In March 1948, George Hickinbottom, a junior sailor from the British patrol ship Amethyst, picked up a one-year-old cat from the shipyards in Hong Kong. George could not then imagine that this hungry skinny cat would bypass him in military rank and be famous throughout England.
The sailor secretly carried Simon, as the kitten was later named, on board the ship and began to treat and feed him. Soon, Simon ate on the naval grubs and began to exterminate the rats that were found in a huge number on the ship. Moreover, the cat reported on its achievements: he brought the killed rats to the door of the captain's cabin.
Soon Simon became everyone's favorite on the Amethyst and even had the honor of sleeping in a captain's cap, he did a very important job - rats destroyed food and spread typhus and tuberculosis.
At the end of 1948, the Amethyst was tasked to climb up the Yangtze River to the port of Nanjing, where he was to change the patrol ship Consort. Chinese gunners opened fire on the Amethyst. One of the shells hit the captain's cabin, where Simon slept as usual. The ship's captain was killed, and the cat was wounded by a canister charge.
The badly wounded cat was able to crawl onto the deck, where it was picked up by the ship's doctors. Few believed that Simon would be able to survive, four shards were taken out of him. But after a few days, the cat began its duties - the destruction of rats on the ship.
After returning to England, the crew members were presented for awards. The ship's cat Simon was also on the list of awardees. He received the Maria Deakin Medal, the highest military award for animals. The medal was established in 1943 by the founder of a charity organization for helping animals and was awarded to "smaller brothers" who distinguished themselves in military service or in civilian rescue services.
Simon was awarded a medal with the wording: “You, in spite of the wounds, did your duty. Your bravery and selfless service to the Queen deserves all praise. " In addition, the cat was awarded the title of senior sailor.
By law, all animals imported into the UK were to be quarantined. For Simon, no exception was made, and for some time he was placed in an animal shelter in Surrey. Here the hero cat caught some kind of infection and became seriously ill. His wounds also affected his health. Despite the efforts of the veterinarians, Simon died on November 28, 1949.
The cat was buried at Ilford in east London. Hundreds of people came to honor Simon's memory, including comrades in arms - the entire Amethyst team.