The PDSA Dickin Medal is an award given to the bravest animals who served during wartime. Since its inception it's been given to dozens of pigeons, dogs and horses, but only ever to one cat.
This is Simon and in his 2 years alive he touched the lives of hundreds of people, especially those aboard the HMS Amethyst in 1949.
While docked in Hong Kong a 17-year-old seaman named George Hickinbottom found a stray kitten wandering around the docks. The cat was underfed and malnourished and would surely have died. Perhaps feeling lonely Hickinbottom broke protocol and smuggled the cat aboard.
It couldn't have been easy to keep a secret on-board a ship, especially not a living, breathing one and the cat was quickly discovered. Instead of causing trouble though the cat, named Simon, began to earn a reputation as a fearsome mouse-hunter and cuddly companion.
Don't let the image of the tough sailor fool you, Simon won over everyone on board, and it was said could frequently be found sleeping in the captain's hat.
In 1949 the Amethyst was involved on what would later be called the Yangtze incident. The ship, sailing up the river Yangtze in China was attacked. Chinese Communist guns opened fire and one shell tore into the captain's cabin killing Lieutenant Commander Skinner and seriously injuring Simon.
Simon crawled above deck and was rushed to the medical bay, but he wasn't expect to last the night. Doctors removed 4 pieces of shrapnel and cleaned his burns, against all odds Simon survived.
After the incident Simon became a household name. He was featured in magazines, newspapers and awarded several medals. They even bestowed upon him an honorary military rank: Able Seacat.
After he recovered Simon returned to work. Mousing, napping and raising morale. Sadly he succumbed to a viral infection later that year.
After over 50 years Simon is still the only cat to be awarded such honors, and deserves his place in history.