Simon was an extraordinary cat. Because he was born a street cat he had to be brave from a very young age. When he was found and taken aboard HMS Amethyst, he robably already had experience of hunting for his food, so it was natural for him to protect the ship’s food stores by hunting the rats that were out to steal them.
What was new to Simon was being loved and being treated like a pet. As he grew to know the crew and trust them, he came to understand when they needed comfort and he was always there for them to offer his own special support.
When Simon arrived in Britain, he received the Dickin Medal for his loyalty and bravery alongside the ship’s crew. The medal was instituted in 1943 in the UK by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals in World War 2.
The bronze medallion says “For Gallantry”, which means bravery. Underneath this are the words “We Also Serve” to recognise the animal’s devotion to duty. The Dickin medal has been awarded to dogs, horses and pigeons, for their acts of courage. To this day Simon is the only cat to receive the medal. You can see a short video about Simon and his medal at this site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq7BMGbThHk
If you would like to read more about the other animals and their fascinating stories, the link below lists all of the recipients of the Dickin medal: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/what-we-do/animal-awards-programme/pdsa-dickin-medal
Simon’s ship, HMS Amethyst, was built in 1942 and was launched the following year. On it’s return to Portsmouth in 1949, the damaged ship was put into storage. However, in 1956, the Amethyst was used to star in “The Yangtze Incident” movie. The ship was finally scrapped in January 1957. You can see many videos about HMS Amethyst on this site: https://www.britishpathe.com/search/query/Amethyst/search-field/record_keywords