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Twitter Thread: The Incredible Story Of Simon, The HMS Amethyst Ship Cat

When we think about history and war, rarely do we think about the animals. Deservedly, we talk about the soldiers and the fallen, the events that occurred, but sometimes, the animals have stories of their own. Simon, the HMS Amethyst ship cat, has lived one of the most amazing cat lives and has one of the most incredible stories. Thank you to @garius for putting this story together and sharing it with the world. We hope many more people read it and learn about Simon.

Simon is not the only ship cat out there either, there apparently have been many ship cats adorably sleeping in tiny hammocks throughout history. And other cats throughout history have been captured destroying all of our things. And though, no, none of their stories are quite as amazing as Simon's, we love them all. 

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    Cat - John Bull ... @garius Sod it. Have a Friday history thread. Let's talk about Simon. Ship's cat for HMS Amethyst. Survivor of the 1949 Yangtse Incident and the only cat ever to be awarded the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 - Twitter Web App
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    We find it funny that the tweet starts with 'sod it', as if you were considering making this list thread for a while and finally decided to do it. It should have been obvious that cat lovers on twitter would jump on the opportunity to read this absolutely amazing cat's story. Again, thank you for putting it together!


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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Simon was born on the streets of Hong Kong, most likely sometime in 1947. His early life was spent scavenging for food in the dockyards. This was how he met 17 year old Ordinary Seaman George Hickinbottom of HMS Amethyst, when the ship stopped there to resupply in early 1948. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Anywhere and at all times throughout history, cats have somehow managed to get humans to fawn over them and take care of them. We are not surprised at this point, honestly. Cats have indeed been the ones to domesticate themselves. Thank goodness this kind person picked up this cat. Without them, this entire story wouldn't have happened. 


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    Font - John Bull ... @garius Replying to @garius Hickinbottom was rather taken with the young malnourished tuxedo kitty, and decided that Amethyst's lack of a ship's cat needed addressing. To avoid the possibility of disagreement with this plan, Simon was smuggled aboard under his tunic, past the watch. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Unfortunately for George, he was quartered close to the Captain's cabin. Which Simon very quickly realised was better kitted out for long snoozes. Indeed Simon discovered that upturned captains' hats were particular comfy. To the surprise of Lt Cdr Griffiths, the ship's captain. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius The secret out, Griffiths (who was luckily a cat lover) agreed that Simon could take up post as Ordinary Seacat, with one caveat: To quote George: "He warned me that if he saw any muck on board, he'd have me up on a charge" 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull ... @garius Replying to @garius Simon quickly became a respected member of the crew. He was a keen rat hunter and a regular in the mess area where his party trick was plucking ice cubes out of people's drinks with a claw. In late 1948 Lt Cdr Skinner assumed command. Luckily he was a cat lover too. Simon stayed 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull ... @garius Replying to @garius Simon's rat hunting became a particularly huge benefit for a ship that was constantly plagued by them due to its station. Skinner and Simon also formed a close bond. With Captain's cabin (and hat) privileges soon reconfirmed. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 - Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull ... @garius Replying to @garius In 1949 HMS Amethyst was ordered to steam up the Yangtze and relieve HMS Consort, which was standing as a guard ship for the British Embassy at Nanjing during the Chinese Civil War. Mistaking her passage for an American naval intervention, Amethyst was heavily shelled by the PLA 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Salvos ripped through the bridge and elsewhere, killing Captain Skinner and the whole bridge crew. Amethyst slewed and grounded. The wounded radioman managed one message: "Under heavy fire. Am aground in approx. position 31.10' North 119.20' East. Large number of casualties" 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius With about 50 men dead and wounded on Amethyst, the shelling stopped. Any attempt to refloat or move, however, provoked more shelling and sniper fire. A stalemate now ensued, as the British rushed ships to assist and negotiations with the Communists began. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 - Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull ... @garius Replying to @garius Ordinary Seacat Simon had been in the Captain's cabin when a shell hit it, sending shrapnel flying. Badly wounded in back and legs, his whiskers singed off, he dragged himself to safety in a gangway to wait out the shelling and seems to have lost consciousness. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Negotiations dragged on. Amethyst was stranded. The most seriously wounded were evacuated to the far bank, and Lt Cmdr Kerans, the Naval Attache from Nanjing arrived to take command. After a few days, Simon was finally found after he dragged himself onto deck, wounded and weak. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Simon was rushed to the temporary sickbay where the relief medical officer worked hard to remove the shrapnel and patch him up. The operation was successful, but weak and with his heart failing, Simon was not expected to survive the night. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 - Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Somehow Simon survived. The remaining crew took turns nursing him, as much in hope as expectation. A few days later Simon was left alone briefly as the crew gathered to commit their lost colleagues to the water. When they turned, they found Simon had joined them at the funeral. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius As the stalemate dragged on into weeks, Simon became a vital part of the crew once again. Stranded with few supplies, rats became an increasing problem for the ship. Despite the crew's efforts to stop him, Simon resumed hunting them in spite of his obvious pain. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius When not hunting rats, Simon would spend most of his time in sickbay, where he would purr, knead and head- boop wounded and sick sailors, before curling up next to them and snoozing. For a young, scared crew he became more than a ship's cat. He was a talisman. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Lt Cmdr Kerans was NOT a cat man. On arrival, he ordered that if they made it out, Simon should be put ashore. In June, Keran himself fell seriously ill and was confined to sickbay with a high fever. He awoke to find Simon purring alongside him. The ashore order was revoked. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull ... @garius Replying to @garius With the situation becoming desperate, morale worsened as the Amethyst prepped for a desperate dash to the sea. It was now that Simon finally managed to catch the largest rat on the ship, which had plagued the crew for months, lifting everyone Kerans promoted him to Able Seacat 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius On the night of 30th July 1949, Amethyst successfully made a break for the sea. In the aftermath, the crew insisted Simon deserved an Amethyst Campaign medal as much as the crew. Keran agreed. One was unofficially issued to Able Seacat Simon. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Repairing in Hong Kong, the ship received a message from the Armed Forces Mascot Club suggesting Simon qualified for the Dickin Medal. This is the highest award for gallantry or devotion that can be granted to animals serving with the British Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius The award was confirmed on 1Oth August 1949, when Able Seacat Simon of HMS Amethyst became the 54th (and only feline) recipient of the Dickin medal. A collar in the medal's ribbon colours was sent to Hong Kong and issued to Simon as an honour guard was stood. The citation read: Able Seaman Simon, for distinguished and meritorious service on HMS Amethyst, you are hereby awarded the Distinguished Amethyst Campaign Ribbon. Be it known that on April 26, 1
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius The plan was to issue the Seacat with his full medal on the ship's return to the UK, in December 1949. But Simon's health was still poor. During quarantine on arrival in the UK, Simon developed acute enteritis. Vets fought to save him. Crew members took turns to stand watch. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Simon quietly passed away in his sleep on 28 November 1949, as a member of Amethyst's crew stood watch over him. Just as he had stood watch over them. Devastated, but proud of their colleague, the crew organised a full burial with honours. 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius Simon was placed gently in a specially made casket, draped in a Union Jack, and buried with full naval honours in the Pet Cemetery in lford, attended by the crew he loved and who loved him back. You can visit him there today. 2:47 PM · Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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    Font - John Bull @garius Replying to @garius This thread is in memory of Simon. 1947 - 1949. His memorial stone reads: IN MEMORY OF "SIMON" SERVED IN H.M.S. AMETHYST MAY 1948 – SEPTEMBER 1949 - AWARDED DICKIN MEDAL AUGUST 1949 DIED 28TH NOVEMBER 1949. THROUGHOUT THE YANGTZE INCIDENT HIS BEHAVIOUR WAS OF THE HIGHEST ORDER
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    Plant - MDORY OF SIMON SERVED IN HHS AMETHYST MAY 54- NOVEMBER 49 AWARDED CICKIN MEDAL AUDUST 194 DED R NOVEMEER 1943 THROOGHOUT THE YANCTSE WCIDENT EAVOR WAS OF THE HIOREST ORD 2:47 PM Jul 16, 2021 · Twitter Web App
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