Simon S Cat
Simon was found wandering the dockyards of Hong Kong in March 1948 by 17-year-old Ordinary Seaman George Hickinbottom, a member of the crew of the British frigate HMS Amethyst stationed in the city in the late 1940s. At this stage, it is thought Simon was approximately a year old, and was very undernourished and unwell. Hickinbottom smuggled the cat aboard ship, and Simon soon ingratiated himself with the crew and officers, particularly because he was adept at catching and killing rats on the lower decks. Simon rapidly gained a reputation for cheekiness, leaving presents of dead rats in sailors' beds, and sleeping in the captain's cap. The crew viewed Simon as a lucky mascot, and when the ship's commander changed later in 1948, the outgoing Ian Griffiths left the cat for his successor Lieutenant Commander Bernard Skinner, who took an immediate liking to the friendly animal. However, Skinner's first mission in command of the Amethyst was to travel up the Yangtze River to Nanking to replace the duty ship there, HMS Consort. Halfway up the river the ship became embroiled in the "Yangtze incident", when Chinese communist gun batteries opened fire on the frigate. One of the first rounds tore through the captain's cabin, seriously wounding Simon. Lt Cdr Skinner died of his wounds soon after the attack.