Celebrating V-E Day - Animals and Pets in World War II

Operation Dynamo, code named the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’ was the evacuation of more than 300,000 allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in France during World War II in 1940.

During this time lots of pets were adopted by the British troops and also made the evacuation journey too. On the expedition during May 1940, many soldiers found dogs running about, lost and in search of their owners. They were hungry, upset and even aggressive. Some of the soldiers felt sorry for these terrified animals and many dogs followed the retreating British troops and during the retreat made it to the beach where the Royal Navy came to rescue soldiers.

According to an article in the Telegraph, the animals were amazingly scrambling into the sea and onto the rescuing ships – the RSPCA's post war history stated: “knowing with the sureness of canine instinct that the men who had so far befriended them in their appalling need would not desert them at the last”. The RSPCA also recorded: “All along the Thames Estuary and the south and south-east coast where the little ships of all kinds landed wearied men, equally wearied and homeless dogs were also brought ashore. 'Our Dumb Friends’ League' (the animal welfare charity, founded in 1897) in a 1940 report said: “What was to happen to these dogs? The answer was destruction or outside help. When asked by the Ministry of Agriculture for help, the League came back at once. We will take them! Send them to us at once! So the League has or had 107 dogs in quarantine.” As a nation Britain is well known for loving animals so this story, albeit not well known, is not that surprising.

As our love for animals continues we remember 75 years on, all of those who served and fought for our country.

While our celebrations will be a little different than some may have planned due to the current coronavirus pandemic, there are still ways to celebrate Victory in Europe Day, known as VE Day - a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945. There will be:

  • At 11am, a national two-minute silence will be held to reflect on the sacrifice of those who fought in the war.

  • At 3pm, Britons are being invited to take to their doorsteps to raise a glass, cheer and clap during The Nation's Toast to the Heroes of World War Two. There will be a chant of the phrase: "To those who gave so much, we thank you."

  • A pre-recorded speech by the Queen will be broadcast at 9pm, the very moment her father, King George VI, addressed the people over radio on May 8 1945.

Whether you are celebrating with a picnic in your garden following social distancing guidelines or something else be sure to stay safe and give your four legged friends an extra special thought

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