Guest Post By Cat Scout Felix

 

Hi, Cat Scout Felix here 000_0003to share with you the story of a famous post-World War II mascot in the British Navy. I am particularly fond of this fellow, because like me, he was a tuxedo!!

ABLE SEAMAN SIMON

Simon was born in Hong Kong in 1946. He hung around the supply store where ships picked up their provisions, and was discovered there by commander of the British Royal Navy frigate HMS Amethyst. Captain Griffiths loved cats, and took an immediate liking to Simon. Rats were a huge problem on Amethyst and every ship. They raided food storage areas and also carried viruses which could be passed on to crew members. Captain Griffiths took Simon aboard to become the ship’s mascot and ratter.

Simon made himself at home in the Captain’s quarters, and he shared meals with the crew. He became an avid hunter, and caught rats in every part of the ship. Rather than eat his prey, however, he laid the dead rats at the Captain’s feet.

In 1949, under her new commander, Captain Skinner, Amethyst because involved unwittingly in the Chinese war, which changed the crews’ lives forever.

The ship was scheduled to sail up the Yangtze River toward Nanking, where the Communists and Nationalists had lined up on separate sides of the river. A temporary truce was in effect, and Amethyst was to be on stand-by to evacuate the British from the area if needed.

On her way up the river, Amethyst was bombarded twice, and she went ground before reaching Nanking. The Captain and several crew members were killed, and Simon was wounded with shrapnel and burns. He was looked after by the ship’s medical officer,but his heart had become weak and his wounds took a long time to heal.

Simon+being+held (1)Simon1

Simon’s wounded shipmates enjoyed his company in the sick bay, but he soon resumed his ratting duties, splitting his time between that chore and keeping the men company. The ship’s Petty Officer John Webb was very fond of Simon, and made sure he always had a comfortable bunk and food to eat.

Amethyst was stuck in the Yangtze River for two hot months, while a diplomatic and military standoff was in effect. She soon faced a typhoon while at anchor, and Simon wisely stayed below decks. During the long ordeal, Amethyst’s supplies, fuel and food had become badly depleted. Finally her new commander, Captain Kerans, received orders to turn the ship around and return down the river to join the rest of the British fleet. Amethyst was bombarded several times on this voyage, but she finally reached safety more than three months after embarking on the original mission.

Captain Kerans lifted Simon above his head to signal their triumph to the crew. Soon thereafter, Simon was awarded an Amethyst Campaign Ribbon for his services ( see picture). He was also awarded the prestigious Dickin Medal by The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which honored animals exhibiting great courage during times of war.

Simon+w+his+ribbon

This was the first time the Dickin had been awarded to a cat or to a Royal Navy animal. A ribbon was sent for Simon to wear, and there were photos, gifts and fan mail before Amethyst set sail for England. His formal medal presentation was scheduled for December 11, 1949.

Amethyst finally arrived in England after getting necessary repairs, but Simon had to be quarantined for six months. Although he received many visits from well-wishers and his shipmates ( including Captain Griffiths and Kerans), Simon succumbed to his weak heart less than a month later, and he did not live to enjoy his own medal presentation ceremony.

Simon’s passing caused a sensation, and letters and flowers arrived by the truckload to his last resting place at the quarantine station in Hackbridge. Time Magazine even ran Simon’s obituary.

The Dickin Medal presentation ceremony was held posthumously, and Simon’s award was received onΒ his behalf by his last commanding officer, Captain Kerans. The medal stayed on Amethyst until she was decommissioned, and then it moved to various locations. It is now owned by The Eaton Film Company in London.

simon_grave_1” Throughout the Yangtze incident his behavior was of the highest order.” Inscription on Simon’s grave stone. He is buried at the PDSA animal cemetery at Ilford, England.

Thank you Felix , for an excellent post. And the winner of the book,Β Eight Hundred Grapes,is Tux ( Β http://tuxthedappergent.com/ )Β . Congratulations! And be sure to enter our Easter and Passover giveaway everyone.014

51 thoughts on “Guest Post By Cat Scout Felix

  1. We had not heard the story of Simon before. Thank you cat Scout Felix for telling us. It would be a good story to share at Scouts. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  2. Mom had heard of Simon but you told us much more. Thanks Cat Scout Felix! Hope all is well with you all here at 15! Would love to join in your latest giveaway!
    Luvs
    Marty and the Gang

    • You are entered into the giveaway, you can enter again tomorrow too . πŸ™‚ Felix did a great job telling us about Simon.

    • I had not heard it either, there are so many ship cats. Felix and Maggie will tell us about a different one every other week.

  3. Sammy P,
    Thank you for letting Cat Scout Felix share the wonderful story about Simon. So interesting to find out about cats who made history. I agree with the other kitties that Felix should tell these interesting stories around the campfire.
    C S Charles

  4. conga ratz two tux on winnin de book & thanx felix for sharin thiz storee !! πŸ™‚ simon wuz one total lee awesum dood !! best fishes two everee one in de easturr contest N heerz two a midshipman fish & marlin kinda week oh end β™₯β™₯β™₯

  5. Simon is testimony as to how much an cat can raise morale in difficult situations not to mention keep that vermin population down! Great story and thank you for sharing it πŸ™‚

    the critters in the cottage xo

  6. What a terrific story and one worthy of a major motion picture, we think. Then again, we think everyone should have their own major motion picture. But wow! Simon tops them all! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Mee-you Scout Felix what a cool an sorta sad storey about Simon thee Sailin Kat….hee deeserved that award fur sure!!! Iss sad hee did not get to see it…..
    Fankss fur sharin Simon’ss storey with us…
    *Hi-5’ss* Siddhartha Henry an LadyMum

    • Felix the cat wrote it for his journalism badge. I will check to see if ti was word for word, I agree that is important. Thank you for pointing it out.

    • Simon’s story is very well known, documented and available from multiple web sources, as well as in at least one book and a magazine article. Felix and Maggie are writers in their own right, and their human mom is the founder of the Museum of Maritime Pets. She kindly lent Felix some of the info and visuals you saw here. It is taken from an on-going exhibit, “All Paws on Deck.”

      As a trained historian with multiple degrees, Felix’s mom is well aware of attribution and citations in writing books and articles. This is a blog for fun, education and celebration of felines! Thanks for YOUR interest!

  8. My mum had told me the story of Simon. He was a very brave and loyal cat, and it was a great honour for him to receive the Dicken medal.
    For some reason your recent posts haven’t been arriving in my reader. The last notification was Sammy Sparrow. I checked and you are still listed in my subscription list. I don’t know what Feedly is playing at and hope it is just a temporary blip. I just wanted to let you know why we haven’t visited for the past week. I will subscribe to be notified by email until it sorts itself out.

  9. Mom and I so enjoyed this story Felix. Mom has teary eyes and her nose is running. Talk about getting involved quickly! Thanks for the story and you are a great story teller my friend.

    (((Shoko)))

  10. Wow Felix, so sowry weez be late, but dat wuz such a pawsum and inspiwin’ stowry. Concats to da winner and to Felix fur gettin’ hims Journalism badge.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  11. I recently published Able Seacat Simon’s story, narrated by him! It’s available on Amazon / ibooks / Barnes & Noble nook / Kobo etc and has over 250 terrific reviews.
    It’s called “Simon Ships Out: How one brave, stray cat became a worldwide hero”.

    A children’s version will be out soon, entitled “Seacat Simon: The little cat who became a big hero”.

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