Monday, December 24, 2012

Whose Statue is in the Centre of Simon's Town? – by Gary

Captain Cook’s?  Nuh!

Guess whose statue is proudly displayed in Simon’s Town’s central town square? The town has played host to many a famous person throughout its history including Captain Cook, Captain Bligh, Admiral Nelson (even though he was a mere midshipman at the time) Rudyard Kipling, Robert Scott, Earnest Shackleton and Nelson Mandela to name just a few.  Could be any of them huh? But no, none of them; ... the answer is a dog, a great dane by the name of Just Nuisance.

Just Nuisance’s Statue, Jubilee Square, Simon’s Town

Simon’s Town is a navy town, has been since 1814, and the Royal Navy likes its mascots – they’re good for morale.  Just Nuisance is easily the base’s most celebrated mascot, rising to prominence during WWII because of the shared affection between him and many of the base’s sailors.  There are many stories about him and, like many a good old yarn, disentangling legend and fact can be difficult.  The story of Just Nuisance’s naming is one such.  I’ll tell you my preferred version.

Simon’s Town is a navy town, most of what you see below Emily, Zeke and
Nina is the sprawling base

Just Nuisance was apparently a most intelligent and free spirited dog.  He hung around the ships a lot and, being big, tended to get in people’s way. Unsurprisingly he developed the moniker ‘Nuisance’.  He also developed a taste for independent travel, riding the railway running between Cape Town and Simon’s Town, and had many friends along the way.  But when it came to affection the railway authority distinctly lacked any reciprocity – it seems Nuisance was rarely prepared to pay his fare.  They threatened to have the free-loader ‘put down’.  Navy brass got together and came up with the solution – draft him in to His Majesties Navy.  You see navy ‘ratings’ got to ride the railway free!

But like all great plans it was not without hurdles - a dog had never been enlisted before.  A letter was duly sent to the British Parliament requesting their approval. Unbelievably, it was granted.  So on the big day he turned up at the enlistment office led by an able seaman.
         “Name?” barked the enlistment officer
         “Nuisance sir”  the able seaman smartly returned
         “First name?” roared the enlistment officer
         “Er, er ... just... Nuisance sir”

And, so the story goes, Ordinary Seaman Just Nuisance became the first dog enlisted into the Royal Navy.

Just Nuisance,   above left: having a beer with friends         above right:  on shore leave in the train

Just Nuisance’s grave, high up on the mountain above Simon’s Town – note the fresh flowers.

postcript:  A frankly much less interesting account of his naming can be found here

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