Would you be willing to have your dog or cat killed for the sake of the the war effort? That is exactly what the British government asked citizens to do in 1939.
The British government formed the National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee (NARPAC) in 1939 to decide what to do with pets before war broke out. They feared that they would need to ration food and that pet owners would split their rations with their pets or leave them to starve.
A pamphlet was published that suggested moving pets from cities to the country. It further stated that “if you cannot place them in care of neighbours, it is really kindest to have the destroyed.” The pamphlet contained an ad for a bolt pistol that could be used to kill them.
When war broke out in September 1939 people flocked to vet clinics to have their cats and dogs killed. I can’t imagine this, taking your furry friend to have them killed because the government told them to do it.
Between 1939 and 1940 over 750,000 furry friends were killed as it turns out unnecessarily. Many organizations and individuals fought against this massacre and successfully saved and sheltered many thousands. In the end many pet owners regretted killing their pets and blamed the government for starting the needless hysteria.
(View from a landing craft disembarking troops on D-Day)
Sixty-four years ago under overcast skies, Allied troops from the United States, Great Britain, France and Canada sat in landing craft awaiting the fateful order to hit the beaches. They were part of the largest amphibious landing ever.
These men were not professional soldiers seeking conquest for conquest’s sake. Rather, they came from all walks of life back in the real world. These ordinary young men I am sure were filled with dread as their landing craft negotiated the deadly gauntlet from the ships to the heavily fortified beaches of “fortress Europe”. On the shore above the beaches German defenders waited to drive them back into the sea.
When the steel doors of the landing craft splashed into the surf, the soldiers slogged towards the shore through a firestorm of machine-gun fire and shelling. Many were killed instantly, others drowned in the water, still others made the beach only to be killed before advancing further. Those that did find cover from the German defenders’ onslaught had no rest, they now had to advance and drive a wedge into the enemy fortifications. It was imperative a beachhead be established, or the war would be prolonged yet again. To end the long war the Allies must push the Germans back. The goal, to land on the beach, stay there, and advance to Berlin. Hitler and his evil Nazis must be defeated at all costs. The world was watching and waiting.
Eleven months after these brave men fought and died on the bloodied beaches of Normandy, Hitler was dead, and the Second World War was over in Europe. D-Day, June 6, 1944 was truly one of the most important turning points of the war.
(American cemetery at Normandy)
Those who fought there, and those who died there, I salute you.