Monday, January 24, 2011


Many a strange tale – real or imaginary – emerged from the Second World War. One in particular that has always intrigued me was told by my late close friend, ex-Chief Master Sergeant Lucian I. Thomas DFM. Though Virginia-born, he volunteered to serve as an air-gunner with the Royal Canadian Air Force and then the United States Army Air Force throughout WWII.
He shared with me the saga of why there are now so many tail-less cats to be seen in the Flensburg area on the German-Danish border. Lucien swore he had first-hand factual knowledge that their presence is the aftermath of the crash of a Royal Air Force bomber aircraft in the Second World War.

On the night of October 1, 1942, 27 Halifax bombers of 4 Group RAF attacked the U-Boat base at Flensburg, of which 12 planes were shot down. Kurt Peuschel, then a 14-year-old local boy, and some of his school friends, were allowed by German Luftwaffe guards to inspect one of the crashed bombers, believed to be A/C serial number W7717 of 10 Squadron, RAF.
Guards told them that five of its Canadian crew had been captured uninjured and sent to a POW camp. Before leaving, the prisoners asked their captors to look for the crew's pet tomcat that had escaped from the wrecked bomber and fled into the darkness. The RAF flyers were all very fond of their feline mascot, which they had acquired while training on the Isle of Man.
It was a Manx cat, the unique tail-less breed that would be easily identifiable to searchers. Apparently, Kurt and his young friends were enlisted to help search the area for the tail-less cat, but without result.
Kurt later moved away to live in Switzerland, and visited his homeland many years later. While there, he saw a local TV station report commenting on the large number of cats without tails to be seen in the Flensburg area. The report attributed them to the wartime rumour of an RAF mascot survivor that went missing in action.
Kurt told his wartime story to the TV station, and a search for the survivors of the crew was taken up by the Canadian Embassy in Berne, but without success after such a long time has passed. Still, I like to think it is true that many descendants of a mascot Manx cat who fell from the sky long ago still roam the streets of Flensburg

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