistance, Interventions and Deterrence Force also known as RAID. He died in a raid targeting the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks.

It was on the morning of Wednesday 18th November 2015, 5 days after the Paris attacks that the French services were involved in a security operation in the St-Denis suburbs. A 2 hour shoot-out ensued and tragically Diesel was shot
at 10am local time, pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds. His actions helped to protect human life in the face of imminent danger.

P.D.S.A director-general Jan McLoughlin was to say “Following the tragic terrorist events in Paris , Diesel was instrumental in helping the French police locate  and deal with the perpetrators. When news emerged of Diesels death  
there was a huge outpouring of grief from all around the world.

* Russia has gifted a German Shepherd puppy to France to take over the role of Diesel. He has been handed to the French ambassador in Moscow and is called Dobrynya who was previously living in a police unit in the Moscow area. He will travel to France as soon as the quarantine process is complete, *


LUCCA  (2016)

Lucca is a German Shepherd / Belgian Malinois dog who worked as a weapons detection dog in Iraq and Afghanistan. She served with British troops on 3 tours of Iraq and with U.S Marines in Afghanistan. She was on patrol for 400 missions over 6 years. Lucca sniffed out weapons and roadside bombs to help the troops including her handler Gunner Sergeant Chris Willingham. During her service there was no human casualties on her watch. On one operation in 2012 she successfully discovered a weapons cache hidden under a haystack. She also alerted troops to a 30lb pressure plate I.E.D, (Improvised Explosive Device) which was later cleared of danger.

 Not long after being sent out to sniff a nearby path, another bomb detonated underneath her. The blast ripped off her front left leg and caused severe burns to her chest neck and head. She was quickly given First Aid by then handler Cpl Juan Rodriguez and then taken back to the unit’s Medical Centre. She was then flown back to Germany, despite all this, it was only over a week before Lucca was back in action.

Gunner Sgt Willingham and Lucca made the long trek from California to Wellington Barracks, London for the presentation of the Dickin Medal for gallantry and devotion. *Lucca is the first U.S military dog to receive a Dickin Medal. She joins 9/11 Guide Dogs Salty and Roselle and Search & Rescue dog Appollo. (See heartstrings valour_ 1). * The Helmand Province is an area of Afghanistan that is littered with Improvised Explosive Devices. The insurgents have been known to disguise the devices under dead roadside animals.  * 


The criteria necessary for WWII British mousers to be given an allowance of powdered milk was strict. It only extended to those cats engaged in keeping down mice and rats in warehouses containing at least 250 tons of food or animal feed stuffs. As the war progressed the rules become more relaxed to include cats doing work of national importance which included keeping down the rats and mice population from bombed out areas. As the war progressed a powdered milk ration was available to cats, raising morale by just being themselves.

Sadly there were no bones for dogs during WWII as bones were an important part of the war effort for making aircraft glue and glycerine for explosives.


During the American Civil War, dogs were used as spy’s in hospital, carrying messages back and forth, they were also used to guard prisons. Despite bitter opposition, President A Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern Rebellion (Civil War) in 1868.


British P.O.W.’s in Germany during WWII used the heels of their rubber shoes to create fake German stamps. This was used to rubber stamp documents as a means to aid their escape from Germany.


Since September 1940 the British had been busy battling the Italian Army’s attempt to invade Egypt. The P.D.S.A. hospital in Cairo was full of dogs belonging to the Italians and had been stranded during the ebb and flow of the fighting. There were also numerous cats. The cinema in Cairo was popular with off duty British Troops partly because it was one of only a few air-conditioned buildings. Quite surprising to many was the ability to watch a crude form of 3D movies, wearing a coloured mask during the war years.

 The result of the Battle of El Alamein has been well documented but before it took place a British victory was not a certainty by any means. The British were told if Egypt falls to the Afrika Corp on no account let yourself be taken prisoner. Many men were prepared to use empty 45 litre drums to “raft it” down the Nile. There was one high ranking officer who had decided he was going to get away BEFORE the battle began. He had orderlies loading up his staff car however when he was ready to take off the next day he found that all 4 of his tyres had been slashed!

After the battle of El Alamein the German’s were very low on fuel and during the night they would return to their burnt out tanks, vehicles, etc to syphon whatever fuel they could find to keep them on the move. After the victory of El Alamein, Churchill ordered  that the church bells should ring out back in Britain. It was the first time British church bells rang since war was declared as it was primarily a signal of invasion by German forces.


 Injured Russian soldiers fighting the German’s on the front line during the siege of Lenningrad  were dragged back from danger on little sledges. The sledges were pulled by either Airedales or German Shepherd dogs.


In 1943 at the height of WWII British bank notes of 10 pound denomination or above, were withdrawn over fears Nazi counterfeits could destroy the economy.

The Cats Protection League was originally set up to inform and educate the general public, but was soon to grow into a charitable organisation. The Cats Mews Sheet was founded in 1931, changing its name to the Cat in 1934 with founder Jessey Wade as editor,  the news sheet continuing to this day. The organisation’s name and logo was changed in 1998 with the Cats Protection League shortened to Cat Protection.  


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


First Aid for wartime cats was mainly improvised. This 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. A rare treat/pick-me-up for a cat was a raw beaten egg which also acted as a coat-conditioner.


In the early part of the 20th Century tuberculosis or (TB) was a deadly scourge on the population, much like cancer is today. In Victorian times TB was known as consumption as the disease slowly “consumed” the lungs. The disease spread easily in the crowed damp conditions of the World War I trenches. TB was the leading cause of discharge for disability accounting for over 13 percent of all British servicemen at the Front. The flow of casualties was soon to overwhelm the existing UK medical facilities. Many civilian hospitals and large buildings were turned over to the military including pre-war mental asylums.

There was no effective drug treatment for TB until the 1950’s with the introduction of streptomycin although it was beginning to become available to troops during WWII . The early 20th century hospitals or sanatoriums advocated plenty rest and fresh air as a means of slowing the disease down and on occasions some were cured. Working class families in Britain were particularly susceptible to the disease as they tended to have large families living in cramped and often damp homes. The disease could easily spread from child to child. In the old Factories Acts going back to the early 20th Century it was stated that no SPITTING in the factories was ALLOWED .. This was done to stop the spread of TB through bloody sputem. Sadly TB is on the increase again due to the overuse of anti biotics and people not finishing their course. 


Many people believe it was only women who hurled themselves into wartime pet welfare/rescue. A London transport bus-driver Mr Arthur Heelas found feline fame in 1940-41 as the “fairy godfather” of the capitals bombed out cats. After his driving- shift was over he would be seen with scraps and left overs to feed the cats on various bombed out sites. * He was one of many I’m sure. *


A Labrador called Mable has become the first dog to undergo ground-breaking open heart surgery. She survived a 6 hour operation to correct valves in her heart that had been fused together since birth. The heart defect had been leaving the dog constantly tired. The operation was carried out by surgeons from the Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire.


The Kinder-Transport (1938-1940) was a rescue that took place during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children. They came from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Free City of Danzig. About half the children lived with foster families. The others stayed in hostels, schools or on farms throughout Great Britain.

In 2004 ,when the Iraq war was at its height, an American unit called the Hammers befriended a kitten born at their site. He played with them, kept their quarters rodent-free and acted as a significant morale booster. When the time came for the unit to leave Staff Sergeant Bousfield didn’t want to leave the cat behind, as he was regarded as one of their team.

With the help of American organisation ALLEY CAT ALLIES the leggy Egyptian Mau, known as Private First Class Hammer, was taken to Kuwait and then put on a flight to San Francisco. He was then flown first class to Colorado Springs where he met up with Rick Bousfield to start a different, mortar free life with the Bousfield’s and their various animals.


During WWII the Berlin dog magazine, Die Hundewelt, reported on a grand recruiting rally that had added 15,993 dogs to the Wehrmacht’s ranks.

According to Lt Col E.H. Richardson of the Royal Engineer dog training unit in Britain it was deemed that Airedales, Lurchers and Collies were excellent under fire in WWI trench conditions. Hounds however were regarded as poor and poodles considered too playful!


Due to the inaccuracy of celestial navigation for precise target location from a fast moving aircraft the Luftwaffe developed Hi Tec navigational aids. The Lorenz Beam was first used but had only a 30 mile range thus making it unsuitable for night time bombing raids. The system was later replaced by the Knickebein meaning  (crooked Leg) in German, which operated on an X & Y axis system. One beam was transmitted over the North Sea from the Danish border and another further south in France. German Bombers would attach themselves along either beam. When both beams converged an alarm would go off in the cockpit to say that they were over the “drop Zone” The British were baffled as to how the German’s were achieving such accurate bombing results.

In June 1940 a German prisoner of war was overheard boasting that the British would never find the Knickebein even though it was right under their noses. The details of this conversation was passed to RAF Air Staff Technician Dr R.V. Jones. He was to begin an in-depth investigation, flying up and down the country with a 30 MEGA HZ receiver. A beam was traced to Derby in the north of England.

The first jamming operations were carried out using requisitioned hospital electrical cauterising machines. This device managed to introduce a subtle form of distorsion to the signal. Just enough to take the beam away from heavy built up areas and onto much lesser populated rural areas. They took great pains to avoid the German’s knowing their system had been breached because the German’s would immediately scrap the Knickebein for a new better system, perhaps much harder for the British to decipher.


During the Napoleonic Wars over 100,000 French troops were captured by the British whilst only 50,000 British troops were captured by the French. The French troops were imprisoned in camps up and down the British mainland. At a camp set up on the Ardnamurchan peninsula on Scotland’s West coast the prisoners worked to mine lead, mostly for bullets for the British war effort.

During the prisoner’s spare time, some would build model warships out of old bones. It was said that the high number of captive soldiers played a part in the defeat of Napoleon by Wellington and the Allied armies. The battle of Waterloo was fought on 18th June 1815 . The news arrived in London by carrier pigeon, greeted by a nervous crowd, news of the victory was published in the London Gazette on 22nd June 1815.


During WWI British tanks were initially categorized into “males” & “females”. Male tanks had cannons whilst the female tanks had heavy machine guns. It was during WWII that the British used blow-up rubber tanks as decoys. They were designed to look like a U.S. Sherman tank and could easily be carried by 4 men. These inflatables were first deployed before the Normandy Landings in 1944 in an attempt to deceive the German Army.


In the Second World War, Salvation Army volunteers worked in mobile canteens to support troops in the battle zones across Europe. Salvationists worked in hospitals and also held services for allied prisoners in internment camps in Europe and the far East. During both World Wars the Salvation Army gave support to families affected by the bombings. They would be seen handing out clothing, blankets, food and tea from their mobile canteens. * The origins of the women’s bonnet was as a protection for the head from bands of organised hooligans who pelted the Salvationists with stones and rotten eggs. *


Homing pigeons were used extensively during both World Wars, perhaps more so during WWI. The French were to advance with SEVENTY TWO pigeon lofts at the battle of Marne alongside their troops. Due to the battle conditions of WWI the pigeon lofts had to be quick to respond and were thus made from reconditioned early 20th century buses, mainly horse-drawn to deal better with the battle field terrain.


Prefabs or (Prefabricated houses) played a major role in rehousing the homeless in Britain during the aftermath of WWII . There was a shortfall of housing stock and so the government went ahead with a plan to build 500,000 prefabricated houses. The war had left many homes destroyed and building materials were in short supply.

It was during the stormy winter of 1947 that the government changed to Pre-Cast, reinforced concrete, being quick to assemble. During this period 1.2 million new houses were built and 156,623 of these were prefabs. After the war many man hours were spent repairing ruptured gas supplies and electricity cables.



PYJAMAS : This word meaning night attire is taken from the Hindi word (paijaamaa) meaning leg garment.

TODDY: A toddy is usually a hot drink containing whisky taken to ward off the worst effects of colds or flu. The name originates in Hindi  meaning (tari), the juice of the Palmyra palm.

FIDO : This is a name given to a dog, it originated as a Latin word meaning “faithful one”.

DACHSHUND : This is a mix of the German words Dachs or badger and hund meaning dog. Originally the breed was known in Germany as Dachs Krieger or “badger warrior”

DEOCH-AN-DORUS : The expression is taken from the Scots Gaelic and means a drink at the door or “one for the road”

TROUSERS : Is also Scots Gaelic and is taken from the word “triubhas” sometimes shortened to “trews”

KARAOKE : This word means (non -professional singers performing without live bands). It originates from the Japanese word “kara” or empty, plus the word “okesutora” or orchestra. Therfore the word karaoke means “empty orchestra”. The word kara is also used in karate meaning empty handed combat.

BANDANNA : Is taken from the Hindi word “bandhna” meaning to tie.

CORGI : Is taken from the the Welsh word “cor” meaning dwarf plus the Welsh word “gi” meaning dog

NESS : Is an old Norse word meaning “headland”.

WIKI : As in Wikipeadia means “fast” and is taken from the Hawaiian language.

TOWSER : this word means a big dog.

MUTT :  A mutt is a word for a dog especially a mongrel. The term originated in America approximately from 1900 – 1905. The term was short for “muttonhead”.

TIDDLES : This common cat name is taken from the old English word “tid” meaning weak or tender. The word still exists today in “tidbit” or titbit. It comes from the verb tiddle meaning to treat with  tenderness.



Here we have some more genuine insurance claimants involving mainly pets and animals.

1.The claimant had collided with a cow. The questions and answers on the claim form were Question: What warning was given by you. Answer: Horn. What warning was given by the other party. Answer: Moo.

2. I pulled into a lay-by with smoke coming from under the hood. I realised the car was on fire so I took my dog and smothered it with a blanket.

3. I thought my window was down but I found it was up when I put my head through it.

4. I was on my way to the doctor with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.

5. Claim from 1955 :  I beg to tender a claim under our burglary policy. A burglar, in the shape of a great horrid tomcat entered our house by the window and stole our  canary (worth 1 pound). He quickly disappeared out the window and entirely demolished the poor bird in the coal cellar.

6. Claim Form Question : Could either driver done anything to avoid the accident?

Answer : Travelled by bus.

7. A frozen squirrel came crashing through the windscreen.

8. While proceeding through “Monkey Jungle” the vehicle was enveloped by small fat brown grinning monkeys. Number 3 monkey with buck teeth proceeded to swing in an anticlockwise direction on the radio aerial. Repeat requests to desist were ignored. Approximately 2min and 43 seconds later the small fat brown monkey disappeared into “Monkey Jungle” clutching radio aerial.

9. The guy was all over the road, I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.

10. A customer phoned to complain following the delivery of a curtain pole On finding no one at home the delivery man decided it would be possible to deliver the pole- through the letter box. When the customer returned they found their dog pinned against the far wall!   







Jimmy the sergeant was a donkey born in a First World War trench who saved soldiers lives on the battle field and who has recently been awarded a posthumous Dickin Medal for bravery in April 2012. Jimmy the Sergeant was born in France after a shell wounded his pregnant mother as she went into labour during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Troops of the Cameron Scottish Rifles brought the donkey up amid falling shells and gunfire on the frontline. Jimmy was weaned on tins of condensed milk. The troops all took a turn at keeping the young donkey warm and spending time with him.

Jimmy spent the next two years in the army, carrying equipment and soldiers, he was even taught to raise his hoof in salute with the troop of Cameronians. Jimmy also played an important role in keeping up the morale of the troops, even if it just acted as a distraction from the horror of what was around them. Jimmy was wounded 3 times by shell fire during his two years on the front line. He was given the title of honorary sergeant with 3 stripes on his bridle.

At the end of the war he was demobbed and in 1920 he was sold to a woman at a charity auction in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Throughout the next 23 years Jimmy would be ever present at a series of charity events, raising thousands of pounds for the RSPCA. After his death he was buried in Peterborough’s Central Park in 1943 and a monument erected. A mounted display at the Cameronians museum in Hamilton, Scotland assures Jimmy’s place in history is not forgotten.

* The key role of donkeys and horses during WWI was to take weapons and supplies to the frontline. At this time the motor car /lorry was at its early stage of development and was not versatile enough for the job in hand. Especially when trying to cross the muddy uneven terrain in France and Belgium. *

REX   (1945) UPDATE

Rex was a German Shepherd dog , who rescued casualties from burning buildings while working for the Civil Defence Service. He was awarded with a Dickin Medal for “Uncommon Valour” in April 1945. Rex was undaunted by smouldering debris,

thick smoke, intense heat and jets of water from fire hoses. This dog displayed uncanny intelligence and outstanding determination in his efforts to follow up any scent which led to a trapped casualty.

Rex was one of seven dogs that distinguished themselves during the London Blitz. The others were Rip, Thorn, Peter, Jet, Irma, and Beauty, known collectively as the Magnificent Seven. These dogs and their handlers would be out in force once more for the Victory Parade in London  in June 1946 representing the Civil Defence Section.

* During WWII the Cat Magazine revived an old recipe from the first World War. It was called a “Good Solid Pudding” made from table scraps mashed up with Marmite liquid and baked for an hour  in a pie dish to make a nutritious cake. Many dogs during WWII were getting by on potato peelings and offal or sometimes oatmeal and offal. *


Strange But True

The Royal British Legion was formed in 1921, they ordered 9 million poppies which were sold on 11th November that year. The poppies sold out immediately on that first ever “Poppy Appeal” raising over 106,000 Pounds which was a lot of money at that time. The money was used to help WWI veterans with employment, housing and various social needs. Throughout Britain poppy factories were set up with the poppies being made by disabled ex-servicemen.


In the 19th century dentures were known as “Waterloo teeth” because many of them were made from teeth taken from dead soldiers. They were removed after battles such as Waterloo where the British defeated the French in 1815.



Wojtek the Bear (1942 - 1963) 

Wojtek spelled “Voytek” in English was a Syrian Brown Bear cub found in Iran and adopted by soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps. As a bear less that a year old he initially had problems swallowing and was fed with condensed milk from an empty vodka bottle. His favourite foods were fruit, marmalade, honey and syrup. He was often rewarded with beer which became his favourite drink. He enjoyed wrestling with the men and they taught him how to salute when greeted.   The name Wojciech is an old Slavic word meaning “joyful warrior”. His rank was first private and later he was promoted to corporal as well as being the Company mascot.

He was to fight alongside the British 8th Army at the battle of Monte Casino in Italy. Wojtek helped by transporting ammunition, never dropping a single crate. In 1947 Wojtek was given to the zoo in Edinburgh where he spent the rest of his days. He would often be visited by journalists and former Polish soldiers and he was a frequent guest on BBC’s Blue Peter programme. There are plaques and statues of this famous bear all over the world.


The BBC Radio 4, Shipping Forecast first began in 1924 as an aid to British shipping around the British Isles. The forecast mentions 31 sea areas that are all named after sandbanks. Broadcasts of the Shipping Forecast were halted during WWII to avoid helping enemy ships.


Bing the Dickin Medal winning Para dog was awarded his medal for service in France and Germany during WWII. Lesser known about Bing was that one day in Germany everyone was suffering a terrible thirst. Bing managed to squeeze under a barn door where there was a drip tray, Bing drank the lot not realising it was a drip tray for a barrel of white wine, Bing was sloshed and wobbling all over the place! Bing was one of two Para-Dogs that were parachuted into Germany, the other was also a German Shepherd called Monty.


Singer and composer Ivor Novello moved with his family from Wales to London in 1914. He became an overnight celebrity after composing the patriotic WWI favourite, “Keep the Home Fires Burning.”. Some years later however Ivor’s fortunes took a tumble when during WWII 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.

The Leaving of Liverpool 

Just before the beginning of the Liverpool WWII Blitz a very weird and sureal event took place in the city of Liverpool. While Liverpool was still peaceful there began a mass exodus of cats from the city. They never rushed but walked slowly in single file with other cats joining the group along the way. For those who can remember the event, they described it, as if the cats were being led by an invisible pied piper. The cats kept walking until they were on rural farm land. On 1st until the 7th May 1941 Liverpool took a hammering from the Luftwaffe with areas of the city completely destroyed. It was the worst pounding a British city was to receive outside of London. Perhaps the cats were trying to warn us by their actions?


Thousands of people died in road accidents during the blackout, this was due to the lack of street lighting and the dimming of traffic lights and car lights. To help prevent accidents, white stripes were painted on the roads and on lamp posts. People were encouraged to walk “with” traffic and men were advised to leave their shirt-tails hanging out. This was to help be seen by cars with dimmed headlights.


During WWII the duties of a Fire-Watcher was not to look out for fires but to look out for incendiaries and extinguish them before a fire could take hold. A law passed in September 1940 requiring all factories and businesses to appoint employees to watch for incendiary bombs outside of waking hours. Incendiary bombs were quite small and  were dropped in hundreds at a time. On impact they ignited and burned.


German Bombers dropped over 222 bombs on the County of Caithness during WWII. The first bombs fell in July 1940, before the London Blitz began. This time period was known as the “Phoney War”. Wick was attacked six times suffering aerial  machine gun attacks also. Caithness was suffering due to it’s close proximity to the main British Naval base at Scapa Flow.

In 1940 the decision was made to build a Radar base (Early Warning) at Dunnet Head 10 miles approx east of Thurso on a vantage point called Burifa Hill. This early warning station was used to plot enemy aircraft, surface vessels and U-boat movements through the Pentland Firth and beyond. This would be invaluable for the Scapa Flow base and for the Murmansk Convoys heading north. It also gave warning to the regular sailing of troops and supplies heading to Orkney from the Thurso port of Scrabster.

*By the end of the war Caithness had 5 airfields, including one emergency landing ground.*



The Reivers 

Border Reivers were raiders along the Scots / English border from the late 13th Century unto the beginning of the 17th Century. Their ranks consisted of both Scottish and English families. English raiders were known to of raided as far north as the outskirts of Edinburgh whilst the Scots raiders went as far south as Yorkshire. The main raiding season ran from the early winter months when the nights were at their longest and the cattle and horses fat from having spent the summer grazing.

The authorities would attempt to hunt them down using a “slew dogge” or sleuth hound. The Reivers rode hardy nags or ponies renowned for their ability to pick  their way over the boggy moss land. When King James VI came to the throne he was determined to end the cross border raiding and the Reivers were banished to Ulster where they became known as Ulster Scots.

Over the years many of these ex-Reivers emigrated to America where they were known as Scots/Irish. Some prominent ex-Reivers include: Neil Armstrong, First man on the Moon ; Davie Crockett ,Frontiers man. Samuel Morse, Morse Code : Woodrow Wilson, President ; Ulysses Grant, President : “Mark Twain”, Author, & Stephen Foster, Songwriter to name but a few. The word Bereaved originated with the Reivers. To be Bereaved means a loss or to be deprived of someone or something of value.


Arriving at the 100 year anniversary of the First World War we see lots of stories and war footage. However what we don’t see is any acknowledgement of the thousands of servicemen who lost their sanity during the horrors of WWI. For them the war never ended in 1918 but was ever present during their life in Mental Asylums up and down the country. There were around 100 Asylum cemeteries where these men were buried and have lain forgotten. Perhaps its time that these men were recognised, after all, don’t they say NO MAN LEFT BEHIND.

A simple eye test developed by Aberdeen University academics could help give an accurate diagnoses for mental health disorders. The test uses specialist cameras to measure eye movement patterns. Early results suggest it is effective in detecting disorders such as Schizophrenia, Bi Polar disorder and Depression. Researchers are hoping that it could also detect Personality Problems and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.


In 1942 the Allied forces were losing a considerable amount of merchant shipping in the Atlantic Ocean. This was due to German U-Boat attacks and the lack of adequate air cover in the mid Atlantic. The allies began a research programme known as Habbakuk to manufacture icebergs for use as aircraft carriers. The project had many advantages but technical problems and spiralling costs resulted in the project being abandoned.

In Great Britain clothes rationing began in June 1941, supplies from the far east such as silk had also “dried up” due to the hazardous shipping lanes. However opportunities presented themselves in the form of downed enemy pilots. As soon as the word got out of a downed pilot all the women in the area, scissors in hand would seek out the location and start cutting up the silk parachute. This was for making underwear, night clothes and with the help of a good seamstress even a wedding dress.


 Trakr (1994-2009) was a German Shepherd police dog who along with his handler, Canadian police officer James Symington discovered the last survivor of the September 11th World Trade Centre attacks. Trakr was named one of history’s most heroic animals in Time magazine. Symington and Trakr had been watching the search and rescue operations in New York City on TV and decided to drive the 15 hours from Prospect Bay, Nova Scotia. They were to find the last survivor but by the 14th Trakr collapsed from chemical and smoke inhalation, burns and exhaustion. Trakr was treated with intravenous fluids and the next day they returned home to Canada.



THRESHOLD : When people get married we often hear of the bride being carried over the threshold. This term originates way back in time when many people had just a dirt floor in their home, hence the saying DIRT POOR. However the wealthy would have slate floors but they were inclined to get slippery  in the winter when wet. To combat this they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As winter wore on  they added more thresh until when you opened the door the thresh would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed at the door entrance to keep the thresh inside, hence the word threshold.

MIND YOUR OWN BEE’S WAX! : This term means to mind your own business. In Century’s gone by our ancestors personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result  many women and men had developed acne scars and other blemishes by adult hood. The women would melt beeswax and spread it on their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. If two woman were talking and one woman began to stare at other woman’s face she would be told to mind your own bee’s wax!

WHIPPERSNAPPER : In 17th Century England, young ne’er-do-wells would hang around street corners, much as they do now. However back then they would be seen idly flicking a horsewhip just to pass the time. Thus whippersnapper became a derogatory word for these youths.

SHAMBLES : We look at the word shambles or shambolic as something which is a  mess, untidy or disorganised. In Centuries gone by  a Shamble was a bench that was set up by butchers to sell meat to the public from the butcher’s doorway or at street markets. In time the street where the meat was sold was known as the shambles. The butchers would feed offal to stray and hungry dogs from these benches resulting in the street having a messy, untidy presence. The term Shambles still lives on in English towns the most famous being the Shambles in York.

FORTNIGHT : We look at the word Fortnight to mean a two week period perhaps to explain the length of your summer holiday. The origins of the word dates back to the time of Hadrian’s Wall, built to guard the Romans northern English border against the Scots. The wall had forts situated at regular intervals along its length. Every two weeks the soldiers were allowed to rest from the elements and got to sleep inside the forts. Hence came the term a fortnight.


SANTA CLAUS is taken from the Dutch word SINTERKLASS.

OMBUDSMAN is originally old Norse / Swedish meaning a representative, steward or commissary.

YULE is the name of a feast held at the time of the winter solstice, taken from Old Norse.

LITMUS, Litmus paper is used to check if a liquid is acid or alkali according to any change in colour of the paper when in contact with the liquid. The origin of the word is Old Norse and is taken from Litmose - lichen for dying and Lita means to stain.

BAIRN is an Old Norse Word meaning child.

SAGO is a starch based cereal obtained from the powdered tith of a sago palm. It’s use in puddings is known as early as the 15 Century. The word is taken from the Malay word SAGU.

TALC as in talcum powder was originally a Persian word TALK, “ TALC”

SHIH TZU as in the little dog has Mandarin origins and means Chinese Lion.

MOGUL this word is taken from Hindi and Urdu and it means an acknowledged leader in his field. The word is taken from the Mughal rulers of India the likes of Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal. We tend to think of Moguls as Movie Moguls who are rich and famous individuals in the film industry.

GYMKHANA is taken from the Persian word Khana meaning a meet or a festival of sports contests with horseback riding.

PUNCH as in the drink punch came from the Hindi and Urdu. The word punch means five because the drink was originally made with five ingredients. Alcohol, Sugar, Lemon, Water and tea or spices. The original drink was named Paantsch.

COMMANDO : This word originated with the Boers of South Africa, KOMMANDO describes a mounted infantry unit raised to retrieve stolen livestock.



Many people are under the false impression that dinosaurs and other extinct animals lived millions of years ago. When you listen to the news or read a newspaper you also hear of human skulls being dug up that are supposed to be 500,000 years old or the like. These skulls we are told come from Africa, the so-called cradle of civilisation.

Dating techniques such as carbon dating have been with us for a while but Carbon dating methods can be seriously flawed. Radiocarbon measurements are calibrated against old tree ring numbers, they assume a tree grows one ring a year. This doesn’t allow for years with multiple ring growth or times of flooding with no ring growth.

Living trees only date back a few thousand years, nothing is known beyond that point. Also Radio-active measurements are based on the assumption that atmospheric Carbon 14 concentration has remained constant. It is anything but constant and can be effected by Fossil Fuel Burning, Nuclear Testing, The Earths Geomagnetic changes and a reduction in the Suns Solar Winds. Also what many people do not realise is that Carbon Dating is only accurate up to a few thousand years.

The trouble with scientists is that they have a preconceived notion of evolution so they ignore any other evidence that doesn’t suit their argument .A description of Dinosaurs have been mentioned in the Bible twice ; (Behemoth) Job 40 verses 15-24 and (Leviathan) Job 41verses 1-34.It has become clear from American fossil print research that dinosaurs and humans co-existed. Also Africa is not the Cradle of civilization, 90 % of all human remains, artefacts and evidence of past civilizations are found in the Middle East. Turkey, Greece and Northern Egypt. The Bible location of the Garden of Eden is in Northern Iraq, Genesis 2 verses 8-14, (Euphrates River).

So what of Evolution and the Missing link? Well of all these skulls that are being dug up in Africa that are supposedly 500,000 years old yet no one is shouting that it’s the missing link, strange? Here are some missing links for you to make up your own mind. PILTDOWN MAN when this skull was found in England not surprising  England was to become the “cradle of civilization” however Piltdown Man was a hoax despite being regarded as the missing link between humans and apes. The hoax comprised of a lower jawbone of an orang-utan deliberately combined with the cranium of a human. It took 40 years for this find to be exposed as a forgery.

NEBRASKA MAN : This was also a hoax although not deliberately however the whole “find” was concocted from a single tooth. In later examination it turned out to be a pigs tooth!

NEANDERTHAL MAN : was seen by the establishment to be a moronic dumb-downed version of man. Evidence from mitochondrial DNA studies has been interpreted as evidence Neanderthals were not a sub-species. Some of the oldest languages known to man are considered more complex than modern languages.

JAVA MAN : was considered a tremendous find in Java in 1891 it was billed as an upright walking ape but it quickly fell from grace as even the scientific lobby judged it to be nothing more than an ape. Of the few finds of supposed missing links they tend to be apes or humans but never a mixture. Evolutionists never take into account the fact that skulls can be deformed our diseased. The sad thing about these discoveries is that no sooner that these finds were unearthed a artist/had painted these big hairy man apes.  Over the years this notion has been fed to impressionable young minds in schools.

The concept of cavemen is also thought to be dated 100.000’s of years ago, we see paintings on the cave wall perhaps with a photo of a now extinct mammoth and  humans wearing animal skins. The Bible tells us there were cavemen in biblical times Job 30 verse 6 and Job 30 verse 8. These verses talk about outcasts of a tribe or community living in caves and the cleft of rocks. Again we can’t say when Mammoths became extinct but its quite feasible it was less than 6,000 years. John the Baptist the cousin of Jesus also lived in a cave, West of Jerusalem just 2,000 ago.

If you look at the many ships that found new lands over the Centuries their first job would be to drag/lift the boat beyond the high tide mark. The crew and passengers would then take refuge in the caves until the area was checked out for water, arable land and the absence of aggressive locals. If you think living in a cave is hard, well its like a first class hotel compared to crossing the North Atlantic in an open boat. As late as the 20th Century tinkers used to live in caves during the summer months. They used to be beachcombers checking for useful materials along the costal areas of Scotland.


More Food For Thought

Mankind’s progress is well documented during the last 6,000 years and we have managed to progress from MUD BRICKS to A MAN ON THE MOON. Surely if we began 500,000 years ago we should of progressed to that point by 494,000 B.C. way sooner.

It has been said that if the USA never wasted money on the space race but used it for medical research, Cancer would have been cured by 1975.

Evolutionists say it took 350,000 years for man to migrate from Africa to Europe and Asia. Don’t they watch the TV I’ve seen them do it in less than 35days!

According to evolution and the “survival of the fittest” why did the “inferior” apes not all die off with the arrival of superior man.

Evolutionists believe that there is no Creator and no pre-existing matter. They say the that the Universe began around 13 million years ago with a Big Bang of a concentrated source of energy. How could they claim an energy source if nothing pre-existed? They say there was a big explosion yet there in no life on other planets. If you have the misfortune to watch an explosion on TV it is never orderly but a random mess. The universe is in complete harmony with other planets, orbits and gravitational pulls you could set your watch to it.  Evolution and The Big Bang are both THEORY’S, they are NOT FACTS. The word theory comes from the original Greek meaning CONTEMPLATION, SPECULATION.



I’ve listed some genuine LATE RENT PAYMENT EXCUSES taken from several websites.



MY PET GOLDFISH DIED, we had him many years.

I WAS ATTENDING A FAMILY FUNERAL, I was asked to take a cord so I didn’t want to leave abruptly.



I MAILED YOU THE MONEY, it must have got mailed to the wrong address.

I HAD A FLAT TYRE and I couldn’t walk to the Rent Office. I can only walk as far as Aldi’s,  any further and  I start getting dizzy and my left foot starts to drag.

YOU MADE US REPLACE THE WINDOWS THAT WE BROKE so I didn’t have any money left.


THE DOG CHEWED UP THE RENT BOOK It would be pointless giving me another rent book until I train the dog to stop chewing them. My dog is quite an old dog.

And finally :



A plate of fish, a cosy lap

Perhaps a lick of cream

To sit and purr before the fire

Well even cats can dream!


I’ve never had a proper home

No door has opened wide

Or friendly voice called out to me

Come on puss, come inside.


But now maybe I’ve found a friend

Though I’m not really sure,

I dare not eat the food she brings

Until she’s closed the door.


But there’s a nice big wooden box

Put just inside the shed.

With cosy blanket tucked well in

To make a lovely bed.


Tomorrow I shall take my chance

(She seems so nice and kind)

To get myself inside the door

And leave the dark behind.


That friendly fire I’ll sit beside

My lonely days all past

A real belonging cat I’ll be

And have a home at last.


But there are other lonely ones

Who ask themselves “Why me”

If only they would have my luck

What a Christmas it would be!



As we have no Dickin Medal recipients of late, here are a couple of very brave individuals from different era‘s.   


CHER AMI  (? -- 1919)

Cher Ami was a registered Blue Check carrier pigeon and the name Cher Ami means “dear friend” in French. She was donated to the US Army Signal Corps by British pigeon fanciers. She helped to save the lost battalion of the 77th Division in the Battle of the Argonne in October 1918. On 3rd October 1918  500 allied soldiers were trapped in a small depression on the side of a hill without food or ammunition.

They were under attack from German troops yet they couldn’t leave the hillside because they were also being hit by “friendly fire”. On the second day the number of men left had dropped from 500 to 194.At this point 2 carrier pigeons were released at different times but they were both shot down. The only homing pigeon left was Cher Ami and a note was placed in a canister on her left leg. The note read, “ We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven sake stop” .

As the pigeon flew away she was shot down but managed to take flight again. She arrived at Divisional HQ 25 miles behind the lines in just 25 minutes. Cher Ami delivered the message despite being shot in the breast, blinded in one eye, covered in blood and had a leg hanging by just a tendon. Her actions had helped to save the life of the 194 remaining troops and she became a hero of the 77th Division  with army medics working long and hard to save her life. They managed to save Cher Ami but could not save the damaged leg, a small wooden leg was made for her, carved from wood. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre medal with a palm oak leaf cluster for her heroic deeds. Cher Ami died at Fort Monmouth N.J on 13th June 1919 and was inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931.

* The Croix de Guerre which translates as (cross of war) is a military decoration of France. It is only awarded for exceptional heroic deeds to military forces Allied to France. The medal was first introduced in 1915. * 

ZANJEER / GINGER  (1992 - 2,000)

Zanjeer was a male Labrador Retriever sometimes known as ginger due to his coat colour. He was born on the 7th January 1992 and he served as a detection dog with the Mumbai Police in the Maharashtra state of India. He was trained at the Dog Training Centre of the Criminal Investigation Dept in Pune, India. In December 1992 he joined the Mumbai Police Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad.

During the time of the March 1993 Mumbai bombings, Zangeer helped to avert at least 3 more attacks in Bombay, Mumbra and Thane. He first alerted his handler to a scooter bomb on Dhanji Street that contained RDX explosives and gelignite sticks. He was then called to the scene of 10 unclaimed suitcases outside of the Siddhivinayak temple. Zanjeer went on to detect, Type 56 rifles. 5: 9mm pistols and 200 grenades and days later he also investigated 2 suitcases at the Zaveri Bazaar that contained 9: Type 56 rifles.

Along with his handlers, Ganesh Andale & V.G. Rajput this amazing dog went on to recover 11milatary bombs, 57 homemade bombs, 175 petrol bombs and 600 detonators during his distinguish career. Sadly Zanjeer developed bone cancer and died on 16th November 2,000. He was buried with full state honours.

* Sniffer / Detection dogs in India are being increasingly used in Wildlife Protection. They have been instrumental in a number of Wildlife investigations and prosecutions in the country. Illegal Wildlife trade is sadly the 4th largest in value worldwide after Narcotics, Arms Trade and Human Trafficking. *  

Valour Strange But True 2015 

The Royal Observer Corps was created to detect, track and report aircraft movements over Britain. It was awarded the “Royal” title by King George VI in 1941 in recognition of it’s valiant work during the Battle of Britain. The  Observer Corps volunteers provided RAF Fighter Command with the numbers, type and height of incoming enemy aircraft.


During WWII the 13th (Lancaster) Parachute Battalion started an adventurous experiment as it prepared for D-Day by enlisting dogs into their ranks. The so called “Para-Dogs” were specifically trained to perform tasks such as locating mines, keeping watch and warning about enemy presence. As a side job they also served as mascots and companions for the 2 legged troops.

The British War Office made radio appeals for dog owners to lend their pets to the War Office. Training on the ground would last 2 months then all suitable dogs would learn parachute training. As part of their training they would be placed inside an aircraft whilst on the ground with the engines running. Mock battles were organized to get the dogs accustomed to flashing lights and noise. They also had to handle booby traps and how to continue to work if his handler was killed in battle.

Ranee was a German Shepherd dog had the distinction of being the only female parachuting dog in the war. Bing formally known as Brian was attached to the 13th Battalion Airborne Division, he was deployed for use in Early Warning and Mine Sweeping duties. He was dropped over Normandy during the D-Day landings and as the allies progressed towards Germany he was dropped once again over the river Rhine. He was awarded the Dickin Medal on 29th March 1947. (see Valour 1)


During the Blitz from Sept 1940 - 41 Arsenal and Tottenham football clubs had been sharing Spurs’s White Heart 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 Heart Lane was closed, it had been commandeered as a mortuary for bomb victims.

Exeter City’s, St James Park became a training park for US Troops whilst Preston’s Deepdale and Swindon’s County Ground were used as POW camps. Many football clubs suffered bomb damage especially West Ham’s Upton Park and Millwall’s Den.

Forthbank Park was home to Kings Park FC until early into 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 it’s name to Stirling Albion in 1945 and took up residence at Annfield Stadium. 


In the world of Football Mascots we have Bears and Beagles and Cats and Canaries to name just a few but what football club can claim to have the fastest mascot? That distinction belongs to Corky the Cheetah, the Cork City Mascot and the teams biggest fan. Corky is arguably the most popular signing made by the club. Corky changes into his personalised Cork City team kit an hour before kick off. His cheeky antics also means he has gained a growing and very dedicated following ever since. A warning though, his teeth are sharper than they look and there has been reports of sausage stealing from the match day caterers!


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


Chibbley was the name of the Ships Cat aboard the tall ship Picton Castle. She was rescued from an animal shelter and went on to circumnavigate the world 5 times. The Picton Castle’s role as a training ship meant that Chibbley was introduced to a large number of visitors. She became a celebrity in her own right, receiving her own fan mail. She died on 10th Nov 2011, in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, she had sailed over 180,000 miles at sea.


In Berlin during the last days of the 3rd Reich it was very difficult for Hitler to get any information on the advancing Russian Army. His staff were reduced to checking  addresses on the outskirts of the city from the Berlin Phone Book. They would then ring them up to hear if the occupant spoke German or Russian.


After Chief Sitting Bull’s victory over General Custer at Little Big Horn in 1876, the Sioux Indian leader fled to Canada. Five years later he returned to America and was duly arrested and jailed for 2 years. After his release he spent several years performing with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show but his people’s hunger and suffering drove him to join the new Ghost Dance cult. This cult was dedicated to destroying the whites and restoring the Indian’s vanished world. The government sent troops in 1890 to arrest the Sioux leaders and suppress the cult. Sitting Bull was shot and died in the skirmish that followed, he was 69.


Terfel the dog lives in Wales and as he aged his eyes had become blurred by cataracts. Eventually he became completely blind and was having a hard time adjusting. He walked into walls and became afraid to move around the house or garden.

When his owner invited a stray cat into her home it was like an answer to a prayer. The new cat called Pwditat immediately became a guide for Terfel. The cat used her paws to guide Terfel around the house and even into the garden for some fresh air. The 2 animals became inseparable and even sleep together.


During the Blitz, in one six month period 750,000 tons of bombsite rubble from London was transported by railway on 1,700 freight trains. The rubble was used to construct additional runways on RAF Bomber Command’s airfields in East Anglia. Bombsite rubble from Birmingham was used to make additional runways on US Air Force bases in Kent and Essex.


Dundee was an important centre for the linen industry in the 18th and early 19th centuries, using flax shipped in from the Baltic. During the Napoleonic Wars there was a huge demand for Dundee - manufactured sailcloth and hammocks for the Royal Navy. In the archives at Dundee University is a piece of sailcloth from Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship the “Victory” on which he died during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.


Before the outbreak of WWII a memorandum for Vets and the SSPCA was circulated. It encouraged everyone to wear their gas mask so as their pets would get used to the “ghoulish appearance of their owners and recognize their muffled voices”! By July 1938, 35 Million gas masks were made available in anticipation of WWII.


During WWII when Americans were fighting in the Ardennes, the winter was so severe that the medics had to carry the ampoules of morphine in their underwear to prevent the liquid freezing.

In the Pacific fighting of WWII the Japanese soldiers had no respect for the Red Cross. Army medics wearing the red cross on their helmet were routinely fired on by Japanese snipers. The medics eventually painted  over the red cross to draw less attention.


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 in to a sealed structure. Candles were used to check the oxygen depletion, as the candles at chin level started to flicker it was time to evacuate the bunker, bombs or no bombs. Underground travel increased  during the war as cars were used less,  however on 25th April the U-Bahn ground to a halt when the power station supplying the network failed.

In the main air- raid shelters in German cities, each shelter contained a sterile medically equipped room with a nurse. This was used for women who went into labour during allied air-raids. Childbirth was often accelerated by the vibrations and stress from the bombing raids.


In order to lure German Bombers away from their targets throughout 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 sites. Red lamps were used to simulate blast furnaces and locomotive fire-boxes. Reflection of these lights were made by placing the lights under angled wooden panels. Carbon arc lights were used to simulate the flash of tram cables.


The Hussars were a dazzling, colourful cavalry regiment that originated in Hungary in 1458 to fight against the Turks. They were mounted on small fleet-footed horses gaining a reputation for speed, scouting and swift striking attacks. The horses were also colourfully dressed. Other nations impressed by these Hungarian horsemen went on to form their own Hussar Regiments, by the early 19th century every European Army had its own regiment. The name “hussar” comes from the Hungarian word “husz” meaning 20 because the Hungarian King decreed that every 20th family had to provide an able-bodied fighting man for the new force.


BBC Television at Alexandra Palace shut down at 12.35pm on Friday 1st September 1939. The last programme to be screened was Mickey’s Gala Premier by Disney. A pre-war television cost 100 pounds approx. It was believed only 250 television sets were in use in pre war London. Television inventor John Logie Baird also carried out research into early radar and fibre optics.

The breakthrough  in Radar research came during the early years of the war by a research team led by Robert Watson-Watt from Brechin in Angus. Radar gave the British a big advantage in locating enemy air, sea and sub-sea activity.


The commander of the U-boats, Admiral Karl Donitz was said to be a great dog lover. On his return home, his first greeting was always for the family dog, a little Spitz called “Purzel”. (The German Spitz is like a larger version of the Pomeranian dog, most commonly with a snow-white fluffy coat). 


The British began the First World War with just one war dog! It took a civilian dog breeder Edwin H Richardson to convince the military establishment of the value of using dogs. Richardson who had wrote an article on the subject in 1911 had previously trained and supplied ambulance dogs for the Russian army during the Russian-Japan war of 1904. He managed to convince the British War Dept who gave him the task of starting the British War Dog School. He began training Sentry and Patrol dogs in autumn 1914 using mainly Airedales and farm Collies.


Leading up to D-Day the personnel aboard all the British ships in the area kindly gave up their daily egg ration/allocation to give to the troops crossing over to France. It was hoped they would get a good meal before the beginning of D-Day.

In Britain the rationing of sweets only came to an end in April 1949, it was briefly reintroduced 4 months later due to unsustainable demand! 


The SS Thurso was a cargo steam ship operated by the Ellerman’s Wilson line. She was built in 1919 in Sunderland by S.P. Austin & Sons with a 2,436 tonnage. During WWII she had a crew of 36 with 6 gunners on board. She arrived in Lisbon harbour to pick up 850 tons of cork, general cargo and many mail bags full of letters for German POW’s in Britain. (The letters must of found their way through “neutral” Spain and Portugal. Cork was used during the war in great quantities for bomber planes, engine  gaskets and bottle stoppers in pre- plastic Britain).

The SS Thurso was part of Convoy HG84 which left Lisbon for Gibraltar on 9th June 1942 to join up with the 36th Escort Group. Two important jobs needed to be done before they set sail. The first was to ensure that all important books and documents were  placed in a sealed bag, “weighted down” and kept in the radio room. This was to ensure that, if the ship was sunk the documents remained at the bottom of the ocean and not in the hands of any U-Boat Patrols. The second job that had to be done was the degaussin of the ships. A ship being metal will pick up a strengthening magnetic field over time, this magnetic field, if strong enough will trigger enemy mines. The degaussing process was achieved by taking a “electrically charged cable, known as a degaussing belt around a large section of the ship.

As the convey was making it’s way home all was quiet until there was a warning of U-Boat activity in the vicinity. At 1am on June 15th the Second Officer reported that the Norwegian tanker Slemdal had been torpedoed on the starboard side. The convoy was now 300 nautical miles to the west of Cape Finisterre. The U-Boat Captain Erich Topp fired 3 torpedoes at the convoy at 4.32 and 4.44 am. The SS Thurso was sailing in the middle of the convoy when she literally exploded, resembling a great  white, blazing ball of fire. Apart from the SS Thurso the SS City of Oxford was also sunk that night.

The lifeboats were launched before 5am with the ship sinking by the stern at 6am. The survivors were picked up by the Corvette HMS Marigold. The 13 of the SS Thurso’s crew that were lost were in the accommodation area, 22 crew and the 6 gunners survived and were finally put ashore in Greenock.

* In WWI close to 14,661 Merchant Seamen lost their life keeping Great Britain supplied with food, fuel and raw materials to keep this country alive. *

* In WWII close to 32,000 Merchant Seaman lost their life, without their efforts there would never of been the fuel to launch the Battle Of Britain or keep the wheels of industry turning. *

The Greatest Generation. 


SAVING OR LOSING FACE : The noble ladies and gentlemen of the late 1700’s wore a great deal of make-up to impress each other. If they sat too close to the heat of the fireplace, the makeup would melt and the person would “lose face”.

WORTH AN ARM AND A LEG : In times gone by a portrait painter would charge more if he had to additionally paint the arms and legs of his subject.

A SHINDIG : North Carolina is known as the Square Dance capital of the world. The term shindig comes from the fact that many rookies who tried to square dance ended up swinging there feet wildly. This often resulted in them “digging the shins” of there partner or other dancers. This type of “come one come all” dance became known as a Shindig.

THE DEVILS PORRIDGE : During the First World War Britain had a shell shortage so in 1915 a massive cordite factory was built at Gretna close to the Scottish / English border. The term the devils porridge comes from the volatile chemicals they worked with, guncotton and nitro-glycerine which had the colour and texture of porridge.


COOTIES : taken from the Malayian word Kutu meaning lice.

PUSS : This word originated in early 16th century from the Dutch word poes or German word puus which was a pet name for a cat.

HAVER or HAIVER : means to talk nonsense, used in dialects of Scots and N. England.

CHUTNEY : Originated in the Hindi word chatni meaning to crush.

CHINDITS : This was the name given to an Allied Special Force that fought behind enemy lines in north Burma during 1943 - 1944. The word Chindit is a corruption of the Burmese word for (winged stone lion)

FIRTH : Is a name given to coastal or estuary waters around Scotland, i.e. Firth of Forth or Moray Firth. It’s name is derived  from the old Icelandic word Fjordic meaning Fjord.

BICKER : This word is taken from the old Dutch word meaning to slash, attack.

KETCHUP : Originated from the Malayian word kechap which means a fish sauce.

SHEBEEN : Originated in Ireland from the word sibin meaning a “mug-full” or an unlicensed house selling alcohol.

GEYSER : This word comes from the old Norse word geysa meaning to gush.

SCORE: Is another old Norse word, skor meaning twenty.

SORBET : A sorbet is a frozen desert made with sweetened water and flavouring. Lemon Sorbet is used to clear the taste-buds as a palate cleanser between food courses. Derived from the Urdu word sharbat which comes from the Arabic, meaning juice.

COACH : This word was taken from the word kocsi meaning a horse drawn wagon with springs above the axles. Named after the village of Kocs in Hungary where this vehicle was invented.

KLUTZ : This word means a clumsy person and originated with the Yiddish word klots meaning a wooden beam.

ABSEIL : Derived from the German word, sich abseilen. Seil means to rope. Sich means oneself and ab means down. 


Air Has Weight

The Bible mentions in  (Job 28:25) that air has a weight. Around 3,000 years ago Job declared there was “a weight for the wind”. In recent years meteorologists have calculated that an average thunderstorm holds thousands of tons of rain. To carry this load air must have mass. This has also been established by the Periodic Table of Elements invented by Russian Chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in March 1869. Oxygen and Nitrogen do have a molecular weight, there also gasses lighter than air such as Helium. How could ancient man have known this ?


Sometimes people read the Bible and appear to see contradictions. E.g. : Luke 10 : 30 says “A certain man was going down  from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell upon robbers”.…… Now Jericho is northeast of Jerusalem and many picked up on this as an error because to go down the way suggests he is going south not north. The reason why the term down is used is because Jerusalem is some 2,500 ft or 762 metres above sea level. When someone leaves the city they have to go down to go anywhere in the surrounding area in any direction.


In 1820 a man called Hubert Spencer gave the world five scientific principles by which we could study the unknown. They are TIME, FORCE, ENERGY, SPACE & MATTER. However all of Spencer’s scientific principles were already stated in the Bible.

GENESIS Chapter 1 Verse 1 In the beginning TIME God FORCE created ENERGY the heavens SPACE and  the earth MATTER.

And finally to finish on a light hearted note :

In Britain it is common policy for car insurance companies to ask claimants to write a description of the scene of their accident. These claims are 100 percent true! 

To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front I struck a pedestrian.
Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.
An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished.
The pedestrian had no idea which way to run as I ran over him.
I told the police that I was not injured but on removing my hat I found I had a fractured skull.
The gentleman behind me struck me on the backside. He then went to rest in a bush with just his rear end showing.
I was thrown from my car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.
I knocked over a man, he admitted it was his fault for he had been knocked down before.
I saw a slow moving, sad faced old gentleman as he bounced of the roof of my car.
I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.

Now for some letters of complaint sent to a London Council.

The Lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

The toilet is blocked and we can’t bath the children until it is cleared.

Our kitchen floor is damp and we have two children and would like to have a third so will you please send someone around to do something about it.

I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would be pleased if you could do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night.

I am writing on behalf of my sink which is coming away from the wall.

I wish to report that tiles are missing from the roof of the outside toilet. I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off.

Finally we have some hilarious but true answers given on Family Fortunes. Contestants from the ITV Family Fortunes game-show are asked to guess the most popular answers to questions as compiled  in a survey.

Something you lose when you get older? e.g. your hair, your eyesight, their answer was Your Purse.
A popular TV soap? e.g. East Enders, Coronation Street, their answer was Dove.
A Habit people try to give up? e.g. Stop Smoking, Stop Drinking, their answer was Stop Spitting.
A bird with a long neck? e.g. A swan or a crane, their answer was Naomi Campbell.
Something you can open apart from a door? e.g. a wine bottle or a tin, their answer was Your Bowels.
Something taken from a hotel as a souvenir e.g. soap, shampoo their answer was The Lamps.
Name a vocalist known by only one name, e.g. Cher, Lulu, their answer was Michael Jackson. By courtesy of (Buisiness Balls).


WARRIOR  (2014)

Warrior was a horse that served with the British Army during WWI and his bravery was an inspiration to thousands of soldiers. He was known as the “horse the German’s couldn’t kill” surviving sniper and machine gun attacks as well as having to be dug out of the mud at Passchendale. During his time on the Western Front from 1914 - 1918 he also survived being twice trapped under the burning beams of his stable.

An honorary PDSA Dickin Medal was awarded to Warrior on behalf of all animals that served in WWI. This posthumous award took place on the 2nd of September 2014 at the Imperial War Museum, London. The medal was received by author and broadcaster, Brough Scott, the grandson of Warrior’s owner at a presentation compared by Kate Adie. This 66th Dickin Medal features a bronze “honorary” bar on its green, brown and blue stripped ribbon. This was the first honorary PDSA Dickin Medal presented in the charities history and honours the heroism of animals during WWI in it’s centenary year. The Dickin Medal only began during WWII.

Warrior went on to survive the war and returned home to the Isle of Wight where he lived with the Seely family until his death in 1941 at the age of 33.

* During WWI the British Army deployed more than a million horses and mules. There were not enough horses in Britain to meet demand, so over a thousand horses a week were imported from North America. In America there was a plentiful supply of half-wild horses on the open plains. On the Western Front horses would be used for carrying supplies, guns, equipment , messengers and cavalry. *

 Strange But True

The German WWI spiked helmet known as a Pickelhaube remains one of the enduring features of the first world war. This spiked black leather helmet was originally introduced for the Prussian Infantry in 1842. The helmet caught on and was used by the military and police forces in Mexico, South America and Scandinavia and  even inspired the shape of the British Police helmet.

The helmet was phased our in 1916 when leather became scarce in Germany, in favour of a heavier but more protective steel helmet. Casualties from head wounds were believed to of dropped by 70 percent. The spike at the top of the older helmets were designed to deflect a Sword/Sabre blow to the head.


One of the best kept secrets of the WWII Blitz was that the British Anti Aircraft Guns and Anti Aircraft  lights were unable to see or hit any German Bombers passing over British cities. This was because the Bombers flew at such a high altitude, out-with the range of the British defences. The anti Aircraft guns would still fire constantly during air-raids but only to help morale by giving the impression of fighting back.


 There was once a Cairn Terrier called Peter who stowed away aboard the bomber aircraft of British Pilot Officer Peter Boyd. They were attacked by an enemy fighter whist over their target area taking some damage which got worse on the home journey when the wing tank burst into flames. PO Boyd grabbed Peter and parachuted out the aircraft where they landed in a woman’s garden. The lady totally ignored the pilot but made a great fuss of Peter the dog. (I think we can safely assume they made it back to Britain).


 The Canine population during WWII was believed to be around 3 million licensed and half a million unlicensed. Cats were believed to be around 7-8 million with around 2,000 racehorses. Racehorses were greatly reduced during the war to just 20 percent of pre-war levels however they wanted to keep some racing activity for morale purposes. Zoo’s carried on as normal with the exception of the poisonous snakes who by the beginning of the Blitz had their heating turned off. Great Britain still had between 9-12 touring circus which was encouraged for entertainment during the dark days of the Blitz.


In the Second World War, the drink Ribena was such an important source of vitamin C that two fake Ribena factories were built to confuse German Bombers!


 During the latter period of the war a new weapon was unleashed on Britain, the VI rocket. These rockets produced more heat on explosion than conventional bombs and the search and rescue dogs were given leather shoes made by the Great British public to prevent burns to their paws. The explosions from a VI rocket could take many lives. To ensure the search and rescue dogs didn’t waste valuable time unearthing the dead victims they were trained to tell the difference. This was achieved by several visits to the cities mortuary where they learned to ignore the dead bodies. Dickin Medal winning German Shepherd dog Irma was able to give a different bark depending on whether the buried people were alive or dead.

The VI attacks were predominately used against London so barrage balloons were gathered from around the country to make a protective ring around the capital. A total of 1,750 barrage balloons were used with well over 100 VI’s getting snagged up in the cables. The barrage balloons played their part in reducing the carnage and misery.


 Glen the dog and his handle 19 year old Pte Emil Corteil died after parachuting into Northern France in advance of the D-Day Landings. Glen a German Shepherd was attached to a Parachute Regiment. They were buried together in the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Normandy. Glen is the only animal to be buried in the Commonwealth Grave.


Leopold Socha was a man who worked in the sewer system below the Polish city of Lvov during the Nazi occupation of WWII. A group of Jews managed to escape the massacres and deportation during the liquidation of the Lvov ghetto. He managed to hide the terrified Jews in secret under-ground passageways of the sewers for a total of 14 months, 10 of the original twenty survived.

Leopold at first helped them in exchange for daily payment but continued to help long after the Jew’s money had run out and aiding them had become more dangerous. One day the Jews were cooking lunch and frying onions. The onion smell came up through the drains of an adjoining building where the tenants reported it to the Nazi authorities, explaining that there could be Jews hiding in the sewers. The Nazi’s immediately searched the sewers but by good luck it was Leopold that guided them. He managed to take the Germans to a far away empty part of the sewer system and no one was found.

Leopold and his friend Szczepek along with their wives were awarded the (Righteous Among The Nations) award in Israel.


After the Christmas Blitz on Manchester from 22nd - 24th of December 1940 the Manchester Animal Guards were out in force. They would tour the city on foot or by bicycle organizing relief for the “starving cats” of the city. Scraps of meat and fish from caterers and abattoirs had been collected and mixed with dry cat food stockpiled by the committee. Thirty volunteer women reported the cat’s location and distributed baskets of food to the animals.


 During wartime when choosing search and rescue dogs for training, the handlers placed great emphasis on the dogs eyes. Dogs with black eyes were deemed surly and erratic. 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.


 British Colonial Sayings

DUNGAREES -  We would call this item hard wearing work trousers or overalls. It’s origins lie with the Hindi word dungri, a kind of course cloth. The fabric originated in the Dungri district of Mumbai.

AARDVARK -  is the Afrikaans word for Earth Pig.

MEERKAT -  is the Afrikaans word for Lake Cat.

SHAMPOO - The word shampoo entered the English language from India during the colonial era. The term dates from 1762 and is derived from the Hindi word Champo which means to press, knead or soothe.

KUMQUAT - This is a word you may come across during your weekly shopping at the fruit counter. Kumquat is the Cantonese word for tangerines.

KAOLIN - Is a high mountain peak and the site of a mine from where Kaolin clay was taken to produce fine porcelain in Jingde, eastern China. Kaolin is also used as a medicine to settle upset stomachs.

PHONEY - this word was originally Irish for a gilt brass ring used by swindlers who fooled people into thinking it was gold. The word phoney means fake.

SLOGAN - The word Slogan was a battle cry dating back to 1704 in Ireland . It was used by Gaelic Clans, each different clan would have it’s own battle cry or slogan that identified them from other clans.

BUDGERIGER - sometimes shorted to budgie is a small parakeet the name comes from Aboriginal Australia.


World War I Music Halls

The Britannia Panopticon Music Hall on Glasgow’s Trongate is the oldest surviving music hall. During WWI, audiences of 1,200 strong would cram into the Panopticon to see one its 4 daily shows. Here they would be entertained by a mixed programme of songs, newsreels and comedy films. Another key part of the show were the recruiting songs.

Some of the more popular songs played would be : A long Way To Tipperary, Keep The Home Fires Burning, Pack Up Your Troubles, Goodbye Dolly Gray and We Don’t Want To Lose You But We Think You Ought To Go. One song that was never played in the music halls was, I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier. This song was sung at anti-war meetings around the country.

As the war  progressed, by 1916 music halls were a lot less popular in favour of the emerging interest of the cinema. Many of the actors employed during the Hollywood silent era were British entertainers that honed their skills during the music hall era.

USS Indianapolis

The worlds first operational atomic bomb was delivered to the island of Tinian on 26th July 1945 along with enriched uranium and spare parts onboard USS Indianapolis. The bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” was destined for Hiroshima. Afterwards the ship was directed to join up with the battleship USS Idaho at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan.

At 14 minutes past midnight on the 30th July 1945 at a point midway between Guam and Leyte Gulf the ship was hit by 2 torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. The resulting explosions split the keel in two whilst knocking out all electrical power. Within 12 minutes she sank rapidly by the bow. Of the 1,196 aboard, 900 made it into the water. Few life rafts could be released in the short time available, most men were wearing a standard life-jacket.

Shark attacks began at sunrise of their first day and continued until the remaining men were picked up 5 days later! Navy command had no knowledge of the ships sinking until the first survivors were spotted nearly 4 days later. The Indianapolis sent out distress calls before sinking, the calls were received by 3 stations however none acted upon the call. The USA at this time had broken the Japanese naval codes and it was found that the Japanese submarine sent back a communication to say they had sunk the Indianapolis yet this message was never picked up at that time. The mystery deepens when Captain McVay’s request for a destroyer escort was denied before setting off for the Philippines despite the Indianapolis having no anti-submarine detection equipment.

Of the 900 men stranded in the water only 317 survived. The sinking remains a controversy to this day. 

Food For Thought

PEST CONTROL :  Leviticus 25: 1-24. Farmers today are plagued with insects, yet God gave a perfect remedy to control pests century’s ago. Moses commanded the Israelites to set aside one year in seven when no crops were raised. Insects winter in the stalks of last years harvest, hatch in the spring, and are perpetuated by laying eggs in the new crop. If the crop is denied one year in seven, the pests have nothing to subsist upon, and are thereby controlled.

LAUGHTER PROMOTES PHYSICAL HEALING : Proverbs 17:22, (A merry heart doeth good like a medicine but a broken spirit drieth the bones). Recent studies confirm what King Solomon was inspired to write 3,000 years ago. For instance laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. This brings balance to the immune system which helps your body fight off disease.

GOD CREATED MANKIND FROM ONE BLOOD : Acts 17:26. Today researchers have discovered that we all descended from one gene pool. A 1995 study of a section of Y chromosomes from 38 men from different ethnic groups around the world was consistent with the biblical teaching that we all come from one man (Adam)


“Moselle Petrol”

Germany had no oil fields of its own, so as their need for fuel became greater they turned their attentions to the Romanian/ Russian oil fields in the east. During the final stages of WWII this oil supply was cut off by the advancing Russian army. Wehrmacht tanks and vehicles suffered flooded filters and clogged carburettors from using “moselle petrol”. This was a violet coloured blend of gasoline and alcohol on which they were now dependent.

The tank crews had to pre-heat their exhaust manifolds with blow torches, a dangerous job carrying a severe risk of fire/explosion but it was the only way to get the tanks moving. The irony of this situation was that the Germans were still churning out state-of-the-art tanks and airplanes late in the war but there was no fuel to operate them.


At the beginning of WWI many British fishermen entered the services and swapped the familiar hazards of life at sea for the dangers of the trenches or naval work. For those who stayed at home fishing became severely restricted. Fishermen were left with small areas to fish in, they also had to contend with a constant U.Boat threat. To add to their woes they also had many boats requisitioned for the navy.


“Axis Sally” was the name given by the US forces to Mildred Gillars (1900-1988), a failed American actress originally from Portland, Maine. She moved to Germany in 1935 and became an announcer on Radio Berlin. She broadcast music as well as Nazi propaganda designed to undermine Allied morale. She was tried for treason in 1949 and served 12 years in prison. 

And finally to finish on a light hearted note :

An old pussycat had come to the end of his time and went to heaven where God was waiting to greet him. “You’ve been a very good cat” said God “is there anything I can get you to make you comfortable”? The cat replied, “I would love some nice soft bedding and lots of new toys”. God was as good as his word. Suddenly 6 mice appeared at the pearly gates. God could see they had a hard life so he ushered them all in. He then asked “is there anything I can do for you”? The mice answered that they’ve been running all there lives and it can be so tiring, we would love a little set of roller-skates. In a flash God had made and fitted the mice with their roller-skates.

Finally that day a beagle dog arrived at the pearly gates. He told God “I was misunderstood, they all call me greedy guts yet it’s a glandular problem”. The beagle said, “if you let me into heaven and give me just one big bowl of food a day I will never steal any food again” God gave the beagle the benefit of the doubt and ushered him in where the dog started to nosh on his big bowl of food.

Sometime later God decided to check on the cat, he asked the cat how were things going? The cat said terrible, “some fat dog stole all my food”! “If it wasn’t for the meals on wheels you sent I could of starved to death”!!


SASHA (2014)

On the 29th of April 2014, Sasha a 4 year old golden Labrador became the 65th recipient of the Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. The citation for the award read: “for saving many soldiers and civilians from death or injury”. The medal was accepted by Sasha’s previous handler Marianne Hay with the family of Lance Corporal Rowe in attendance.

Sasha was born in 2004 and went on to serve with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps which was attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute regiment in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan. Sasha was well liked by the troops and raised morale whenever she was on patrol. She also made friends with fellow Dickin Medal winner Treo and loved chasing the feral cats that inhabited the base. This sniffer dog and his handler Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe were responsible for uncovering 15 bombs and hoards of weapons.

While on patrol in 2008 both handler and dog were killed in a Taliban ambush, they died together after being hit by a volley of 5 rocket- propelled grenades. They were due to return to the U.K on the day before their deaths but Rowe had asked to remain behind as there was no incoming dog team to take over.

Both their remains arrived at R.A.F. Lyneham on 29th July 2008 where a private repatriation service was held and a subsequent parade through Wooton Basset. Lance Corporal Rowe’s family were awarded the Elizabeth Cross in his honour in 2010.

 Valour Strange But True    

Before the outbreak of WWII, Norway’s Merchant Navy was the fourth largest in the world and many of its ships were the most modern. The Germans and the British both recognised the great importance of Norway’s Merchant Fleet and following Germany’s invasion of Norway in April 1940, both sides sought control of the ships.
Norwegian “puppet leader” Vidkum Quisling ordered all Norwegian ships to sail to Germany, Italy or neutral ports. He was ignored and all Norwegian Ships decided 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 one-third of all the oil transported into Britain during the war. In total the Norwegian fleet lost 694 ships which was approximately half their fleet with a loss of 3,700 Norwegian Merchant Seamen.

A Shetland pony called Cruachan the 3rd has received his official Veterans Badge after almost 2 decades of service. Cruachan is a black Shetland pony standing at only 3ft tall and aged around 70 in human years. He was presented with his badge from the commanding officer of Balaklava Company 5 Scots (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh. He was bought by the officers and soldiers in 1995 and was adopted as mascot in 2009.

The 24 year old pony has led the Royal Regiment of Scotland at dozens of Highland games, fayres and military parades including leading the regiment at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Following his retirement his official duties have been taken over by Cruachan the 4th although both ponies sometimes attend parades together. Cruachan the 3rd will now be spending more time out in the fields of his home barracks with his companion Islay and the occasional tin of off-duty beer. The Cruachan’s come from a long line of characters one of which ate the Queen’s flowers while she was speaking to him! 

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.

One of the most unusual ships commissioned  during 1945 at a cost of around 1 million dollars was the U.S. Navy’s Ice Cream Barge, the world’s first floating ice cream parlour. Its sole purpose was to produce ice cream for the U.S. sailors in the Pacific region. The barge pumped out around 1,500 gallons every hour, a second similar barge was to be anchored at Naha, Okinawa.

In Great Britain during WWII children were encouraged to walk along hedgerows to gather the Wild Rose Hips which was high in vitamin C. This would later be used as a source of nourishment for babies.

Sevastopol Tom

Near the end of the Crimean War in 1855, British and French forces captured the port city of Sevastopol after a yearlong siege. With all their own supplies exhausted the hungry allied troops searched the city for anything edible left behind by the Russians but found nothing. However they did find one well fed tabby cat in rude health which the soldiers named Tom. The cat who looked so healthy despite all the carnage that it made the British very curious so one day they decided to follow Tom among the ruins.

The tabby ducked under some rubble and didn’t immediately return. The soldiers cleared away the debris and discovered a hidden cache of food that had been hidden away by the Russians at the beginning of the siege. Tom had survived by returning to these supplies throughout the siege and now he had saved everyone from starvation. It was very rare for foreign animals to be taken back to Britain but an exception was made for Tom, who returned to Britain with soldier William Gair.

Dogs were used extensively during WWI as scouts, sentries, messengers and rescuers. They were used by all sides and not only on the Western Front but the Eastern Front also. A German Red Cross dog serving on the Eastern Front won the Iron Cross medal for rescuing a wounded officer in no-man land on the Russian Front. Under heavy fire the injured dog dragged the man to safety.

Rosyth Naval Dockyard WWII 

The first air-raid strike on Britain during WWII occurred on the 16th October 1939. The raid took place at the Royal Navy Dockyard at Rosyth, Fife when German Aircraft bombed H.M.S. Southampton which was lying alongside H.M.S. Edinburgh. One the same day H.M.S Mowhawk, a destroyer on escort duty was hit with 16 killed. Rosyth Dockyard is a large naval dockyard at Rosyth, Fife. It was constructed in 1909 at the 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 countless ships had been re-fitted or taken anchorage at Rosyth. During WWII many larger trawlers were refitted to perform the task of minesweepers with steel plate re-enforcement required to withstand the possibility of mine explosions.

During WWII, Rosyth and the surrounding area was at high risk from attack. This was not only due to the strategic importance of the Rosyth Docks but also the German Bombers as they crossed the North Sea used the Fife coastland as a Fixed Navigation point on route to bombing Clydeside. They would return the same route and if some bombers failed to drop all their bombs on Clydeside some would jettison their remaining bombs on Fife before heading back across the North Sea.

Mice were widely used by the British to ascertain the presence of toxic gas and poisonous fumes in enclosed spaces such as dugouts and mine tunnels. Approximately 30 different poisonous gases were used during WWI. In the early days of war before effective gas masks were available the soldiers were told to hold a urine-soaked cloth over their face in an emergency. Tear gas was first used by the Germans in 1915 against the Russian Armies but was found to be ineffective. This was due to the gas quickly turning to liquid in the cold air.

The Royal Air Force and the U.S. 8th Air Force used around 180 airfields scattered all over Great Britain during WWII.  These airfields had over 4,000 miles of runways. There was a standing joke at the time that a pilot could fly from Lands End to John O’ Groats without leaving the ground! 

“We’ll meet again”

 Dame Vera Lynn, known as the forces sweetheart has marked her 97th birthday by announcing plans to release a new album!  The veteran singer is best known for her songs including, We’ll meet again and White Cliffs of Dover. Her songs helped to boost morale during WWII when “all the lights were going out” across Europe and the island of Great Britain stood alone.

She was born Vera Margaret Welsh in March 1917 and adopted her grandmother’s maiden name (Vera) as her stage name. During the War she was heard over the radio by millions and in 1941 she began her own programme, (Sincerely Yours) which sent messages to British Troops serving abroad. She would sing songs most requested by the soldiers and also visited maternity hospitals to interview new mothers and send personnel messages to their husbands overseas.

She also toured overseas in Egypt, India and Burma giving outdoor concerts for the troops. In 1985 it was announced that she was to receive the Burma Star medal for entertaining British guerrilla units in Japanese-occupied Burma. Once back home she would be singing to munition factory workers up and down the country. In 2009 Vera Lynn became the oldest living artist to reach No1 in the British Charts at the age of 92. Her new album will feature previously unreleased material some of which was only found recently recorded on the old 78 r.p.m bakelite records. The album will be available from the 2nd June to mark the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings.

British nursing efforts were not restricted to the Western Front. Many Scottish voluntary nurses known as the (Grey Partridges) in reference to their dark grey overcoats arrived in Romania in 1916. In addition to nursing injured personnel they also manned transport vehicles and acted as regimental cooks. They also managed to convert an abandoned building in the city of Galati into an operational hospital. Death through disease was greater on the Eastern than the Western Front, the worst culprits being malaria, cholera, dysentery and also typhoid spotted fever, transmitted by lice.

To finish on a lighter note and with the World Cup with us again I thought I would attempt to be a T.V guide and critic for those of you not interested in the football. Here are some alternative programmes during June/July!

YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED : Not bad as a filler programme but lets it’s self down with too many trampoline clips and folk falling off push bikes. The show needs more dogs and cats with the occasional Beagle drooling or stealing food. Perhaps a few more  clips of people being scared out their wits would also be beneficial. SCORE 6

EMBARRASSING BODIES : A well intended programme highlighting embarrassing conditions of the human body. The patients on the show were so embarrassed by their ailments that they couldn’t face showing their doctor. Along comes T.V Dr Pixie McKenna to explore the problem with a T.V camera crew and a world wide audience and suddenly they drop their undies faster than a speeding bullet. ( Did you find this weird too!) Anyway be careful what you wish for, you might just get it, so don’t blame me if you get E.B.F.B or Embarrassing Body Flash Backs when your having your  lunch !! SCORE 7

HAPPY VALLEY: An excellent police drama set in the north of England. The acting is excellent and the story line is strong and believable. Might be finishing soon but it  will to be available on DVD soon. SCORE 10

BENIDORM: Comedy drama set in a hotel in Benidorm, Spain. The story centres around the hotel guests who are a “mixed cargo” to say the least, including an elderly woman on a mobility scooter who could start an argument in an empty house. It’s a bit like the old Carry On films the difference being that the Carry On movies never had a man called squirrel who lived in a dumpster. SCORE 8

MRS BROWNS BOYS: This is a comedy to give your spirit’s a wee lift. It’s a well put together show with a strong script and cast. My only criticisim is that they have a dog called Sparticus and a bloke called Dino yet I’ve never seen the dog nor have I heard Arrivederci Roma. SCORE 9

CASUALTY: A good British medical drama but it suffers a bit from all the real A&E programmes around at the moment. Little Tommy falling from a tree with a suspected broken arm can’t compete with the American A&E where there wheeling them in with multiple gun shot wounds. Low point is Charlie running around with piles of paperwork under his arm and complaining of being short staffed. He’s been doing this since I had a bubble perm and that wasn’t yesterday! SCORE 7

SURVIVAL REALITY SHOWS: There are far too many to name just the one however they are basically similar although the locations can be quite diverse. The contestants use there wits to survive in difficult locations. Many with only a trusty knife for company. The contestants are good at making fires and whittling wood, it’s just a pity some of them couldn’t whittle themselves a personality. Some use their whittling skills to spear a small strange looking fish. I often wonder if behind a hill the programme producer shouts them all for dinner and tells the man to throw that pathetic fish away as they sit down to some Tachos and chilled beer!

There was once a programme where individuals tried to “hack it” in a WWI trench. If I had my way I would of covered them in lice and released 100 hungry rats before lobbing grenades at them at 15 minute intervals! They’d be out that trench faster than you could say “Pack Up Your Troubles” and be heading for La Premier Inn toot suite and en suite, sadly an option that was not given to the men back in 1914.

This brings me to talk about a survival show set in some desert region. The contestants were drinking their own urine which is something you have to do in difficult circumstances. The weird thing here was that, they were drinking their own urine long before the water ran out!! (This would give Embarrassing Bodies a run for their money!) If you think about it what they did was no different than someone who resorted to canibalism with 3 packets of sausages left in the fridge. I was going to give these programmes a score of 5 but I changed it to SCORE 6 (At least they never drank each others urine!)

If none of these programmes take your fancy I’m afraid you’ll just have to settle for the penalty shootouts!

NPS.42.NS.2780  (1945)

NPS.42.NS.2780 was a carrier pigeon that received the Dickin Medal in October 1945. The citation read, “ Brought 3 important messages from the Continent, (enemy occupied country) in 1942 and 1943 ; served with the National Pigeon Service,(Special Section). The messages were delivered in July 1942, May 1943 and July 1943. It was on the 9th of July 1943 that the British and U.S forces began the invasion of Sicily.

* According to the Defence of the Realm Act during WWI a Five Pound reward was paid by the National Homing Union for information leading to the conviction of any person shooting homing pigeons. *

NPS.42.NS.7524  (1945)

NPS.42.NS.7524 was also a carrier pigeon that received the Dickin Medal in October 1945. The citation read, “Brought back 3 important messages from the Continent, (enemy occupied country) in 1942 and 1943 whilst serving with the National Pigeon Service, (Special Section). The messages were delivered in July 1942, May 1943 and July 1943. It was on the 7th of May 1943 that the Allied forces captured the North African city of Tunis from the Germans.

* During WWI the Germans had photographer-pigeons with small cameras strapped to their stomach. This procedure only ended with the introduction of aerial reconnaissance planes. *  


THE SPANISH FLU 1918 - 1919

The 1918 flu pandemic was an unusually deadly strain of influenza, it spread to over 500 million people across the world killing 100 million people. The reason it was called Spanish flu was it appeared that Spain had a greater amount of victims of the flu as well as a high profile casualty, the gravely ill King of Spain. In truth the mortality rates in Germany, Great Britain, France and the U.S.A were just as high but were censored to prevent the damage to morale during WWI.

The flu took hold in Europe because of the weakened immune system of men at war living in close proximity in the trenches with unhygienic living standards. In Canada many believed that drinking alcohol was a good cure for the flu however there was no alcohol available due to the prohibition. Many went to their doctor and managed to get their alcohol on prescription!



The town of Clydebank, not far from Glasgow had important shipyards as well as ammunition and aircraft engine factories during WWII. Most of the people who worked in the shipyards and factories lived in tenement flats near by. Over 2 nights on the 13th and 14th of March 1941 around 400 German planes dropped over 1,000 bombs on Clydebank.

528 people were killed and over 600 injured during the 2 nights with many fires being started by incendiary bombs. 4,000 homes were destroyed and over 40,000 were made homeless. Some of the bomb craters were 20 ft deep, despite the carnage the shipyards remained relatively unscathed.

On the 6th and 7th of May 1941 about 50 German planes bombed Greenock with 280 people being killed and a further 1,200 being injured. Cars were seen driving through the streets with loud speakers telling people where to go for help and shelter. Many were covered 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. Three firemen were awarded the George Medal for their bravery during the Greenock Blitz.

1. The tomcat mascot of H.M.S. Scorpion was a cat named Thomas Oscar, it was no great secret that Thomas was spoilt rotten. He had his own hammock, mattress, blanket and pillow, kit bag and also a H.M.S. cap ribbon that he wore around his neck on Sundays. He also used to play with a rabbit-tail toy.

In October 1944 the crew of No 3 mess applied for Thomas Oscar to be enrolled in the Allied Forces Mascot Club with his own paw mark at the foot of the application form. This able-bodied cat participated in several Russian Convoys, a raid on Norway and was present at the D-Day landings.

2. Elephants were employed as recently as WWII by both the Allied and Japanese Armies. Elephants could perform the work of machines in locations where vehicles could not penetrate therefore finding use in the Burma Campaign.

3. In America the oldest memorial to War Dogs in situated at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, 30 miles from New York. This memorial was dedicated in 1922 to War Dogs used in WWI. An effort is currently underway to petition the U.S. Postal Service for a stamp honouring military working dogs.



Lord Haw-Haw was the nickname given to William Joyce, (amongst others) who was an announcer on a German propaganda radio programme during WWII. The programme was broadcast on medium wave from the Reichssender Radio Station in Hamburg. It began broadcasting on 18th September 1939 until 30th April 1945 when Hamburg was over-run.

It was not deemed illegal for any British civilians to listen to the programme but they were strongly advised against it, however many millions did listen-in. The reason so many listened to the programme was that every household had family fighting abroad and were keen for news. British Military information was heavily censored so people would listen in to this propaganda programme and attempt to “read between the lines” as to what was happening.

At the end of the war, William Joyce was captured by British Forces at Flensburg near the German border with Denmark. He was tried on 3 counts of High Treason and executed at Wandsworth Prison in London in 1946. He was the last person to be tried for treason in the U.K.

4. Dr Harold Gillies originally from Dunedin, New Zealand was a pioneering Plastic Surgeon who developed some of the worlds first successful skin grafts during WWI. Dr Gillies developed early plastic surgery techniques to treat seriously wounded and disfigured soldiers, allowing them to go on to live a full life as civilians.

In 1917, Dr Gillies carried out the first modern plastic surgery to rebuild the face of sailor Walter Yeo, performing a skin graft around the eyes. Over 3,000 soldiers were treated at the Queen’s Hospital in Sidcup, Kent during WWI.



Vietnam’s sentry dogs had a reputation for bravery, their efforts to root out the Vietcong earned them the name “guided muzzles”. Of the many dogs that served, Nemo was probably the most famous. The U.S. Airforce bought Nemo from an airforce sergeant in the summer of 1964. He then received his training, serial number and was tattooed in his left ear and finally set off for Vietnam in January 1966.

Nemo and his Partner were part of the Air Police Squadron near Saigon that made up the base’s first line of defence against the Vietcong. Nemo’s handler was a man called Thorneburg, when on patrol he was shot in the shoulder when 4 Vietcong guerrillas opened fire. Nemo was shot under the right eye, ignoring his serious head wound Nemo threw himself at the 4 Vietcong guerrillas thus giving Thorneburg the time he needed to call in backup help. Despite Nemo losing an eye, dog and handler made it safely back to the U.S where Nemo spent a long retirement at the Lackland Dog Training Centre. This special dog became an inspiration for future trainee dog handlers. Nemo was one of only a handful of dogs that made it back to the U.S.A.

5. According to Anne Frank’s diary the family got a female cat called  Moortje in 1942 but the family decided that the cat had to be given away when the family went into hiding, Anne missed her cat dearly. When young Peter Van Pels arrived at the hide-out he had a black tomcat called Mouschi who was very friendly.

Mouschi’s litter tray was kept up in the attic, according to Anne, Mouschi was not very popular when he “missed” his litter box and the cat pee ran through the floorboards and landed in their barrel of potatoes! After the raid on the Franks it’s believed Mouschi was looked after by the Frank family helper Miep Gies and eventually found a permanent home with the office cleaner.

6. 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. If caught she would have been executed.

7. During the American Civil War special field hospitals were set up to deal with the injured. In many cases limbs had to be cut off quickly, the survival rate from leg amputations was poor. When a leg was being amputated to increase the chances of survival the surgeon would saw the leg as quick as possible to reduce the pain and blood loss. During a big battle the field hospitals were very busy and it was not uncommon for the surgeons to hack off the soldier’s testicles by accident. 

8. December the 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 it’s lowest level. 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 to crawl across mud banks to get water from the Thames.

9. During WWII, The Boy Scout Association guided fire engines to where they were most needed and became known as the “Blitz Scouts”.

10. Mourka was a cat that lived through one of the bloodiest battles in history, the German siege of Stalingrad during WWII. During 1942 & 1943 Mourka risked his life carrying messages about German positions back to a group of Russians scouts at their H.Q. He would have been well rewarded for his efforts as there was a kitchen in  the Russian H.Q. At the end of the siege there was 110,000 German soldiers captured, only 6,000 ever returned.

11. Wartime President of the U.S Franklin D Roosevelt had a beloved pet dog called Fala, who was a black Scottish Terrier. He received Fala as a Christmas gift from his cousin and it was originally called Big Boy however Franklin renamed him after a Scottish ancestor, John Murray of Falahill, shortened to Fala. This little dog was to gain national popularity and during the battle of the Bulge American soldiers would check against German soldiers infiltrating American ranks by routinely asking each other the name of the President’s dog.

Fala was taken with Roosevelt on most of his war-time meetings and when he got left behind accidentally on one of the Aleutian islands, situated in the far Northern Pacific Ocean, a destroyer was sent back to pick him up. Fala died in 1952 and was buried close to the Roosevelts in the rose garden at Springwood along side “Chief” a German Shepherd Dog also owned by F.D.R. Springwood is situated in Hyde Park, New York.   



TREK; means to migrate, taken from the Affrikaans, originally taken from the Dutch word Trecken.

PADDY FIELDS; means rice fields taken from the Malay word Padi.

PUKKA; means genuine, authentic, first class, it is taken from the Hindi word Pakka meaning cooked, ripe or solid.

CARAVAN; means travelers on a journey through hostile regions, taken from the Italian word Caravana, originally taken from the Persian word Karwan.

KIP; means bed, sleep or rest is taken from the Danish word Kippercheap which means Tavern or Lodgings.

LOOT; means plunder it is taken from the Hindi word from 1788.

SAFARI; means a hunting trip and is taken from the Arabic word safariy or trip.

CHAR; means Tea and in taken from the Hindustani.

BUCKSHEE; means free or a tip or gratuity, brought back from North Africa WWII.

THE FISHING FLEET; was the name given to unmarried British women who were sent to India by their parents each year during the cool season to find a husband!

12. The American Marines had a large dog programme in place to assist them during the battle for Guam. Mainly Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds were recruited from the U.S.A civilian population and went on to begin training. They first attended Camp Lejeune, North Carolina then Camp Pendleton, California and finished their training on Guadalcanal.

These specially trained dogs were able to search out the enemy, detect mines, booby traps, alert troops in foxholes of approaching Japanese, carry messages, ammunition and medical supplies. All these special dogs that died during the conflict were buried in a small section of the Marine Cemetery on the landing beach at Asan that became known as the War Dog Cemetery. These highly trained dogs were to see action on all the Island-Island fighting as they advanced towards Japan.


The Laconia incident was an abortive naval rescue attempt in the Atlantic Ocean during WWII. On September 12th 1942 R.M.S. Laconia was struck by a torpedo from Kriegsmarine, submarine U-156 off the west coast of Africa. The U-Boat  commander Werner Hartenstein and his crew immediately commenced rescue operations and were joined by other U-Boats in the area.

With the submarine full of survivors  and towing several life rafts the U-Boat headed for a rendezvous with Vichy French ships under Red Cross banners. Despite the U-Boat sending out a communication to this effect the U-Boats were attacked by a U.S Army B-24 Liberation Bomber. Due to the injuries on many of the survivors they became easy prey for shark attacks.

13. To finish on a lighter note ; To celebrate his wife Carole’s 67th birthday, farmer Dick Kleis used a manure spreader to spell out HAP B DAY LUV U in a field visible from the living room of the couples home in Iowa, USA. It took him 3hours and 4 loads of liquid manure to create the message, he was also going to add a heart  but he ran out of manure! (and they say romance is dead!).

I have compiled a list of the worst Birthday/Anniversary presents for both men and women. Firstly lets look at some genuine gifts that were given to disappointed women.











However its not all one-sided, lets look at some Birthday/Anniversary presents given to disappointed men.




4. DVD BOX-SET OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.(were not that stupid!)








Carrier pigeon Flying  Dutchman NPS.42.NS.44802 was a Dark Cheq Cock pigeon that received the Dickin Medal in March 1945. The Citation read, “Delivered 3 messages from agents in the Netherlands, missing in action on the 4th mission in 1944 while serving with the RAF”.

The intelligence messages that were sent back to Britain by carrier pigeon from Holland contained a code word in the message note’s margin. For security purposes all messages contained the word “OZO” which was the Dutch Resistance Code for (Holland will raise again).

*The majority of pigeons sent on service “homed” from Northern France, Belgium and southern Holland. A minority, however brought messages from as far a field as the Bordeaux area in France, the Upper Rhone Valley in the south as well as northern Denmark to the east. *

NURP.43.CC.1418  (1947)

This B.C. Hen, carrier pigeon was awarded the Dickin Medal on the 5th January 1947. The Citation read, “For the fastest flight with a message from the 6th Airbourne Division, in Normandy on the 17th June 1944 while serving with the APS”. She was the only bird to “home” from this major airborne assault in under 24 hours. 

The British 6th Airbourne division was parachuted into northern France in advance of the D-Day landings, they had to capture the Benouville and Ranville bridges. These strategically vital bridges, once held, would prevent German assault on the flank of the British and Canadian seaborne troops, it would also allow the Allies to advance eastwards.

The 6th Airbourne also had to destroy the Merville gun battery that was situated to the northeast of the bridges. This imposing fortress contained 4 large calibre guns which could do terrific damage to the invasion fleet. The guns had to be destroyed in the hours leading up to the D-Day landings. Their mission was a success but over 1,000 men were killed and many more wounded

* During WW1 British Mine Sweeping ships/boats carried pigeons so that in the event of a U-Boat attack a pigeon could be released from the sinking ship with a message confirming their position. In many cases this resulted in the crew being rescued. *

NURP.38.BPC.6  (1946)

This carrier pigeon was awarded the Dickin Medal in August 1946. The Citation read, “For 3 outstanding flights from France while serving with the Special Section of the Army Pigeon Service on 11July 1941, 9th September 1941 and 29th November 1941”.

This carrier pigeon was bred and trained by S.J. Bryant of the Bridgewater, Somerset National Pigeon Service Group. The carrier pigeons flight in September 1941 was made at the height of the war and was completed within 48 hours of the bird being dropped behind German occupied lines. It was during 1941 that the Vichy, government in France passed laws to combat the French Resistance. Any known members were now to be given the death penalty.
* The leg canisters fixed to the pigeons were colour coded to represent different war-time units, British Army, US Forces, R.A.F, British Special Service, Navy and the Civil Police Force. * 


1. The “Go Compare”  T.V advert that has been driving many people “up the wall” was originally a song written in 1917 to assist recruitment for the U.S Army and to raise money for the war effort through War Bonds. The song was  recorded by many individuals but is best remembered when sung by Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. He recorded the song in English and French as a morale boost to the French Allies. Apart from the “Go Compare” advert, the song has also been heard on an episode of Tom & Jerry and Abe Simpson once sang the song to little Bart and Lisa.

2. The Korean War was fought between June 1950 and July 1953 between the Republic of Korea, (South) supported by the U.N, against the communist North Korea. The U.N troops that fought in this conflict totalled 341,000.

There was a mare horse named Reckless, a pack horse that worked during the Korean War. The rough terrain and primitive roads demanded that animals carried rifles, ammunition and supplies to the soldiers on the front lines. During the battle for Outpost Vegas, Reckless made 50 trips up and down the hill, on the way up she carried ammunition and on the way down she carried wounded soldiers. The amazing thing was that she made every trip up the hill through enemy fire and without anyone leading her.

3. In Africa there lives a detection dog with a difference. A German Shepherd dog named Dickson has been trained to detect Ivory and Rhino Horn, a crucial step in conservation. The Kenya Wildlife Service began the sniffer dog programme 12 years ago and the Animal Wildlife Foundation ( A.W.F.) will help to almost double the programme by providing support for an extra 8 dogs.

4. During WW11 when the prospect of a German invasion of Britain was at it’s height the security services watched for farmers cutting crops out of season or in unusual patterns. They came under suspicion of trying to convey messages to airborne enemy craft or of providing runways for the enemy.


 At the outbreak of WW1 Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of state for war believed that Pals Battalions was a good way of increasing the number of enlisted men for the war. The Pals Battalion’s of WW1 were made up from men enlisted in local recruitment drives, with the promise that they would be able to serve together. The attraction for the men was that they would serve alongside their friends, neighbours and work-mates rather than being allocated to any number of regular Army Units.

The downside of the Pals Battalion lay in the effect of heavy casualties that were taken by these Battalions which ripped the heart out of the local communities. These towns would suffer much higher losses, at the Somme offensive the Accrington Pals along with the Sheffield and Bradford Pals took heavily loses leaving the local communities to be little short of missing a generation.

Another Pals Battalion was the Lothian Regiment Royal Scots which contained the entire  1st and 2nd Team of Hearts of Midlothian F.C along with several board members and staff as well as a sizeable contingent of the supporters. (At least the players got a regular wage!) .

5. Pre - 1945, salvaged  battleship steel plate is highly sought after. With it lying deep underwater it is shielded from the sun’s radiation therefore it’s background radiation is greatly reduced. This makes it ideal for making precision radiation measuring equipment.

6. After their Merchant Ship was sunk in the North Atlantic in March 1943, ships cat Maizie and six crew members spent 56 hours on a life raft before they were rescued. Crewman Eugene Clancy from New York said, “If Maizie hadn’t been with us, we might have gone nuts. We completely forgot our personal discomfort and almost fought for the privilege of petting her”.

Maizie took her turn at eating malted milk tablets and condensed food with the men ,and even comforted those suffering from exposure or seasickness by going from one to another almost like a mother”.


KHAKI which describes the colour of the British Army clothing originates from the Hindi word meaning Dusty or Earth.

DEKKO meaning to take a look is taken from the Hindi word deckna, (to look)

TOPEE or wig takes it’s name from the Hindi word for helmet. (topi)

GOOLIE is the word for a testicle and is taken from the 19thcentury Hindi word goolie, which means a pellet.


7. The term Taffy or Taff when referring to Welsh soldiers has its origins in the Taff - Ely Valley in South Wales. Due to the decline in the coal industry during the 20th century many men were left unemployed this led to a big enlistment from this area during WW1 & 2. As a large number of Welshmen came from Taff, the name “stuck” to represent all Welshmen. 

8. Smoky the dog was a tiny Yorkshire Terrier and a mascot of the U.S 26th Reconnaissance Squadron in the Pacific during WW11. During fighting in the Philippines in January 1945 Smoky managed to grab hold of telephone cables and dragged them through an 8 ˝ wide 70ft long underground drainage pipe. His action kept the men from being exposed to enemy fire.

9. In more recent times, Chase No Face is a Therapy Cat whose face was severely disfigured when she was hit by a car when she was a kitten. One of her legs also had to be amputated after the accident. After being adopted by one of the Veterinary Technicians who treated her, Chase No Face began visiting hospitals and schools to encourage people who are dealing with their own disfiguring injuries. People have said that the cat’s ability to help people emotionally from their traumas is nothing short of miraculous. 

10. When the United States entered WW1 in 1917 they had no organized dog units with the exception of a few sled dogs kept in Alaska. They borrowed a limited number of dogs from the British and French forces for casualty, messenger and guard duty. The Germans had the most advanced dog units which dated back to the 1880’s approx.

11. In Great Britain at the time of the Napoleonic war, a soldier was often en-listed after being plied with drink by a recruiting sergeant in a public house. Having virtually accepted the “Queen’s Shilling” he was allowed 24 - 96 hours to reconsider. The recruit was then medically examined, mainly to detect flogging scars on previous deserters or unsavoury characters trying to re-enlist for the en-listing bounty. If all checked out ok they would take a formal oath of allegiance before a magistrate. A soldier’s pay was normally one Shilling a day minus rations and replacement clothes.


 To Bell The Cat

This old saying means to undertake a difficult mission at great personal risk. An ancient fable tells of a colony of mice who met together to discuss how they could thwart a cat that was terrorising them. One young mouse suggested hanging a bell around the cat’s neck so that it’s movements would be known to them. This plan delighted the rest of the group until an older mouse asked the obvious question, “who will bell the cat”?

 A White Elephant

 Today this saying means a gift that you either don’t want, can’t use or is ugly but you can’t give it away and are therefore stuck with it. The origins of this saying goes back to Siam where white elephants were considered sacred, they were usually cared for by the royal families. If any individual made the royal family angry they would give him/her a white elephant that they were forced to feed and look after at their own expense. As the elephant was sacred they could not get rid of it, thus the gift was really a burden.

 A Dog In A Manger

This saying means, selfishly depriving others of something you have no use for yourself. This saying dates back to the 6th century B.C, the story is about a dog that lay in a manger, unable to eat the barley but refusing to allow the horse, which could eat, to come near. A dog in a manger holds onto things he can’t use in order to deprive someone else of having the benefit of it.

 A Red Herring

This saying originates with poachers who would drag a herring across the ground where they had just walked to throw the game’s keepers dogs of their scent. Herrings were made red by the process of curing/smoking.

12. Captain James Cook was a famous British explorer, navigator and cartographer in the Royal Navy. His 2nd in command on his last voyage was a man called Charles Clerke who was known as a great cat lover. In Captains Cook’s biography Charles is mentioned as being in a state of great distress because his “poor cats” were kidnapped by Tahitians.

13. Recently, Army experts were shocked to discover an unexploded bomb that was being kept on an O.A.P. mantle-piece. Retired metal dealer Bob Grey 71, had polished it for years and even let his dogs play with it! Friends urged him to contact the police and a bomb squad was called in. The rusting 18inch keepsake turned out to be a live First World War French anti-tank device which was taken away for a controlled explosion.


Despite the sniper bullets, shellfire and poison gas there were also many hidden dangers lurking in every WW1 trench.

DYSENTRY : A lack of sanitation in the trenches and irregular supply of clean drinking water caused a condition known as dysentery. Soldiers would often have to rely on melted snow or water from shell holes, this unsanitary water caused bacterial infections of the intestines, diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and stomach aches. Many men in this dehydrated state would often die.

BODY LICE / TRENCH FEVER  : Body lice was another scourge all the soldiers had to contend with. Despite being de-loused regularly the infestations never seemed to diminish and led to a condition known as Trench Fever. The Trench Fever produced severe pains and a high fever and took a toll on the health of the soldiers, recovery took around 12 weeks. Lice was only identified as the cause of Trench Fever towards the end of the war.

No one could escape the lice, some men shaved their head and body hair but the lice was still living in their clothing. Even after their clothing was washed the eggs of the lice that lay in the seems of the clothes would survive, hatch and re-infect the soldiers.

* During WW1, Creosote  was poured into the latrines and cess-pits in an attempt to mask the smell,  according to those present, it was not very effective  *

TRENCH MOUTH  :  This condition was an extremely painful form of Gingivitis where the gums became red, very swollen and bleeding, also accompanied by mouth ulcers. The condition was caused by bad oral hygiene, poor nutrition, smoking and stress. The problem with smoking in the trenches was that most men smoked “hands free” with the cigarette constantly burning in the mouth also the impact of the war and the conditions they lived in left their body resistance weakened.

 Trench Mouth would leave “crater like” ulcers between the teeth, a grey film of dead flesh and skin would then build up in the mouth. One makeshift cure to help the condition became popular in the trenches, the soldier would smear his mouth and gums with butter and he would then chew on a large spoonful of sugar. The abrasive action of the sugar would help to scrape the dead skin and flesh away. ( The cure sounds worse than the illness!!)

TRENCH FOOT: Once again this condition was brought about by living in unsanitary surroundings. Trench foot would start by standing in water for long periods, this would become worse when the water was cold thick and muddy. The soldier’s foot/feet would begin to get numb and turn red or blue, if caught in time the foot was treated in a field hospital for about 5 days and the soldier could return to duty. Sadly if the foot was left too long, there would be an aroma of rotting flesh which allowed gangrene to “set in” requiring the foot to be amputated.

* Over 2 million men died from disease and infections caught in WW1 trenches.*

14. A bottle-nosed dolphin became the first U.S Navy sea mammal to complete an open ocean military exercise in 1965. Tuffy delivered supplies to Sea Lab11, 200 ft underwater. Sea lions have extraordinary underwater directional hearing and can see in near darkness, they are capable of “homing” in on the “pinging” sound in mines.

These sea mammals have been trained to hunt for mines, to locate objects lost at sea as well as providing harbour security for shipping. In 1997 Ukranian  dolphins trained by the Soviet Navy for military operations are now being used for therapy with autistic and emotionally disturbed children.

15. During WW11 some pigeons were even trained to disable enemy search lights when missions were in progress.

16. Ha Wenjin gave up her job and sold her house, car and jewellery to adopt more than 1,500 stray dogs at her rescue centre in Nanjing, China. She employs 12 people to care for the dogs and to look after 200 adopted cats at a 2nd centre nearby.

17. Grandmother Amanda Booth from Melbourne, Australia is using her life savings to pay 15,000 Dollars a year on facelifts for Shar Pei dogs to prevent them from suffering eye problems. The designer dogs are bred to have folds of floppy flesh on their face, but the heavy skin forces their eyelids to turn in, causing their eyelashes to scratch their cornea, often leading to blindness.

18. Dog owners in New Taipei City, Taiwan, were given the chance to turn their pets waste into gold. In an attempt to clean up the streets , anyone handing in a bag of dog waste was entered in a lucky draw, the top prize being over a thousand Pounds in gold bars! It’s true what they say, where there’s muck there’s brass!

 And finally to finish on a light-hearted note I thought it would be good fun to look at the way Personal Adds are written so that I can decipher the “correct” meanings for anyone interested.


This statement in a Personal Add usually means : the car is stuck in the driveway with a blown cylinder head gasket.



This statement means : the person is barred from every licensed bar in the locality.


This statement suggests : the person sleeps rough in the ditch rows during the summer months.


This suggests that : the person supplements their income as a Drugs Courier.


This generally means : can’t cook/ won’t cook.


This usually means : heterosexuals need not apply.



This means : I’m looking for someone who does exactly what he’s/she’s told without complaint or whinging.



This usually means,, : Sarah Millican fan needs someone to make a cuppa during the commercial breaks.


This means : a (works from home) Pet Groomer needs help getting the dogs in and out the bath! 


NAVY  BLUE  (1945)

Navy Blue, (NPS.41.NS.2862) was a Blue Cock carrier pigeon who was awarded the Dickin Medal in March 1945. The citation read, “For successfully delivering an important message from a Raiding Party on the West Coast of France, although injured while serving with the R.A.F in June 1944”.

Navy Blue was chosen for the mission having displayed outstanding abilities with the R.A.F on Air Sea Rescue duties. The Raiding Party made a seaboard landing approx 200 miles from Navy Blue’s home loft in Plymouth, England. The bird was released overnight carrying a message of immense value to the intelligence branch concerned. Exhausted and injured, Navy Blue arrived back at his loft at 2.45am on 19th June, the message was immediately relayed to the relevant authorities.

* When the birds arrived home after a mission, on landing, wires in the coop would trigger a bell or buzzer which would alert a soldier from the Signal Core. He would remove the message from the leg canister and send it to it’s destination either by telegraph, field phone or by hand. *  

DUTCH  COAST  (1945)

Dutch Coast was a carrier pigeon, (NURP41.A.2164) who was awarded the Dickin Medal in March 1945. Dutch Coast was released from a dinghy by a ditched aircrew drifting off the Netherlands at 6.20am and carried a message back to R.A.F Syerston near Newark in Nottinghamshire. In April 1942 Dutch Coast flew for an amazing 7 ˝ hours, a total distance of 288miles or (464 km) under unfavourable weather conditions and close to the enemy coast while in service with the R.A.F.

* One of the worlds most famous news agencies, Reuters, started its European business by using trained homing pigeons. The service began in 1850 with 45 pigeons carrying the latest news and stock price’s from Aachen in Germany to Brussels in Belgium. The birds travelled the 76 miles in a record-breaking 2 hours. * 

BROAD  ARROW  (1945)

Broad Arrow, (41.BA.2793) was a carrier pigeon who received the Dickin Medal on October 1945. This carrier pigeon was responsible for bringing important messages from an enemy occupied country during May, June and August 1943 while serving with the Special Service from the Continent. 

Broad Arrow was trained on the estate of London store magnet Sir Ernest Debenham in Dorchester. The first two messages were sent from Vire and Saint-Sever in Northern France, areas that were to see fierce fighting the following year. Broad Arrow’s third flight was from an unidentified location, also believed to be in France.

*The National Pigeon Service was a voluntary civilian organisation formed in Britain in 1938. During the 1939-45 war this group alone, gave over 200,000 young pigeons to be used by the R.A.F, Army and Intelligence Services. *



Lest We Forget

Upon the outbreak of WWI the Medical services of the British Army were not prepared for this type of war. Although the last major conflict, the Boer War in South Africa also featured rifles, artillery and machine guns the casualties were much less due to the hot, dry environment. By contrast the water-logged trenches of WWI were built upon manure-ploughed fields of Northern Europe that were infection prone environments. There also existed the additional dangers of tetanus and gangrene.

If a Soldier was hit by a bullet, Iodine would be applied to disinfect the area, a sterile dressing would then be placed on the entry wound and exit wound. Unfortunately few casualties were that straight forward, heavily artillery shelling left large/small craters in no-mans-land, these craters would fill-up with “standing” water, hiding decomposing corpses or body parts and the deadly urine of rats. Any wounded soldier near these area’s would have a lot less chance of survival.

Bear in mind there was no Penicillin/ Antibiotics during WWI, the badly injured would be taken by horse drawn ambulance to a field hospital where they would be seen by a qualified doctor. Although the doctors were fully qualified they were made up from volunteers and  enlisted General Practitioner’s who were totally out of their depth in dealing with the horrendous injuries they faced.

 The worst injured would be ferried back to Britain but by a further sad twist of fate they were kept for hours in Railway sidings in south coast railway stations because the military top brass would not allow these men into London’s Stations during busy times in-case their injuries had a negative impact on the war effort. Sadly the big London hospitals was their best chance for recovery, yet many never made it off the train.  

1. In WWI trenches there were only 18 stretcher bearers per battalion of 700 men, apart from the more commonly known infestations of rats and lice the trenches also had to deal with an infestation of toads/frogs. Over 100,000 Chinese labourers were used by the British Army to help dig the trenches on the Western Front. By contrast to the British, the German trenches were built for the “long haul” and included bunk beds, furniture, cupboards, water tanks, basins with taps, electrical light and even doorbells!

2. After the end of WWII, the returning Australian soldiers tried to smuggle many mascots and pets home with them. Quarantine officer’s seized 21 dogs, 17 monkeys, 3 squirrels, a cat, rabbit, parrot and other types of bird from aboard returning troopships.

3. Ancient Romans adored cats, the cat was the only animal permitted inside the
sacred temples. Archaeologists have even found the remains of a cat buried alongside its owner in excavations at Pompeii. The Romans were largely responsible for importing large numbers of cats into Britain during their Empire building days.


The term “CRACKING UP” has it’s origins around the time of the American Civil War. At this time the makeup for women mostly consisted of beeswax, the women had to partially melt the makeup beside the fire before applying it. After several applications to the face it would harden but if the woman laughed or smiled too much the makeup would crack which made her face look like it was cracking up. Hence the phrase “your cracking me up”. 

The term “POSH” has it’s origins with the British who travelled to India in colonial days. Due to the heat of the sun, the rich passengers secured cabins on the Portside going East and the Starboard side when returning to Britain, which assured them the coolest part of the ship. It therefore became known as Port-out /Starboard-Home which was shortened to Posh.

The term “DOGFIGHT” originated during WWI. The pilot had to turn off the plane’s engines from time to time to prevent stalling when the plane turned quickly in the air. When the pilot restarted his engine in mid-air it sounded like dogs barking.

The term “JEANS” takes it’s name from the place this heavy cloth was first created, in Janua or it’s modern name of Genoa in Italy.

These  next 3 words became standard in British vocabulary during WWI. They are Indian in origin and were popularized by British troops returning from India to the Western Front.

“BLIGHTY” is derived from a Hindu word, meaning foreign country. “CHIT” is slang for a piece of paper, the word originated in the Indian Army. “CUSHY” meaning nice or comfortable was an Anglo-Indian word.



In 1917 a stray puppy wandered into the Yale University campus in America, where members of the 102nd Infantry Regiment were training. The Pit Bull Terrier won over the unit with his antics, participating in drills and even learning to salute with his right paw. Private J. Robert Conroy adopted the dog, named him Stubby and smuggled him to the front lines in France. Once there, exposure to mustard gas left stubby highly sensitive to the noxious fumes and was therefore able to warn the 102nd Regiment of imminent attacks. He also learned to locate wounded soldiers during patrols.

One day Stubby spotted a German Spy and attacked the bewildered man until reinforcements arrived, this achievement earned him the rank of Sergeant. In his 18 months of service, Stubby participated in 17 battles, survived a series of wounds and provided a much needed boost to the morale of his fellow soldiers. After the war he returned to America with his owner Conroy and became a national icon, leading parades and receiving awards. However there was one “bone of contention” between Stubby and his owner Conroy and that was, Sergeant Stubby outranked his owner who had only made Corporal!

4. To help stem the loss of blood from serious wounds, the U.S military have been testing a Plasma Knife, with a blade consisting of heated, ionized gas. The blade can cut through flesh just as easily as a steel scalpel but  it can also seal off the damaged flesh, stopping the bleeding and protecting against infection. 

5. During The Boer War (1899-1902) in South Africa there were several Russian ambulance wagons moving all over the high hills. They would watch a battle from the hillside and waited until it was finished, they would then move down to attend to the wounded on both sides. Boers takes it’s name from the Dutch and Afrikaan word for farmers.


In the 1950’s the World Health Organisation financed and supported the first ever team of over 14,000 parachuting cats into Borneo. The cats were delivered in crates that were dropped by the R.A.F over the town of Sarawak in Borneo.

During the 1950’s the Dayak people of Borneo tragically suffered an outbreak of malaria, spread by mosquitoes. The World Health Organisation sprayed the area with D.D.T, sadly various poisoned insects were eaten by geckoes which in turn were eaten by cats causing many deaths. With the depleted number of cats there was soon a massive outbreak of typhus and plague. Once the kittys’ landed the balance was restored.

6. Inseparable greyhounds Pete and Zoe were married in a canine ceremony  at an animal shelter in Cambridgeshire, England. The bride wore a specially made dress and afterwards she and her spouse devoured a three-tier liver cake. Staff at the shelter thought a wedding would be a good way to seal the dog’s love for each other and to ensure they would be adopted together. 

7. The Paris Catacombs, or underground cemeteries were built in the 18th Century to deal with the city’s rapid expansion where-by the cemeteries and mass graves were literally over flowing causing outbreaks of disease. The Catacombs run under the city streets at a depth of 65ft (20m), it contains the bones of 6 million Parisians. Different areas of the catacombs were used by French Resistance troops and the Occupying German forces as a safe base. The tunnels also served as air-raid shelters for the Parisians when needed.

8. During WWII the British Army used blow-up rubber tanks as decoys. Designed to look like a U.S. Sherman tank and easily carried by four men, they were deployed before the Normandy Landings in 1944 in an attempt to deceive the German Army.


Churchill’s affection for, and patience with cats grew over the war years. During the war Sir John Colville remembered an episode involving Tango a neutered marmalade cat in June 1941. The war was going badly, the British had evacuated Greece, Crete was falling and the navy had lost several ships in the Mediterranean. Colville recorded the lunch they shared that day.

“I had lunch with the P.M and the yellow cat/Tango which sat on a chair on his right-hand side and attracted most of his attention. While he brooded over war matters, he kept up a running conversation with the cat, cleaning its eyes with his napkin, offering it mutton and expressing his regret that it could not have any cream during wartime”.

Churchill’s cats shared the bed with Churchill’s feet and the latest war documents, their favourite pass time was nibbling Churchill’s toes through the bed sheets. Did the enemy really stand a chance?

9. During bomb raids on British cities the home occupier would cover all glass windows in paper tape, a form of masking tape. This prevented the glass from bursting into hundreds of sharp shards due to the blast force of a bomb. Also during bomb raids, candles would be ready for use in all rooms in-case any power cables or gas mains were ruptured.

10. The insurance company Scottish Widows, (The woman with the big black cloak) had it’s origins in a meeting in an Edinburgh coffee house in 1812. A group of eminent businessmen established in Scotland a general fund for securing provision for widows, sisters and other females. It became known as Scottish Widows and was set up against the backdrop of the Napoleonic War where many soldiers/breadwinners never returned and many of those who did were unfit for employment.  


The Zimmermann Telegram was a diplomatic proposal from Arthur Zimmermann the German Foreign Minister, made on behalf of the German Empire. It  invited Mexico to join WWI as Germany’s ally against the U.S.A, in return, the Germans would finance Mexico’s war and help to recover the territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The telegram also wanted Mexico to act as a “go between” to strengthen relations between Germany and Japan.

The proposal was intercepted and decoded by British Intelligence, when the contents were published in America  it outraged public opinion. This telegram along with the sinking of the passenger ship the Lusitania were instrumental in the U.S. Congress declared war on 6th April 1917.

To finish on a lighter note and as its Christmas :

11. There was a couple who had twin girls, they looked alike and had the same height and build however in nature they couldn’t be more different. The one was a born optimist while the other a born pessimist, The couple realising Christmas was coming, were wracking there brains to find gifts that would make the girls equally happy. They decided to give the pessimistic girl all the best selling toys and for the optimistic girl they placed a shovelful of manure on the bedroom floor.  

On Christmas morning they entered the pessimistic girls room but found her crying she complained that she didn’t have enough batteries, there was far too many instructions to read and that she would be unpopular at school with so many toys. Dejected they wandered into the other child’s room only to find her all excited and on cloud nine. Her mother asked her, “why are you so happy and excited”? the girl replied, “There’s gotta be a pony around here somewhere”!!  


THEO  (2012)

Theo was a 22 month old Springer Spaniel cross who died only hours after his soldier handler was killed, he will posthumously receive the Dickin Medal in October 2012. Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26 was killed by a sniper in Afghanistan on 1st March 2011, his devoted Springer Spaniel Theo was taken to Camp Bastion but died of a seizure hours later from the trauma of witnessing his handlers death.

Together they made a record 14 weapon and bomb finds in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan including raw bomb making materials and unearthing an underground tunnel leading to a room used by the insurgents. Liam of Kirkcaldy, Fife was awarded a posthumous Mention in Despatches for his bravery and was posthumously honoured with the M.B.E in September 2011. The two of them were inseparable in life and death. Colonel Neil Smith of The Royal Veterinary Corps said, “This very special dog and  handler undoubtedly prevented many soldiers and civilians being killed or injured”.

Liam was very proud of his dog and before he died he sent a letter to the P.D.S.A. urging them to nominate his brave companion for the Dickin Medal. The medal ceremony takes place in London, in (October) with family members hoping to be present. L/Cpl Tasker and Theo served with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps 104 Military Working Dog Squadron. Their role was to help search and clear roads and compounds, uncover hidden weapons, improvised explosive devices and bomb making equipment. This they did with distinction.


1. The military tank got its name during the time when they were first shipped over from Britain to northern France during WW1. For security reasons they were packed into huge wooden crates which were said to contain water tanks. Over time the name tank, just happened to stick.  

2. The U.S. Interstate Highway System requires that one mile in every five of motorway has to be straight so that these sections can be used as airstrips in times of war.

3. During WW11 French Resistance fighters would recognize fellow members by the slant of their beret. The Resistance fighters wore their berets according to the Spanish style rather than French. This subtle difference would not be noticed by the general population, only by the Resistance.   

Food  Rations

During WW1 in the heat of battle getting hot food to the front lines was impossible. Some soldiers lucky enough to have a small stove, or even candles, would boil up any food available  including stale biscuits, or add these biscuits to the canned food provided, this became known as Trench Stew.

The diet in the trenches was mainly bully-beef, (canned corn beef), bread and biscuits or Maconochie stew, (a thin vegetable soup/stew) made by an Aberdeen Company that had been providing Army rations since the Boer War. Heightened U-Boat activity during 1916 caused greater restrictions in food supplies. Bread had to be made from ground turnips, when vegetables ran out, weeds such as nettles were used in their soups and stews.

Some food items from WW1 that are still around today : Birds Custard, Oxo, Marmite, Lemon Curd, Baking Powder, Gelatine, Bournville Chocolate, Fry’s/Cadburys Cocoa Powder, Paxo Stuffing, Carnation Milk, Condensed Milk, Walnut Whips, Toffee Apples and Shredded Wheat. Edward’s Desiccated Soup, to which hot water was added was a fore runner of modern packet soup. Kleenex tissues were also in use although their main use was as gas-mask filters.

4. During the English Civil War which raged from 1642-1651, 300 tons of Cheshire Cheese was sent to Royalist troops in Scotland.

5.During WW11, Marmite was prescribed as a cure for tropical diseases such as burning feet and Beriberi for British Soldiers involved in jungle warfare in the Far East. Beriberi was a serious illness that could cause muscular, gastrointestinal or heart problems.

6. During WW11, medics low on blood supplies used coconut liquid as a substitute for blood plasma. The reason it was used was because it gave no body rejection problems, it was also in plentiful supply in the Far East and was clean and sterile.

7. While the Hiroshima atomic bomb was being built in New Mexico all applicants for menial jobs had to be illiterate. This was because the U.S. Authorities didn’t want staff reading secret papers.

American Civil War Dogs

The 2nd Kentucky Infantry had a mascot dog named Frank. The dog always accompanied his men into battle, carrying his own small haversack with rations around his neck. When his company was captured Frank was incarcerated along with them at Fort Donelson in Tennessee. He spent 6 months in prison before they were freed in an exchange deal. This much loved dog remained with the 2nd Kentucky Infantry for a further 2 years, not long after he was posted missing and was never seen again.

During the American Civil War many dog mascots were picked up along the way but a surprising number of animals were brought from home by the soldiers. Louis Pfieff joined the 3rd Illinois Infantry and brought his dog along, some time later the soldier’s wife was informed that her husband Louis was killed at the battle of Shiloh.

It was common for loved ones to search for fallen family members  and return them home for a proper funeral. Louis’s widow travelled from Illinois to Tennessee but could not locate the body however she did find the dog. The dog led her to a distant single grave where it was said the dog had kept a vigil for 12 days since his masters death, only leaving to find food.

The Rebel Yell was a battle cry used by the Confederates during the American Civil War. It’s purpose was to intimidate the enemy while also helping the Confederates to control their fear. Different units produced different versions of the sound, it is best described as a (hound cry mixed with a high pitched whooping sound). The origins of the sound is unclear but it is believed the sound is a mixture of Native American and Scottish Highland battle cry’s with the influence of hunting hounds.

The Forgotten Army Of Burma

The 14th Army were part of a British campaign to push the Japanese Army out of Burma during WW11, its soldiers were known as the “Forgotten Army”. This was due to the war in Europe having greater urgency and the long distance that the 14th Army were from Great Britain, in a time of limited communications.  The 14th Army was 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 the longest and bloodiest conflict of WW11, 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 of 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 chords under anaesthetic, they were then given a few days convalescence after. 

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 to November, 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 man 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!

8. A cat called Fred, came to be known as “Fred the undercover kitty” because of the work he did as an undercover agent for the New York Police Department. A man named Stephen Vassell was posing as a veterinarian in New York, but the authorities were having difficulty catching him in the act, so Fred stepped in to uncover the illegal operation.

In February 2006, Fred played a sick patient in a “sting” operation with his partner Stephanie Green-Jones. Together they were able to expose Vassell and his illegal operation. He has since been  charged with unauthorized veterinary practice, injuring animals and petty larceny. Fred retired soon after the arrest and has been re-trained as a Therapy Animal.

9. Cats and mankind have co-existed since the time grain boats were sailing down the Nile river, dropping off their cargo at the various grain silo’s/stores. Cats would be in demand to keep down the rodent population. It is believed that Phoenician cargo ships brought the first domesticated cats to Europe around 900 BC.

Many superstitions grew up around cats especially in sea-faring communities, if a cat licked it’s fur against the grain this would mean a hailstorm was coming. If a cat sneezed this meant rain and if it was frisky this meant a storm was on it’s way.

Back in 1914 Emmy was a ship’s cat on board R.M.S. Empress of Ireland, she was a tabby cat who never missed a voyage. On May 28th 1914 Emmy  escaped from the ship, the crew could not coax her back aboard, so the Empress had to sail without her. She was reportedly last seen on the roof of the shed at pier 27, watching her ship sail out of Quebec City. Early the next morning the Empress collided with the S.S. Storstad while steaming through fog at the mouth of the St Lawrence river and rapidly sank, killing over 1,000 people.

Egypt During WW11

Around the time British Troops started arriving in Egypt they had to make the perilous journey through the Mediterranean. For along time during WW11 the Med was dominated by German and Italian Surface and U-Boat fleets. The British ships sailed in a convoy formation, observing “radio silence” and a lighting blackout with the exception of some small but important navigation lights.  

The captain came over the Tannoy and briefly asked how everyone was, he sounded calm and controlled like a Package Holiday Airline pilot, he then said, “Do try and not fall overboard as we can’t stop to pick you up”. You never saw so many men pull away from the railing , you’d been forgiven for thinking someone had wired the railings to a 240V supply. Up to that point the war had been an adventure for the men but now the reality had sunk in.

On finishing training as Aircraft Mechanics some volunteered to join a Rescue and Recovery boat Squadron that operated on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. Like todays lifeboats there was a Coxwain, Mechanic and crew, their main function was to pick up “downed” British pilots before the Germans arrived. The British were in a position to replace aircraft quite easily, the problem was that the British had lost so many pilots during the courageous Battle of Britain that their numbers were always low and pilots were like gold dust.

Along with the pilots they would attempt to salvage as many parachutes as possible because they were made from silk, a commodity difficult to ship over from the far east in wartime. Most airplanes that “ditched” were usually making their way to R.A.F. Alexandria. The small highly powered boats of the British had advantage over German Craft but only over short distances. 

Clandestine operations were also carried out by the boat crew, this meant British Spies would be transported under a cover of darkness to various Islands off German occupied Greece or Greek islands. They would also pick up spies from similar locations sadly many never made it back and the boat had only a small “time window” to operate in or they could fall victim of an ambush if the intelligence was compromised.

On some occasions the boats were dressed up to look like a Felucca, a traditional Egyptian sailing boat which must have been quite a sight, as they opened up the throttle and started skimming across the Med with the bow 4ft in the air! Any German on watch duty must of thought there’s either one helluva storm brewing or its time for a few hours rest!!

Once again to finish on a lighter note, this is  an article that appeared in the Otago Daily Times.


Seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I’m a very good looking girl who loves to play, I love long walks in the woods, camping and cosy nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand, rub me the right way and watch me respond. I’ll be at the front door when you get home from work wearing only what nature gave me. Kiss me and I’m yours, please phone  and ask for Daisy.

Over 15,000 men found themselves talking to the Otago  branch of the S.P.C.A about a 8 week old black Labrador Retriever! (Aren’t we men so predictable!)  


MARQUIS  (1945)

Marquis was a carrier pigeon who was awarded the Dickin Medal in October 1945. The citation read, “For bringing important messages three times from enemy occupied countries in May 1943 (Amiens), February 1944,(Combined Operations) and June 1944, (French Marquis) while serving with the Special Service from the Continent”. 

The French Marquis were rural guerrilla groups of the French Resistance. They were initially made up from men who had escaped into the mountains to avoid forced labour deportation to Germany via the Vichy “puppet” French government. They went on to help British agents with sabotage, spying and misinformation.

Amiens is a city approximately 75 miles north of Paris, in Feb 1944 working from intelligence gathered, British airplanes bombed the prison in Amiens as part of operation Jericho. The raid was carried out to aid the escape of French Resistance and political prisoners being held there, in all 258 prisoners escaped.

*Carrier pigeons proved valuable during the Gulf War as their messages were unaffected by electronic jamming.*

COLOGNE  (1947)

Cologne was a Red Cock carrier pigeon in service with the R.A.F. who was awarded the Dickin Medal in 1947. The citation read, “despite being injured, Cologne made it home to it’s base after being released from a crashed aircraft over Cologne in 1943”.

Cologne Cathedral suffered 70 hits by aerial bombing during WWII, it did not collapse but stood tall in an otherwise flattened city. One reason why the Cathedral had survived the worst punishment was possibly because the twin spires made an easily recognized navigational landmark for Allied aircraft raiding deeper into Germany during the later stages of the war. Cologne Cathedral is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

*Pigeons, like humans can see in colour, but unlike humans they can also see ultra violet light, as a result, pigeons are often used in search & rescue missions at sea. Due to this unique sense, combined with excellent all round vision, they are trained to pick out red and orange life jackets. They can also see over a distance of 26 miles and have a 340 degree field of vision.*

ALL  ALONE  (1946)

All Alone was a carrier pigeon who received the Dickin Medal in February 1946. The citation read, “ For delivering an important message following a flight of over 400 miles in one day in August 1943 while serving with the National Pigeon Service”.

* In the 17th century, King George 1st of England decreed that all pigeon droppings were the property of the crown and that all the pigeon lofts were policed to enforce the law. This was because pigeon manure provided the only known source of Saltpetre, a substance essential in the manufacture of gunpowder.

The first organised pigeon air-mail service began in 1896 between New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef. Up to 5 messages were carried by each pigeon and special pigeon-gram stamps were issued costing 2 Shillings each or (20 Cents).*  


1. During the first World War, Maria Dickin was shocked by the dreadful state of animal health in the East end of London. Despite the scepticism of the establishment the P.D.S.A’s founder opened her free dispensary in a Whitechapel basement in London on the 17th November 1917. The organisation grew when Maria with just a single vet started to treat animals in rural area’s using an old converted Gypsy caravan.

2. Trummerfrau is translated from German into English as “ruins woman” or “rubble women”. These women were responsible in helping to clear and reconstruct the bombed cities of Germany and Austria in the aftermath of WWII. The rubble women were constantly occupied from 1945 - 1949.

3. In many countries around the world, black cats are considered unlucky, this is not the case in Great Britain thanks to a black ship’s cat called Tiddles. Born aboard H.M.S. Argus, Tiddles was to see service on many Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers and became the official Captains cat on H.M.S. Victorious in the early 1940’s. He was to successfully  travel over 30,000 miles during his Naval Service, his favourite place on deck was up on the capstan playing with the ship’s bell rope!

4. A German Shepherd dog named Tommy was the WWI mascot of a Scottish Regiment and always went over the top with his men. He was wounded 3 times and gassed when his custom made gas mask was not put on in time, he was also captured. He went on to received the French military medal, Croix de Guerre or (Cross of War) for bravery. This medal was first introduced by the French in 1915 as an award for Allied acts of bravery.

5.From 1966 - 1973 it is believed that approximately 5,000 U.S. war dogs served in the Vietnam War. There was 10,000 U.S. servicemen who served as dog handlers during the war and the K9 units are estimated to have saved over 10,000 human lives!


The Bevan Boys was the name given to British men conscripted to work in British coalmines from Dec 1943 - 1948. The Bevan Boy’s took their name from British Labour politician Ernest Bevan who was the Minister for Labour in the war-time coalition government.

By 1943 the coal mines had lost 36,000 men to War service also Britain was unable to import coal at that time due to U boat attacks. Not long after, 48,000 Bevan Boys were conscripted to perform vital service in the mines, sadly their efforts went mainly unrecognised compared to that of the armed services. Some famous Bevan Boys were comedy actor Brian Rix, Comedian Eric Morecambe and Footballer Nat Lofthouse.

6. Cats and humans have similar regions in their brain dedicated to emotions. A cats brain is more similar to a human brain than that of a dog. The only mammals with prostrates are humans and dogs.

7. During WWI, Germany had an advanced programme of war trained dogs, one branch of dogs were known as Sanitatshunde or (Sanitary Dogs). These dogs were equipped with saddlebags of medical supplies, they sought out the wounded and gave comfort to the dying.  

If any dog found a wounded man they were trained to carry their short leach in their mouth as an indicator. Allied dogs would respond to finding a wounded man by returning with a helmet or part of the uniform.

8. Herbert Chalkley was a WWII British sailor who was awarded the D.S.M, (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!

9. Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess owned a greyhound that raced throughout the war at a track in South Wales. Nimrod the dog was given to Hess after he flew to Britain in 1941 in an attempt to sue for peace. Hess was arrested after landing on Eaglesham Moor, Renfrewshire and was held as a P.O.W. in South Wales.

Nimrod was given to Hess in an effort to take his mind off committing suicide, after the war Hess was jailed for life in Spandau Prison in the former East Germany, he died in 1987.


Frodo is a young Beagle dog who likes barking, climbing out of windows, hurtling along the local beach like a mad thing, chewing through anything he can get his paws on and generally being very naughty. He is also one of the most courageous dogs in the country. 

In 2008 he saved his owner Jenny Barwise, her parents and her fiancé from certain death when the family home in Cumbria, burnt down. In front of a huge crowd of important dignitaries and world wide TV crews naughty little Frodo was presented with the highest award for civilian bravery by H.R.H. Princess Alexandria at the Tower of London.



As we all bask in the afterglow of team GB’s achievements and the wonderful opening and closing ceremonies lets take a light hearted look at events from previous Olympics.

ROME 1960 To prepare himself for the heat of Rome, where he won the 50-km walk, Britain’s Don Thompson kept the heat on at all times in his bathroom for 18 months, running up a bill of thousands of pounds. On returning home from his triumph he found that the gas had been cut off. (He could take heart from the fact that many people today have their gas cut off yet their house isn’t  even warm! )

MONTREAL 1976 Having arrived in Canada for the games the Czech cycling team had the misfortune of losing all their wheels and spare tyres when the bin men mistakenly took them away to be crushed! (None of the Czech Cycling team became avid users of the Euro Lottery).

ATHENS 1896 The swimming races for these games took place in the Mediterranean Sea, which was so cold that many competitors, numb from the chill, gave up and had to be rescued by boat. (They can count themselves lucky they were not swimming in the Pentland Firth in Skimpy Speedos. You could cancel the rescue boat, top priority would be a defibulator!)

TOKYO 1964 At the medal ceremony for the Marathon, won by Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, the stadium band did not know the Ethiopian national anthem, so they played the Japanese one instead! (This problem could have been easily rectified if Hey Jude was written sooner!)

STOCKHOLM 1912 Exhausted by the heat of the Marathon in Sweden, Japan’s Shizo Kanaguri stumbled into the garden of a family who were enjoying  a picnic. He decided to stay with them rather than rejoin the race! (That’s what I call the true Olympic spirit!) 

MEXICO 1968 (I recall a major potato crisp company offering an all expenses trip to the Mexico games if they could produce a large number of empty packets, in my quieter moments I wonder if anyone ever won the holiday and did they manage to avoid, Type 2 Diabetes.)  


MOSCOW 1980 Was the scene of Allan Wells Winning 100m Gold  and 200m Silver’ (Alan was regarded as one of the finest bend runners in athletics, I never saw better until the time the carpet fitter chased my cats from the bedroom!)

BARCELONA 1992 Moments before he was due to fight, Iranian boxer Ali Kazemi was disqualified because he had forgotten his gloves! (You know what it’s like, you go abroad,you either forget something important or your luggage gets crushed by the binmen!)

RIO 2016 (I think it’s time for a new event and because the games are taking place in Rio, why not have, The Hairymens Brazillian Wax, this would consist of all the men having their legs and “bikini line” waxed. The gold medal would be won by the competitor who was last to scream for an epidural!)


Ruhr Express was a dark chequered cock carrier pigeon that was bred by the R.A.F. Having undergone training at Detling near Maidstone in Kent, he performed 2 years of consistently good work in Air Sea Rescue, he was later to be selected for a special operation behind enemy lines.

Ruhr Express was dropped behind enemy lines and had to race 300 miles, (480km) back to his loft on the roof of a requisitioned building at Piccadilly, London. The message contained great importance regarding the German Army, the day after Ruhr Express arrived back in London, General Omar Bradley launched an attack which split the Ruhr Pocket in two. On the 16th of April 1945 the eastern half collapsed and by the 18th of April the entire garrison of some 325,000 men including 30 generals had surrendered.

Ruhr Express was awarded the Dickin Medal in May 1945, the citation read, “For carrying an important message from the Ruhr Pocket in excellent time while serving with the R.A.F. in 1945”.

*German Soldiers were given a lavish reward if they found and handed into the authorities any British carrier pigeons.*


The Duke of Normandy was a cock pigeon that was awarded the Dickin Medal on the 8th January 1947. The citation read, “For being the first bird to arrive with a message from Paratroops of the 21st Army Group from behind enemy lines on D-Day the 6th June 1944 while serving with the National Pigeon Service”.

The British 21st Army Group was comprised of British, Canadian, Free French and Polish Units. They started landing on the Normandy beaches in Higgin’s Boats between 7.30 and 7.45 on  D-Day morning.

*The ribbons on the Dickin Medal are coloured green, dark brown and pale blue representing water, earth and air. This was to symbolise the naval, military, civil defence and air-force. *

BILLY  (1945)

Billy was a blue cock carrier pigeon who was awarded the Dickin Medal in March 1945. The citation read, “For delivering a message from a forced landed bomber, while in a state of complete collapse and under exceptionally bad weather conditions while serving with the R.A.F in 1942”.

Bomber Command always carried 2 pigeons that could be released if the aircraft force landed. The pigeons were initially released from an open door of the stricken plane but it was found they were de-feathered in the windblast and prop wash. Finally they decided to release the pigeon in a container with a small parachute.

*Sadly, of the 17,000 pigeons that were parachuted into occupied territory only 1 in 8 made it back. * 


1.The National Canine Defence League not only protected dogs but they also used  dog-hair combings to knit into clothing for the British troops.

2.One of the most famous U.S Military dogs was called Chips, a German Shepherd/Collie/Husky mix. Chips attacked and captured a crew of enemy machine gunners fortified in a pillbox on Sicily in 1943.

Slugs on the Western Front

After the wet weather we’ve all been having, most people are cursing the amount of  slugs devouring all the garden plants, however slugs were a great asset to the Allies during WWI. They proved to be extremely sensitive at detecting poison gas which allowed time for the men to react to the incoming gas and don their gas masks. The slugs had a method of shutting off their breathing when the gas struck, this meant they survived intact and could be reused for future use. The slugs were kept on the front line in shoeboxes with wetted sponges inside.

3.In early WWI gas masks, the poisonous gases were absorbed by a wood charcoal filter. In the later years of WW1 it was found that charcoal produced from coconut & chestnut shells, peach stones and other seeds produced a better filter. These waste materials were collected from the public in re-cycling programmes to assist the war effort.

4. An anti-landmine organization in Belgium uses African giant pouched rats to sniff out deadly landmines in Mozambique and Tanzania. The rats relatively light weight means they are unlikely to explode the mines, even when scratching at the ground to indicate their whereabouts. These super rats, trained with food rewards, can also smell the life-threatening disease tuberculosis, analyzing samples more than 50 times quicker than a laboratory scientist!

5.During WWII it was common for bombed out Vets practices to conduct their business on the street pavement. The animal inspection table was cleaned up, chairs were brought outside and “normal” service was resumed. During the Blackout car headlights had to be taped over leaving just a thin strip of light and hand torches could only be used if placed in a bag or covered in tissue paper to weaken the beam.

The Pathe News 

During WWII there were very few televisions in Britain, most people found out the latest news from the newspaper, radio or from the Pathe News. The Pathe News was a short news film that played in local cinemas to boost morale, it’s content was heavily controlled by the Ministry of Information. My favourite clip from the Pathe news was that of a little old lady wearing those old prescription glasses clutching her cat in her arms, who appeared from her bombed out house to announce, “It’ll take more than a few Doodle Bugs to scare me and Daisy”!  

The Pathe news reels always reminded the audience of the codeword CROMWELL, this was the sign that Britain had been invaded. No church bells rang in Britain for most of the war, if the bells started ringing, this was to warn everyone of an invasion. The same rule applied during WWI under the (Defence of the Realm Act 1914).

7. During the Cold War years the C.I.A attempted to use cats as a bugging device, in a project known as Operation Acoustic Kitty. They surgically placed a small bugging device inside the cat and ran an aerial through its tail. The project never got off the ground despite an investment of $15,000,000 and 5 years research. There was an “alleged” rumour that the project was abandoned because the cats cover was blown, each time they entered the Russian Embassy the T.V channels kept changing! 

The Finnish “Soup War” 

Russia and Finland were to find themselves at war during WWII, Russia under Stalin wanted a piece of Finnish territory as a buffer/protector for Lenningrad against German aggression. The Finns refused fearing it was only the beginning of more and more demands from Russia.

The Finns although outnumbered fought a very astute guerrilla war, they travelled on skis and used reindeer to haul supplies on sleds. On one occasion the Russians had been successful in over-running a Finnish encampment, rather than hunting down the fleeing enemy, the starving Russians could not resist the cauldrons of hot sausage soup. As they were busy enjoying the hot soup the Finns re-grouped and ambushed the Russians.

The Big Push

Towards the last days of WWI the German Army was to organize one last “big push” to win the war. They were initially successful in forcing back the Allies who had abandoned their trench positions. As the Germans started occupying the former Allied trenches they were to make a discovery that would tip the balance of the war.

Inside the British trenches the Germans found far greater quantities and quality of food that any German soldier had seen, even more damaging was the lie they we’re told by their own senior officers that German ships had blockaded all British ports and Britain was on the brink of starvation. Word swept through the ranks like wildfire, not long after the Allies launched a counter-offensive and soon re-took their former positions. It was now the turn of the allies to gain the upper-hand, this time decisively. Was a tin of Bully Beef the straw that broke the camels back?

Freda The Duck

An unusual statue has been 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 and she was credited with saving many hundred’s of lives.


For better or for worse

And finally, to finish on a lighter note. The C.I.A had an opening for an assassin, after all the background checks, interviews and tests were complete there were 3 hopeful candidates, 2 men and a women. For the final test the C.I.A took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun, “we must know you will follow our instructions, no matter the circumstances”. 

Inside this room you will find your wife sitting in a chair, Kill her! The man said , you can’t be serious, I could never shoot my wife. The C.I.A. informed the man he was not suitable for the job, take your wife and go home. The second man was given the same instructions, he took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for 5 minutes, the man then came out with tears in his eyes and said, “I tried but I can’t kill my wife”. The agent said, “you don’t have what it takes, take your wife and go home”.

Finally it was the woman’s turn, she was given the same instructions to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room, shots were heard one after another. They heard screaming, crashing and banging on the walls, after a few minutes all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and declared, “the gun was loaded with blanks, so I had to beat him to death with the chair”!!