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 Simon “Able Seacat”

Simon “Able Seacat”

Death 28 Nov 1949 (aged 1-2)
Burial Ilford, London Borough of Redbridge, Greater London, England
Plot 281
Memorial ID 32650332 · View Source
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Dickin Medal Recipient. Born in Hong Kong, Simon was a small, black and white tomcat, discovered on the docks and taken aboard HMS Amethyst where he served as ship's cat. In April 1949 while serving in China, Amethyst was ordered up the Yangtze River to Nanking to replace the duty ship there. Halfway to the rendezvous, the ship was fired upon by Chinese communist gun batteries, during the so-called Yangtze Incident Simon was injured by a shell blast that holed the vessel, killed 16 crewmen, and the ship's Captain. The cat received facial burns, and at least four shrapnel wounds. The ship ran aground under heavy fire from a PLA battery. It was two days before the vessel was refloated, she had taken over 50 hits. Amethyst remained besieged by the PLA for ten weeks, vital supplies were withheld, and an infestation of vermin invaded the ship and threatened the supply on hand. Simon, despite injuries, continued to catch rats which were eating the crew's rations while the ship was held. His crewmates brevetted him 'Able Seacat' for his efforts. Upon the vessel's final escape after 101 days, Simon's dedication to duty made him a minor celebrity; one crewman had to be detailed to answer the cat's fan mail. Able Seacat Simon was awarded the Amethyst campaign ribbon on August 1, 1949. Upon return to Britain, Simon was subject to a standard six months quarantine. Reporters traveled to the animal center in Surrey where he was billeted during the quarantine period to photograph him. He was slated to receive the Dickin Medal, known as the animal VC, which was to be awarded by London's Lord Mayor on his release. Unfortunately, shortly before the end of his quarantine, Simon contracted a viral infection, a vet was sent for, diagnosing a high temperature and acute enteritis. He was given around the clock care; but by the morning he died. The vet suggested that he might have recovered from the virus had his heart not been weakened by his war wounds. Simon was buried with full naval honors, his custom made coffin draped in a Union Jack. The original wooden marker bore the epitaph: 'In Honored Memory of Simon, D.M.' A recent restoration of the cemetery provided Simon with a new grave stone which reads in part: 'Throughout the Amethyst incident, his behavior was of the highest order.' At the PDSA hospital in Plymouth, another memorial plaque for Simon was unveiled on April 13, 1950. He remains the only cat ever awarded the Dickin Medal. His medal was held on HMS Amethyst until the ship was scrapped almost ten years later, it was then transferred to the Naval Trophy Store on HMS Nelson at Portsmouth. His Dickin Medal was eventually auctioned and was bought by a private collector who kept it until 1993. When it came up for auction again, it was purchased by a film company for over £23,000. Simon was also posthumously awarded the Blue Cross Medal for Bravery.


Im memory of Simon
Served in HMS Amethyst
May 1948 - November 1949
Awarded Dickin Medal August 1949
Died 28th November 1949
Throughout the Yangtze Incident
his behavior was of the highest order

Gravesite Details Thanks to E. Dinger for sponsership
  • Created by: Iola
  • Added: 5 Jan 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 32650332
  • E. Dinger
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Simon “Able Seacat” (1947–28 Nov 1949), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32650332, citing Ilford Animal Cemetery, Ilford, London Borough of Redbridge, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Iola (contributor 46780914) .