9 Lives: The Tale of Unsinkable Sam and 9 Other Cats that Sailed the High Seas

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4. Convoy

Convoy was a ship’s cat serving in HMS Hermione, a light cruiser of the Royal Navy in the early days of the Second World War. Ships of the size and speed of Hermionewere often tasked with the arduous, monotonous, and ultimately dangerous duty of protecting unarmed or lightly armed ships from enemy U-Boats, surface raiders, and air attacks.

Since it made sense to group the unarmed ships together so that fewer escorts could protect them all, convoys were formed to cruise routinely between ports. Convoy was named by his crewmates as a way of expressing what their life at sea had become. Convoy made many repeated iterations of his namesake in Hermione.

Convoy was such an integral part of the crew that he was entered into the ship’s books, registered as Ship’s Cat. Sailors of the British Navy were issued a “kit” which included items such as shipboard clothing, foul weather gear, hammocks, and so forth. Convoy had his own “kit” which included his own hammock, which he slept in quite comfortably. Convoy’s duties were not too onerous, limited to leisurely mousing and entertaining fellow crewmembers.

Hermione was lost at sea in a U-Boat attack on June 16, 1942, while on convoy duty in the Mediterranean. Most of the ship’s crew were rescued, but 87 crewmembers perished in the attack or from exposure, with Convoy among them.

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