Since we’re on about ships and cats, I finally got my e-mail problems sorted and contacted the HMS Cossack Association. You may remember HMS Cossack from my posts here , here and here as figuring prominently in the story of a cat named Oscar. The Secretary of the association kindly (and promptly) responded to my questions about this.
I had hoped that some of the brave crew of LO3 were still around, but sadly they are all gone (if you know any WWII vets, find out all you can from them- there are so few left), so there are no first-hand witnesses to Cossack’s engagement of the Bismarck or the supposed rescue of Oscar.
In the Secretary’s opinion, however, “the geographic separation between the ships make it virtually impossible that Oscar was picked up from Bismarck” He also stated he had no doubts as to the existence of a ship’s cat named Oscar, “but matelots, like fishermen, are prone to embellish their tales. It is though a good and intriguing story.” I heartily agree with him there.
So there you have it. An unimpeachable source has debunked the tale. I was wrong about the Oscar story; it was nothing but spun yarn after all, though at least he actually was a ship’s cat. It is rather a shame. It was a good story.