The Brave Cats Who Helped Soldiers Win World War I

During World War I, cats were a common sight. You’ll find these brave, fluffy creatures in the trenches and aboard ships, in which an estimated 500,000 of them were dispatched to help the soldiers by killing mice and rats, as well as serving as gas detectors.

Here are 17 photos of them:

1. Togo the cat mascot of the battleship HMS Dreadnought.

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IWM

2. Two cats pose in the breech of a 4-inch caliber gun aboard an unidentified U.S. ship.

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U.S. Naval Institute

3. A cat looks up at an unidentified soldier, Gallipoli Peninsula, 1915.

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Australian War Memorial

4. British soldier playing with mascot.

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Illustrated War News, Vol. 7, London, 1918

5. Portrait of Company O’Connor on August 12th, 1915.

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Australian War Memorial

6. Ship’s cat strutting along the barrel of a 15-inch gun on the deck of the HMS Queen Elizabeth in Gallipoli Peninsula, 1915.

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Bibliotheque nationale de France

7. Two men of the 9th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders (15th Division) with their pet cat “Martinpuich” August 25th, 1916.

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IWM

8. Officers of the U.S. 2nd Army Corps with a cat they discovered in the ruins of Le Cateau-Cambrésis.

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Pictorial Record of the 27th Division

9. Ship’s cat aboard the HMAS Encounter.

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Wikipedia

10. Studio portrait of a soldier holding a kitten in Melbourne, 1915.

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Australian War Memorial

11. “Spark Plug” was the mascot of this plane.

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Library of Congress

12. A sailor on board the Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Swan shaking the paw of “Ching” the ship’s mascot.

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Australian War Memorial

13. A gunner with the regimental cat in a trench in Cambrin, France, February 6th, 1918.

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IWM

14. Sailor on board the HMAS Melbourne holding two of the ship’s cats, 1917.

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Australian War Memorial

15. A Canadian soldier with “Tabby” the unit’s mascot, on Salisbury Plain, September 27th, 1914.

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IWM

16. Another kitten mascot.

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kinja-img

17. “Pincher” the mascot of the HMS Vindex, sitting on the propeller of one of the sea planes carried by the ship.

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Wikipedia

Here’s the true value of cats during war as explained by the U.S. Naval Institute:

“It is likely that the ancient Egyptians were the first seafarers to realize the true value of having cats as shipmates. In addition to offering sailors much needed companionship on long voyages, cats provided protection by ridding ships of vermin.

“Without the presence of cats, a crew might find their ship overrun with rats and mice that would eat into the provisions, chew through ropes and spread disease. The more superstitious sailors believed that cats protected them by bringing good luck.”

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