Welcome to today's guest blogger Jacky Donovan. Her last blog about Simon the ship's cat was so popular we asked for more!
Good morning Jacky and thanks for taking part in our blog again.
Don't forget to comment, share, tweet and download your FREE copy of this amazing book.
Hello Sarah Jane and thanks for inviting me.
The memoir Simon Ships Out: How one brave, stray cat became a worldwide hero, quirkily narrated by the cat himself (but typed up by author Jacky Donovan and published by Ant Press!) brings to life his incredible role in a war-time story and can be downloaded FREE from Amazon / ibooks / Barnes & Noble / Kobo until midnight 14th August 2015.
On 10th August 1949 it was confirmed that Able Seacat Simon was to be awarded the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. He is still, 66 years later, the only cat ever to receive this medal out of a total of 66 award winners!
A special collar in the colours of the medal ribbon was sent for Simon to wear, and he was due to be presented with the actual medal upon his return to the UK from the Yangtze River. There were plans to present him with a temporary, home-made medal while in Hong Kong — he didn't think much of that idea and bolted! But both Simon and ship's dog Peggy were awarded HMS Amethyst campaign ribbons at a presentation held at Hong Kong's China Fleet Club.
When news of the award reached the media, Simon became a celebrity, as well as a hero. There were photocalls aboard, newsreel film of him, and his pictures went around the world. Letters, poems, gifts of food, and cat toys arrived by every post; a special 'cat officer' had to be appointed for a while and dealt with nearly 200 items that arrived daily. One day, maybe tired of all the fuss, Simon walked down the gangplank and went ashore in Hong Kong, something he had never before done since joining the ship. The captain, who by now had become a firm fan, was alarmed and sent the crew to search for him They failed to find him, but three hours later he strolled nonchalantly back on board.
When Amethyst finally sailed for England, there was more publicity at every port of call: Singapore, Penang, Colombo, Aden, the Suez canal, Malta, and Gibraltar, before arriving back in Plymouth, England to a tumultuous welcome in November 1949.
Here is a video clip of Simon with a member of the crew which was shown on the news at the time:
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Simon Ships Out:
How one brave, stray cat became a worldwide hero
now while it is
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