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  • Luftwaffe Kills Two Rabbits, Perhaps December 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

     

    Little Miss B in seventh heaven last night and this morning as the family has been gifted a small black rabbit. This black rabbit is not destined to have the happiest of lives as LMB insists on watching Disney cartoons with it. Beachcombing, in any case, fell asleep with rabbits and woke up thinking of them, but could only come up with one really good rabbit story from history – readers are welcome to contribute others: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    The story he refers to are, of course, the famous two rabbits killed on Shetlands November 13, 1939, the first British Luftwaffe casualties of the Second World War. The first human casualty would have to wait till April 1940, though there after they would come with depressing frequency till by the end of hostilities 60,000 plus had been killed by bombs, crashing planes, rockets and strafing machine gun fire.

    Anyway, back to the rabbits. A Heinkle bomber had gone in to hit some flying boats near Sullom Voe. The bomber missed but left one impressive looking bomb crater and in this bomb crater the locals found two rabbits. (See the photograph above).

    Uncharitable souls have suggested that these rabbits were planted to underline the moronic incompetence of the Luftwaffe. If so it was a good public relations trick and the rabbits do look suspiciously well preserved, particularly if they were, as the photographs suggest, pulled out of the crater itself.

    Of course, the Luftwaffe would answer any charges of incompetence through all too competent action (upon action) in the months ahead.

    At this point the rabbit casualties meshed with a song that had been first aired in public in mid October of 1939: Run Rabbit, Run  Rabbit Run, Run. Well worth listening to in the original. Its lyrics, indeed, became the unofficial anthem of Britain in the phoney war: bonhomie and absurdly misplaced self-confidence.

    Run rabbit –  run rabbit –  Run! Run! Run!
    Run rabbit –  run rabbit –  Run! Run! Run!
    So run rabbit – run rabbit –  Run! Run! Run!

    Run rabbit –  run rabbit –  Run! Run! Run!
    Don’t give the farmer his fun! Fun! Fun!
    He’ll get by without his rabbit pie
    So run rabbit –  run rabbit – Run! Run! Run!

    Take this short description of the life of an evacuee: After our meal, we go to listen to the news from London. I’m allowed to listen to children’s hour, and shortly after that, I’m put to bed. There are plays, music recitals, and comedy shows. There’s Tommy Handley in the ITMA show with all the funny catch phrases. There’s Mona Lott, the cleaning lady, ‘Can I do you now sir? and ‘It’s bein’ so cheerful that keeps me goin’. Colonel Chinstrap – ‘I don’t mind if I do.’… Some popular songs are played many times in one day. The popular wartime song [Run Rabbit Run] is always on the wireless. It’s inspired by the fact that in the period of the so-called phoney war, the only casualty caused by Hitler’s bombs is a rabbit. Of course, it isn’t long before the wits substitute the name Adolf for rabbit and it isn’t long before Charlie introduces me to the art a rabbit shooting.

    Interestingly there is a bit of cobblers attached to this story. Some claim that the song came about because Hitler said that he would eat rabbit pie when he successfully invaded Britain! This seems a rather unlikely comment for AH to make, not least because he was (largely) vegetarian and also because the phrase, unless there is a German idiom hiding behind it, means nothing. Hitler was not, in any case, particularly interested in an invasion of Britain at this time, that did not slip into his shopping list till the collapse in the west in spring 1940. This interpretation presumably came from the lyrics of the song itself that make the farmer, rather than Hitler, into the rabbit.

    Don’t give the farmer his fun! Fun! Fun!

    He’ll get by without his rabbit pie

    So run rabbit –  run rabbit – Run! Run! Run!

    ***

    11 Dec 2011: Tim from Detritus of Empire sends in ‘Lyrics from the seminal stoner album “Dark Side of the Moon”,  by Pink Floyd Breathe (Waters, Gilmour, Wright) 2:44  Breathe, breathe in the air./ Don’t be afraid to care./ Leave but don’t leave me. / Look around and choose your own ground. / Long you live and high you fly/ And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry / And all you touch and all you see / Is all your life will ever be. / Run, rabbit run. / Dig that hole, forget the sun, / And when at last the work is done / Don’t sit down it’s time to dig another one. / For long you live and high you fly / But only if you ride the tide / And balanced on the biggest wave / You race towards an early grave.’ Run rabbit run onwards is from the original song. Thanks Tim!

    12 Dec 2011: Mike G writes in to point out that this was Shetland not Orkney (Beachcombing brain made a silly mistake here). According to local lore one rabbit not two were killed: Beachcombing seems to remember a photograph of two rabbits but contemporary reports refer to one? Then what about this link: it seems that the rabbits were dropped over Germany by a RAF bomber addressed to Goering! Then Marvin writes in about the Jimmy Carter killer rabbit incident. Thanks Marvin and Mike!