Sunday, 28 November 2010

Able Seacat Simon, D.M., R.N. (1947-1949)



A little while ago I wrote a posting in memory of Able Seacat Simon of HMS Amethyst, the cat who was born on Stonecutters Island Hong Kong and was adopted by the crew of HMS Amethyst. He was a wonderful support to the crew when HMS Amethyst became involved in the Yangtse Incident and eventually was awarded the Dickin Medal, the animal award for gallantry, often referred to as the "Animals' Victoria Cross". I won’t repeat the information here but if you want to read the heart warming story of Simon take a look here. As I reported Simon was buried in Plot 281 of the PDSA's (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) animal cemetery at Ilford, east of London.


Recently I had a lovely email from Bob William Green who had seen the posting and was contacting me to thank me for keeping Simon’s memory alive through the posting. Bob reminded me that today, 28th November 2010, is the 61st anniversary of Simon’s passing so I thought it was timely to update the information.


Bob told me that Lt Commander Stewart Hett was
"Number One" Officer on HMS Amethyst and present on the bridge during the entire escape down the Yangtse.
"Had he not have taken the picture of Simon's Grave in November 2007 at the rededication of the Cemetery, also published on the Maritime Quest website, I would have never come out of the shadows to tell my story. It serves to reinforce the value of companionship of an animal in a family."
Bob also told me that it’s believed that he is the only surviving civilian who met Simon in 1949; he was eight years old at the time. 


You can see some lovely photographs of Simon, the crew of the ship and Lt Commander Stewart Hett at Simon's grave on the Maritime Quest website. There's also a very moving tribute from Bob. 


Bob’s granddad who was in the Royal Navy during the First World War was instrumental in bringing about Bob’s contact with Simon, he was also responsible for the ships' mascots during his own time in the service. His cat "Ordinary Seacat Togo" is also recorded on this site.

The Maritime Quest website Bob told me about is an interesting one, recording a photographic history of the world’s great ships. I’ve had a look and it’s a site I’ll be coming back to. My Dad was in the Royal Navy during World War 2 so I’d like to see if there are any of the ships he sailed on.  

I'm very grateful to Bob for getting in touch, it was very kind of him to give me some more information about this wonderful little cat and the people who loved him. As he said:
"So many of stories from the past disappear with the passage of time, I believe it is up to us, those who remember or had contact with these things, to try to perpetuate them for the enrichment of the future generations. Such stories will never be told again."
Post 170

What's a Gansey?

                                                Photograph courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums It's a seaman's kni...