Royal Navy Pays Tribute to Ship Cat

Simon the cat is remembered in a ceremony marking the anniversary of the safe return of the HMS Amethyst.

Posted: November 2 2007 2 a.m. EDT

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A ceremony held on Nov. 1 to commemorate the HMS Amethyst’s safe return from China during the “Yangtze Incident” of 1949 also paid tribute to Simon, the Amethyst’s official rat-catcher and ship cat. Retired Comdr. Stewart Hett of the Amethyst placed a wreath on Simon’s grave at the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals Animal Cemetery (PDSA) in Ilford, Essex, England, The Telegraph reports.

Simon is the only cat to receive the PDSA Dickin medal, the highest British military honor an animal can receive. Simon earned the honor through his behavior on the Amethyst when it was attacked on the Yangtze River in China in 1949. Though the black-and-white cat had been hit by shrapnel during shelling raids, he continued his duties as rat-catcher, protecting food stores while the ship was under siege for 101 days.

The ship’s crew credited Simon with keeping up morale until the ship escaped from the Yangtze in July 1949. News of the cat’s behavior on the ship spread quickly, and Simon received hundreds of letters from fans. Hett was appointed “cat officer” to deal with the fan mail.

Simon died in quarantine several weeks after the Amethyst returned to England. He was buried with full military honors at the PDSA Animal Cemetery, and received the Dickin award posthumously.

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Reader Comments

Samantha    Mission, BC

10/16/2011 11:55:43 PM

Wow.

Verne    Media, PA

11/3/2007 10:51:34 PM

Simon must've been quite a character.Too bad he had to pass away in quarantine;bet he could've been saved with today's more advanced vet care.
Here's a link to where I first discovered his story.
LINK

Sheryl    Casa Grande, AZ

11/2/2007 8:36:30 PM

It was wonderful that he was honored, but I wish that he had been in the arms of someone who loved him when he died rather than alone in quarantine.

Angela    Hamburg, NY

11/2/2007 6:23:20 PM

It is good to hear that a cat has been honor in this way.

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