Friday, November 7

White Feather Girl Gets A Spanking

War Poster

Here's a tongue in cheek story about white feathers. As regular readers will know I've published a lot of posts on this theme.

"I am intrigued by people's accounts of finding white feathers and their belief that they came from the wings of angels. I had a similar experience more than 70 years ago. It was during World War II in 1943, when I was 16, but people said I looked older, more like in my mid 20s.

I had a pet goldfish called Jonah at the time, who was my best friend.

One day, a bomb landed nearby and Jonah's bowl shattered. I found him hours later, in the morning.

Later when I went to the front door, I found that a white feather had come through the letter box.

When the post arrived there was a letter with no message, just another white feather. And when I walked down to the cinema later in the day, a young lady walked up to me and, without speaking, handed me a white feather. She walked off before I could thank her.

Three white feathers in one day. Had Jonah found another friend, and were they watching out for me?"

~ Brian Reynolds, Kent.

White feather cutting
As you may know, the story above refers to how white feathers were handed to those who some regarded as cowards for not signing up to fight in the two world wars. Mistakes were often made, as can be seen by the newspaper cutting on the right, where a girl got a spanking for her error of judgement.

Why Was A White Feather Given To Cowards?

Here's an answer to that question from the Ottawa Citizen of Feb 10, 1977.

"It's a stigma that comes from cock-fighting. The breeding of a gamecock showed in its plumage. Pure bred birds were strictly red and black, and only pre-bred cocks fought well. Even one white feather in the tail of a fighting cock branded it a cross-bred and, according to the wisdom of the pits, a coward.

Cowards of the human variety, especially those somehow shirking military duty were said to be 'showing the white feather' Though more often in romantic literature than in real life, they were sometimes sent in an unsigned letter containing a white feather to shame them into action - or just to shame them."

The Badge.

Silver War Badge
Going back to the case of the girl who received a spanking for giving out a white feather. This may seem a light hearted cutting but the handing out of white feathers became something of a problem. They were often handed out to men who were far from being cowards. So much so that a badge - the Silver War Badge - was created for men who were officially excused from being in one of the British armed forces. Perhaps they were unfit, had been injured in action or were doing valuable and necessary jobs within civilian life.

So, there we are white feathers with a difference from being found following a loved ones death or even simply falling out of a white bird.

P.S. In Brian Reynolds story above he mentions about white feathers coming 'from the wings of angels'. Personally I have never actually thought this to be the case.

Other Recent Posts:
The Quarter Jack Looking Down From The Tower Of Wimborne Church
The White Dove Was A Messenger From His Deceased Mother
The Mysterious Dogon People And The Knowledge They Learned From The Fish-Like Aliens

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  1. I'd never heard this about white feathers as symbolic of cowardice! If these feathers are coming from angels, then some angel somewhere is probably going bald on the wings!

  2. Balding angels? :D
    It's interesting how human courage was compared to the wrong feather in a cock tail, or should that be - tale?
    Great post!

  3. These stories always amaze and confuse me. :)