An officer of Landw.J.R.68 surrounded by kittens south of Metz, France, 1915.
A Canadian soldier with ‘Tabby’, his unit’s mascot, on Salisbury Plain on 27 September 1914.
So the Lafayette Escadrille had lion mascots right which predictably resulted in 99% of the pilots getting injured at some point during the war
But look how much they fucking loved Raoul Lufbery
right okay let’s play ‘what happened to these two adorbs lion cubs caught up in the Great War’ via 2am Google and some background scrounging well kids
Bit of background: the Lafayette Escadrille thought they were fucking hilarious and adopted a male lion cub they called Whiskey because they fed him an entire saucerful of the stuff as a wee baby. Kiffin, Thaw, Hill, Johnson, and Hall bought him in Paris in September 1916, when he was four months old. Whiskey became the squadron’s mascot and was soon joined by Soda the female cub, as the pilots worried Whiskey was getting lonely (HE CLEARLY WASN’T LOOK AT ALL THE FUN HE WAS HAVING WITH LUFBERY anyway). The pilots all liked the lions a lot even though their leisure activities of choice mostly consisted of jumping on them but just look at them all (Soda’s in the guy seated second from left’s arms Whiskey is on everyone’s laps with Lufbery holding his head)
As far as I can tell, Lufbery was mostly in charge of the lions/possibly preferred their company; Soda was by all accounts the more stand-offish of the two, but he was the only person she never bit. Whiskey, on the other hand, was ‘a cute, bright-eyed baby who tried to roar in a most ferocious manner, but who was blissfully content the moment one gave him a finger to suck’, and Lufbery’s favourite though he clearly liked the shitstirrer as well look
On 15 October 1917, the lions were made to leave because Whiskey the little shit knocked down the CO Philippe Fequant and chewed up his tunic and cap ‘playfully’ CUTE/apparently that top photo is oh no the pilots gathered ‘round to say goodbye to the cubs on their last day look at Lufbery being a bit despondent
But good news the Paris Zoo took them (Lufbery was given leave to bring them to Paris fuck this)! Though according to this fucking horrific NYT story from 1919, both of the lions had contracted ‘rheumatism’ from sharing ‘the Americans’ draughty wooden hut at Cachy in the region of the Somme’/not having any heating once they were moved due to coal shortages, and subsequently Soda died in May 1919. Thenault came to visit Whiskey in July of that year and he was super unwell, but jumped up and licked his hands even though he hadn’t seen him for nearly two years OH NO then ‘stood looking after him for a moment, then limped back to the corner where he spends all him time listlessly huddled’ JESUS CHRIST THIS IS A FIVE ACT FUCKING TRAGEDY
Then they got their own memorial statues at the Lafayette Escadrille memorial in Villeneuve l’Étang nice try guys A+ for the animal abuse what is this fucking War Horse
Moral of the story is don’t bring your lion to war and don’t trust the Paris Zoo
meanwhile on ‘I am stupid-obsessed with a pilot no one has written anything about’ and ‘so I made that aviation history sideblog’
A British volunteer of Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps holding her regiment’s mascot.
Pilot and observer inside the cockpit of a two-man biplane, in France, during World War I. Holding up the regimental mascot of a pet dog and with big smiles on their faces, a pilot and an observer are pictured before setting out on a journey over enemy lines.
Original reads: ‘OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. A cheery pilot and observer with their mascot pup ready for a flight over the German lines.’
War Kitties in Hammocks
Carriers and other vessels got infested with rodents. So cats were not just moral boosters (which they very much were) they were also working members of the crew. Some have even been immortalized for surviving multiple attacks on their ships, etc. Military dogs have been recognized for the important roles they’ve played but I think cats kinda get lost in the shuffle of military animals sometimes.
This is an instant reblog.