There has always been quite a bit of focus on dogs as a popular animal that has aided the military forces. However, very little is devoted to the brave cats who also had their place in military history.
There were many and a few will be highlighted here today and tomorrow to also give them their due!
Able Seacat Simon
Perhaps the most decorated cat in military history, Able Seacat Simon was found on a dock in Hong Kong by a British seaman, who smuggled him aboard the HMS Amethyst. It wasn’t uncommon for ships to have cats aboard, as they were good at killing mice that might eat the food supply, chew through ropes and wood, or spread disease. Simon got straight to work as a mouser, leaving “presents” of dead rats in sailors’ beds. The crew loved the cat for his bonny antics, and he helped boost morale. Simon even made friends with Peggy, the ship’s dog.
After about a year at sea, the ship came under fire near Nanking. In the battle, Simon was wounded by shrapnel and fled somewhere deep into the ship. He was missing for eight days, and the crew feared him dead. But he reappeared, dehydrated, covered in dried blood, and with his whiskers and eyebrows burned off. He was taken to the medic and stitched up, but in his absence, the rats had gone out of control. They infested the food supply and made life miserable for the crew. Even though he was injured, Simon got right to work, killing two rats in his first night back. Over the next few days, he cleared the deck and eventually killed one massive rat that had earned a reputation as being a particular nuisance. That’s when the crew named him “Able Seacat Simon,” the first military title given to a cat. He continued to bring a shell-shocked crew comfort on their voyage. Simon received three awards for his behavior, but tragically passed away due to complications from his injuries. He was buried with the respect of all of Britain with full naval honors.
Pooli is short for Princess Papule, and she was born on the Fourth of July in 1944 in the Navy yard at Pearl Harbor. She was taken aboard the USS Fremont, an attack transport, where she saw plenty of action. Her ship was in battle at the Marianas, the Palau group, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima.
Pooli would head for the mail room and curl up in a mail sack whenever she heard the battle stations ring, and the main danger she faced was when some of the sailors aboard her ship were heading for home. They considered throwing the cat overboard for fear that they would be quarantined in San Francisco because of her. But those who loved the cat wouldn’t have it, and they put a round-the-clock guard on the cat for three days until the ship docked without any problems. Pooli lived a long and happy life after the war and earned three service ribbons and four battle stars.
Mourka lived in the Russian army’s headquarters in Stalingrad in World War II. The German siege of Stalingrad was a long and terrible battle in the city, and it became too deadly for Soviet scouts to run messages from the battlefront to headquarters. The commander, however, had a plan. Since Mourka always ran from the fighting to the kitchen at headquarters, he gave the cat to a gun crew stationed at the front and instructed them to put messages in Mourka’s collar and let him go.
Mourka risked life and limb to run messages from the front, and he was greeted in the kitchen with lots of treats and pets. He did his job for several months before disappearing in action. Though his fate is unknown, he saved human lives with his service and is remembered as a war hero.