Animals and war book – University of Chicago Press
I have recently signed a contract with the University of Chicago Press to write a book on the cat and dog massacre in 1939 and the subsequent animal-human relationship during the Second World War on the Home Front in Britain.
There is a huge amount of material about non-human animals in published (and unpublished) diaries, memoirs and even official accounts of the war that has been overlooked. Home Guard accounts, for example, noted the plight of animals. In a valedictory publication in June 1945 the Poplar chief warden reflected: ‘Perhaps the most pitiful sight of this nightly scene of devastation was the behaviour of stray dogs and cats…’
Animals were widely observed during the war: the owls coming into central London during the blackout; birds singing in Green Park; the Siamese cat draped round his human companion’s neck in Holland Park; a rabbit found running around Piccadilly Circus – a lost regimental mascot…
Yet today much of this is unknown in the public domain, though it still features in family stories and memories.
I will be placing updates and extracts from the draft chapters here. I am always interested in hearing family stories /memories of people’s relationships with companion animals during the war – or suggestions for things to read – so please do contact me.