Monday, July 11, 2011

Cats in Wartime

Here's something interesting. Namely, a website devoted to cats in wartime: It's full of many interesting stories and photos; you should check it out.

My favorite story from the site:

" Colonel Fred J Christensen was an American World War 2 flying ace, thought to be the last surviving one until he died in April 2006. He flew P-47 Thunderbolts with the 56th Fighter Group, known as the Wolfpack; he is credited with shooting down 22 German warplanes, including an amazing six in just a few minutes of one day in 1944. From early in 1943 the Wolfpack was based in Britain.

Christensen attributed much of his good luck to a small black kitten he had found and adopted while in Britain; he called it Sinbad and it flew in the cockpit with him on many of his missions. The cat might not have been taken on high-altitude missions, which could have harmed it, but in any case the Thunderbolt flew mostly on lower-altitude support sorties. One of the colonel's daughters, Diane Haagensen, said that seeing her father return safe and sound from his missions, complete with Sinbad, was a great help in motivating other pilots.
One day a reporter and photographer came to the base to do a feature on the Wolfpack, and of course wanted a picture of Sinbad — but the cat played hard to get and kept leaping around and cavorting among the stack of parachutes! Eventually a photo was obtained (middle left) — and it is reported that all the pilots whose parachutes Sinbad touched that day returned safely, many with victories to their credit. Naturally this increased the cat's prestige and reputation for being lucky.
Sinbad survived all the flying unscathed and in September 1944 returned with Christensen to the United States, when his tour of duty ended, to live with his family — and surprised them all by producing kittens! Sinbad had been a female all along, and went on to have several litters of youngsters. Sadly, as with all too many cats and although she had survived the perils of WW2 flying, she was killed by a car in the early 1950s."

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