World War II


Boredom as a feature of military life can yield interesting outcomes. For a B-17 crew of the U.S. Eighth Air Force waylaid in North Africa in 1943, the quest for distraction led to the acquisition of World War II’s quirkiest mascot: Lady Moe, the cigarette-eating donkey.

From dogs and cats to more unconventional creatures like monkeys and parrots, animal mascots have long been part and parcel of military life. Few, though, can claim an origin story quite like Lady Moe’s, whose odyssey from North Africa to the United Kingdom began as high strategy. In August 1943, the U.S. Army Air Forces planned to send the Eighth Air Force’s heavy bombers to two targets in southern Germany, an undertaking known as the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission—the first major U.S. deep penetration strategic bombing raid.

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