war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


Both World Wars


For those of you who have a soft spot for our animal friends - occasionally we find information about how they fared during the wars.

courtesy Dover Express
Horse being landed at Boulogne, August 1914


In October "Mick", an Irish terrier, who had belonged to an officer in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers stationed at Dover, was believed to have traveled with troops across the channel to find his master in the trenches. Mick was twice wounded, and then returned to London, where photographs of him were sold in aid of the Red Cross. An article about him appeard in "Animals' Friend" in February 1916.

On 4 December 1914 notification was given that the government were using carrier pigeons, and that no one should therefore shoot at any such birds seen. Found carrier pigeons which had lost their way should be handed in to the police. 

On Christmas Day 1914 the RSPCA fund for sick and wounded horses reported donations totalling 4 11s 0d


16 April. The only casualty of a raid on Sittingbourne and Faversham by an enemy plane

17 May - bomb set fire to a fowl house in Ramsgate. It's uncertain whether any poultry were inside.
4/5 June. One horse killed at Twydall Farm, Rainham, two at Brandon Street Gravesend, by bombs.


1 March - at Clarendon Road, Broadstairs a bomb cut through a chain tethering a dog to a kennel; the dog bolted in fright

19/20 May - chicken killed at Dumpton, by bomb


On 22 August a horse was killed by a bomb that fell in the Keep Yard at Dover Castle.


In October the public were informed that there had been several incidences of carrier pigeons being shot down. They were reminded of the vital work of the pigeons, and reminded that there was a fine of 100 or six months imprisonment with or without hard labour, or both penalties, should a pigeon be shot down, wounded, or not handed over to the uthoritis, or should anyone with any information of such occurences neglect to report it. As added incentive, anyone reporting an incident would receive a reward of 5.


Mr Banks was carrying a dog when he was fatally injured during the blackout by a bus. The dog survived and ran away yelping.


By April 1940, 100,000 sheep had been moved from the Romney Marsh, where they were considered as both booty in a possible invasion and a potential hindrance to resistance and defence. Six sheep died in the move.

On 21 August 1940, a chaffinch was killed when two bombs fell on allotments behind the Dover railway at Canterbury.

On 11 September 1940 Mr Walker and his dog were sheltering during a raid under his boat on the beach by Granville gardens. Both were killed by a bomb

On 22 September a Hunt kennels in SE England was bombed and flattened. None of the thirty hounds was hurt, though some dozen were thrown twenty feet or more by the blast. Hounds were all found within three hours.

In December it was reported that .the fat content of their milk was good during June, July, and August, but diminished in September to a subnormal average. This may have been owing to the colder nights, but it was also suggested this may have occurred through enemy air raids, as there was some evidence to suggest fat content was less when cows had been scared by explosions.

7 October 1940. The pony belonging to Mr and Mrs Moore, which used to pull their shop delivery cart, was killed when a bomb fell. Mr and Mrs Moore were seriously injured. 


10 October 1941. An RSPCA report stated that a dog, three cats, fourteen rabbits, a chicken, and two canaries were killed outright during a recent air-raid in the South-Eastern area. The RSPCA Inspector had to give first aid to three dogs, but three cats and another dog injured were put to sleep. A number of other animals were rescued and temporarily housed; a total of 106 animals were handled.

17 October 1941. A report stated that five in-calf cows near a south-east town had been killed outright or needed to be put to sleep through enemy action, and one cow was injured on the shoulder and flank.

October 1941. Lost when HMS Cossack was torpedoed was "Pluto". He had been purchased for half-a-crown in Malta, and was on board during the 2nd Battle of Narvik, the Altmark incident, and at the sinking of the Bismarck.


2 January 1942. A report on animal casualties gave seven sheep killed and five injured, a cat killed, a heifer and a pig injured, a dog and a cat severely shocked, and a further casualty of a duck.

16 January 1942. A flock of twenty sheep strayed into a mined area. Seven were killed by the mines, the unretrievable remainder of the sheep were shot in order to avoid detonating any further mines.  

April 1942. Two tame rabbits were stolen by Robert Alfred Perry and Alec Frank Robinson, two soldiers, from a man in Guston. The soldiers then tried to sell the rabbits at the Dublin Man o' War, River. Robert Perry soldiers said he was a married man and needed the money. They were both sentenced to short spells of imprisonment.

1 May 1942. A cat became trapped in the chimney of a bomb-damaged building. It was located after nearly a month and released by removing bricks in the chimney breast. The cat, although rather thin, ran away immediately it was rescued.

Cow and Bullocks
On 10 November it was reported that a shell at Bockhill Farm had killed a cow and three bullocks


5 February 1943. A report states that during recent bombing attacks the RSPCA recorded 12 cats, 8 dogs, 27 sheep, 8 fowls, and 7 domestic rabbits killed, with "quite a large number" of injured animals being treated at clinics.

12 March 1943. "Flash" was a white West Highland terrier. He had been on board the Norwegian Tanker Tankexpress when she was torpedoed by a U-boat in the South Atlantic in July 1942. All the crew were picked up by HMS Lightning a week later and safely put ashore in Gibraltar. Their dog they gave to HMS Lightning, where he was renamed "Flash" and looked after by CPO Jago.

HMS Lightning was torpedoed on 12 March 1943 in the Mediterranean. Forty four men were lost, including Alfred Silk. "Flash" was last seen swimming in the water, looking for his master.

with thanks to John Dann

and cat

HMS Lightning features also in the nautical narrative of "Unsinkable Sam". He is said to have been a black-and-white cat found floating on wreckage by HMS Lightning after the sinking of the Ark Royal on 13 November 1941. He gained the name "Unsinkable" through having already survived, named Oskar, the sinking of the Bismarck, west of Brest, France, on 27 May 1941, and then the torpedo damage and subsequent loss of HMS Cossack in October 1941. There is a portrait entitled "Oscar, the Bismarck's cat" at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

23 April 1943. A tortoise was found under five feet of soil. It had been buried by the debris from a bomb which fell in Albert Road some six months before. On its back, it was nevertheless seemingly none the worse for its imposed hibernation as it was still alive.

Autumn 1943. Dover Museum was severely damaged by air raids, and the Plomley collection of Kentish birds was destroyed. The collection was a century old, and contained specimens of now-extinct animals.


4 February 1944. A report states that during recent air raids 11 cows and 12 calves were burnt to death, and 5 cows and a bull were so badly burnt they had to be put down.

The RSPCA recorded 8 dogs, 20 cats, 23 rabbits, and 8 fowls also needing attention; most could be treated

29 June 1944. Watkin's piggeries at Aycliffe were struck by shell. Pigs and possibly also other animals killed. At Great Farthingloe Farm a cow and a pig were killed.

A variety of (so far) secondary sources have been used, including the Dover Express, and "A Glint in the Sky" by Martin Easdown with Thomas Genth

Copyright 2009 - 14 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved