A new film is in the cinemas which aims to shed light on a little known chapter of Britain's military history. Entitled "War Hamster", it tells the story of a young man called Albert Furbottom who takes his pet hamster with him to fight in the First World War.
Albert is only aged 15 at the outbreak of the war, but after seeing all his elder brothers sign up, he follows them to the recruitment office and lies about his age. He secretly takes his pet hamster Hammy with him, cunningly concealed in his anus.
In the trenches of the Somme, Hammy is a great success. He is an expert tunneller and able to chew through barbed wire. In one scene, he rescues a wounded soldier trapped in no man's land by dragging him 100 yards with his teeth.
Later, Hammy finds himself on the wrong side of the front line, and he is captured by German soldiers. The cruel Bosch force him to breed with a large Prussian gerbil called Hilda. After a daring escape, and after devouring all of Hilda's litter, he finds his way back to no man's land. There he becomes trapped in barbed wire, where due to fatigue he is unable to free himself. Soon a British and a German soldier both find him struggling.
Both soldiers help Hammy to escape the barbed wire, whereupon the wily German suggests tossing a coin to see who will keep the hamster. At this point, the British soldier says, "Think again, Fritz!" and shoots the vile Hun dead.
Hammy eventually finds his way back to Blighty after being incapacitated with trench foot. He is given the Victoria Cross and knighted by King George. Tragically, the clumsy king accidentally disembowels him with the sword during the knighting ceremony, and Hammy dies soon afterwards. He is given a state funeral.
It may seem like exaggerated nonsense, but in truth, over 100,000 hamsters served in the British army in the First World War. They even had their own regiment, the King's First Royal Armoured Hamsters. It is likely that the outcome of the war would have been very different without the brave fighting hamsters of the British Army.
Now sadly, they are mostly forgotten. Their only memorial is a 50 foot high marble statue of Hammy which sits in Dorking town square. On the base are engraved the names of all the brave hamsters who gave their lives during the Great War.
We shall never forget them.