Venus the bulldog, mascot of the destroyer HMS Vansittart.
Image: Imperial War Museums
From the squad of apes Churchill deployed to Gibraltar based on a superstition, to the Nazi plot to kill British command with exploding chocolate bars, to the POWs who built a glider to escape prison, the book catalogues the bizarre, baffling, and ingenious ways that people dealt with an unprecedented global conflict.
Salvo the “Paradog” completing a parachute jump during training. Dogs accompanied D-Day troops dropped behind enemy lines, sniffing out mines, traps, and troops. They were given two months’ intensive training, including how to angle themselves in the air —”forepaws up and rear legs down.” On the day of the drop some dogs had to be encouraged out of the plane with the aid of a two-pound chunk of meat. Read more…