Aboard a British Royal Navy ship sailing down China's Yangtze River, Simon the Cat a long-time favorite of the sailors on the H.M.S. Amethyst (seen above) was hit by shrapnel as a result of an attack by Chinese Communist forces. Simon was injured in the leg and back, and his whiskers were singed off. Some of the sailors didn't think he'd make it through the night. But eventually, Simon recuperated enough to wipe out a massive rodent infestation on board the ship, eventually taking down an enormous rat the sailors named Mao Tse Tung. Later, his exploits became known around the world; he even managed to garner a TIME obit. In August 1949, Simon was awarded the Dickin Medal, which honors animals in wartime.
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