The story of a heroic cat who served with the Royal Navy has been told in a new book.
Writer Steve Hulmes, from Hyde, assisted author Jacky Donovan with her book Simon Ships Out, based on the life of a cat who lived on board HMS Amethyst in 1949.
Simon the cat posthumously received a People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals Dickin Medal – the animal answer to the Victoria Cross – for saving lives while on the ship.
Steve, a former pupil at Longdendale High School and Hyde Sixth Form, said: “It was a really interesting story to research and it is told from the perspective of Simon the cat.
“For the book I researched cat behaviour and I was inspired by my neighbour’s cat.
The book tells how Simon was smuggled on board HMS Amethyst after being found wandering the dockyards of Hong Kong, Under heavy fire during the Chinese Civil War, the ship was stranded for 101 days and Simon kept up morale among the crew and protected food stores from an infestation of rats, despite suffering severe shrapnel wounds.
Following the ship’s escape he was credited with saving the lives of the crew and became an instant celebrity.
As well as the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ Dickin Medal, Simon was awarded the Amethyst’s Blue Cross medal and given the rank of ‘able seacat’. He received a hero’s welcome when the ship returned to Plymouth on November 1, 1949, but he died in quarantine three weeks later and was buried with full military honours at the PDSA Animal Cemetery in Ilford, Essex
The release of Simon Ships Out coincides with the 65th anniversary of the cat's death and is available on Amazon.