When it comes to animals in the military they fall into two different categories. They either exist as mascots and morale boosters or they are truly there to be part of the team and work hard. These military animals from around the world served their country well and continue to be recognized and remembered today.
Simon the Cat
In March of 1948 a small black and white cat was wandering the dockyards of Hong Kong when he was found by George Hickinbottom. Hickinbottom saw the starving cat and decided to smuggle him aboard his ship the HMS Amethyst. The crew fell in love with the cat who won over everyone, even the commander with his ability to clear the ship of rats. Though Simon would often leave the dead rats in sailors’ bunks as a present.
Simon stayed on the boat even as the commanders changed and Lieutenant Commander Bernard Skinner took over. The HMS Amethyst was given the mission of replacing the HMS Consort which was stationed at Nanjiang. To do this the HMS Amethyst had to travel up the Yangtze River where it ended up trapped by Chinese Communist gun batteries. Simon was badly wounded in the first attack and his commander killed. Simon was rushed to the medical bay where the team did everything they could to save the beloved cat.
As Simon recovered the trapped ship was overrun with rats who were getting into the ship’s supplies. When Simon was able he took over his old job and not only cleared the rats but boosted the morale of the trapped crew. The ship remained trapped for months and upon its escape, Simon’s story turned him into a national celebrity. Thousands of letters were sent to the cat and at every port the cat visited from then on, he was showered with gifts and honors. Upon his arrival in the U.K. he was placed into quarantine where he developed a virus caused by a complication from his wounds. Despite the efforts of the medical staff he died on November 28th 1949.
The hero cat was given a full funeral with hundreds in attendance. He was buried in the PDSA Llford Animal Cemetery with the title of Able Seacat.