Sunday, February 26, 2006

Keeping Pets in the Forces

Photo shows: Queenie and Curly posing on one of 'A' Squadron's Half-Tracks

Understandably, most units managed to keep the odd pet whilst in the line.

In 'A' Squadron, 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, we had Queenie, a nondescript bitch who subsequently produced Curly and once hostilities had finished they both firmly established themselves at our barracks in Opicina.

I would be hard pushed to say who the official owner was, my guess is that it was probably the cook, as it was at the cookhouse that both dogs could usually be found.
Whoever owned them, they were both spoilt rotten and had complete run of the barracks.

It was rare for a serviceman to be allowed to take a pet back to the UK and so inevitably dogs such as Queenie and Curly would eventually have been ‘passed on’ to successive regiments at wherever one was stationed.

One exception to this unwritten rule was when I was finally posted back to England in 1947.

As we arrived at the docks at Dover I noticed that one of our party was wearing his greatcoat most of the time despite the fact that it couldn’t have been too comfortable wearing it on the train and on the ferry.

Another one of the lads, seeing me staring at my unusually clad comrade said ‘Have a look at his right hand’

I looked again, saw nothing and said ‘What am I supposed be looking at?’

He smiled and said ‘He’s bringing his parrot home!’

Sure enough, being held down in his right hand pocket was a full sized parrot that was about to be smuggled into England despite all the laws to the contrary and the strict anti-psittacosis regulations that were then in force.

I would guess that half the ship must have known by then what he was trying to achieve and to everyone’s amusement and relief when we finally cleared customs and boarded our London bound train he brandished his multi-coloured pet in triumph.

Please, dear reader, make my day and post a response that says ‘That was my Dad (or Granddad) who smuggled that parrot home and they are both still around today!

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