At the height of First World War trench warfare paranoia, British intelligence officers believed that two cats and a dog were being used by the Germans to spy on Blighty's forces.
Revealed as part of documents published by the National Archives this week, the report was originally filed as part of an intelligence briefing in July 1915. It seemed the officers suspected the animals may have been secretly running messages across enemy lines. It read:
Two (2) cats and a dog are under suspicion, as they have been in the habit of crossing our trenches at night; steps are being taken to trap them if possible.
The same report recounted how British forces erected a board mocking their German enemy, with the news of the surrender of German South West Africa written across it. The German soldiers promptly tried to shoot this down. The Board of Shame itself was apparently in response to a German prank which saw its soldiers fly kites across British lines with put downs like "Englishmen, how badly you shoot!" and "You Englishmen – we have wine, sausage, and meat – your Englishmen are hungry and thirsty!" written on them. It'd all sound rather quaint were it not set against the backdrop of one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. [Independent]