Friends Beside You

I loved this Facebook posting below and at the same time was staggered to read that around half a million brave little cats served as mascots, giving comfort to the troops on the Western Front during the Great War. Maybe it’s not so surprising, that Gigi, my little Bengal cat pal ‘found’ me and as soon as he felt trust and confidence showered me with love and affection every single day. Through long lockdown days alone and all. I have felt humbled by that and the connection we have, truly soul to soul. A relationship that has a ‘knowing’ quality to it.

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It brought to mind the unlikely relationship with a roaming cat that my father struck up in his latter working years at the local Home Brewery. Never really much of a pet-owning family were we but I recall walking into the brewery later one evening to take his forgotten packed sandwiches to him which would sustain him during his nightshift. Walking into the toasty warm, winter boiler house which was his workplace, I saw him sat with his own cat pal who had crept in and found his favourite resting place between those big biceps of my dad – ones that softly cradled him like a baby. A touching tenderness that was a somewhat rarely observed outwardly in John. They became firm and faithful friends for many a year.

Unusually, the actual owner of the brewery would often wander down to the boiler house in the early hours and keep John and his little friend company over hot tea and toast and good craic. A tender and warm scene, one replete with friendship and kindredness.

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Image: Imperial War Museums. Image file number IWM Q 8463.

Peter Barnes 22nd July on Facebook – Posted this before but liked it so much I am posting it again.An endearing photograph of a Lewis gunner of the 6th Battalion, the York and Lancaster Regiment with the Regiment’s cat mascot, in a trench near Cambrin, 6th of February, 1918.Interestingly, there were around 500,000 cats who served as mascots on the Western Front in WW1. Soldiers would share their rations with the cats.As well as being a comfort for soldiers in a very horrible and dangerous environment, the cats helped keep the rat population down in the trenches.

Lest We Forget.’

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