Real Ones and Dummies

Second World War illustration (copyright ‘We’ll Eat Again’, Imperial War Museum)

One co-incidence that we happened upon during our initial research were recipes for 'mock' animals in recipes from the Second World War. Due to the shortage of meat during rationing, various other foodstuffs were substituted. For example, the recipe for 'Mock Goose' (described below) contained only vegetables!

Recipe for Mock Goose
1 & a half lb potatoes
2 large cooking apples
4 oz cheese
Half teaspoon dried sage
Salt & pepper
Three quarters pint of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon flour

Method:Scrub and slice potatoes thinly, slice apples, grate cheese. Grease a fireproof dish, place a layer of potatoes in it, cover with apple and a little sage, season lightly and sprinkle with cheese, repeat layers leaving potatoes and cheese to cover. Pour in half pint of the stock, cook in a moderate oven for three-quarters of an hour. Blend flour with remainder of stock, pour into dish and cook for another quarter of an hour. Serve as a main dish with a green vegetable.

(Recipe from The Victory Cookbook, Marguerite Patten, Octopus 2002)

Elizabeth Masterton, maquette for 'Solomon J Solomon', felt horse approx 300cm x 200cm

The appearance of mock animals in recipes brought to mind the use of dummy animals in the theatre of war. Solomon J Solomon, one of the forefathers of camouflage describes the ingeniuous use of wooden cavalry:

"On the road in front of these houses the dummy horseman is seen. His horse is lighted by the sun and casts its shadow on the ground, as all solid objects in sunlight must; but in front of him (and this is how we know he is a dummy) there is a big hole intended to represent three horses, for three black equine heads and necks project from the hole, which is said to be their bodies. There is no light in this mass of shadow, cut in a canopy higher than the rest of the road."
(from 'Strategic Camouflage' 1925)

Mock animals were also used by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in WW2 in the form of exploding rats. Dead rat skins were cured and filled with high explosive. Rat bombs were said to have been responsible for a number of successful attacks on German supply lines.

Mock animals have also found their way into our home life in the form of the formation of three flying ducks which once adorned the walls of many households. We are currently trying to research the origin of this peculiar decoration, so please contact us if you are a flying duck expert!

Lizzie Ridout, maquette for wooden flying ducks, plywood