Friday, January 13, 2012

CATNIPPED! The True Tale of Thomas Whiskers, USN

The following is actual correspondence between the skippers of the hospital ship USS Solace and the destroyer USS Bell in 1919/1920 regarding the disappearance of a valued ship mascot named "Thomas Whiskers."

13 December 1919

From: Commanding Officer, USS Solace
To: Commanding Officer, USS Bell
Subject: Ship’s Cat

Several members of the crew of this ship have informed me the commanding officer that the mascot of the Solace, Thomas Whiskers, has been kidnapped or catnipped [sic] by certain members of your crew and is being impounded on board your ship. This mascot is a large, black Tom and when last seen was in dress uniform consisting of a leather collar with brass tag marked USS Solace.

If this cat is on board your ship, please inform me and I will send a member of the crew for it.



January 1920

From: Commanding Officer, USS Bell
To: Commanding Officer, USS Solace
Subject: Your letter of Dec. 13, 1919

You ship’s cat “Whiskers” is being returned under guard, but an explanation of his presence aboard the ship is no doubt due you.

Prior to our departure from alongside the Solace, the cat in question developed a warm regard for the USS Bell, consequently spending much of his time aboard. On the morning we shifted berth his presence aboard was unknown to us. Later in the day after your ship had sailed, he was found to have taken possession of an unoccupied stateroom. The master-at-arms immediately made him prisoner on the ground that he was a stowaway and incarcerated him in the paint locker. This will account for the fact that he is no longer the black cat you describe, but battleship gray.

We advise against the removal of this collar since its low visibility aids the performance of his duties.

In regard to the dress uniform worn by the prisoner—in his attempts to remove the paint he pulled off the collar and lost it. This ship feels under no obligation in regard to the latter. In adding one ten cent collar to its stores it lost $2 worth of paint.


*Originally published in The Grog Ration, March-April 2008

No comments:

Post a Comment