This silk postcard embroidered in France during the first World War features various symbols that traditionally bring good fortune. The holly, mistletoe, shamrock and the horseshoe all flank the central figure, the black cat, who sits proudly on the shield bearing the Union Jack, adorned in matching ribbons. To many men and women who served in the military their little ebony-coated regimental mascots were very lucky indeed. To celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day here’s a lucky thirteen black cats who served in the war alongside their humans.

 Tiddles of the HMS Victorious

Ship's Cat Tiddles on board the HMS Victorious, July 1942

Tiddles was the ship’s cat on a number of Royal Navy aircraft carriers, born aboard HMS Argus, and later joining HMS Victorious. Here Tiddles is on board the HMS Victorious (July 1942) at his favourite station on the capstan, where he liked to attend to the serious business of playing with the bell-rope.

Cats of the U.S.S. Nahant

U.S.S. Nahant, the ship's mascots

Sailors playing with the tiny mascots of the U.S.S. Nahant in 1898.

Peebles of the HMS Western Isles


Peebles was the ship’s cat aboard HMS Western Isles. Peebles liked to shake the hands of strangers when they entered the wardroom.

Cats of the HMS Vindictive

Mascots of the Vindictive in 1918

The matching mascots of the HMS Vindictive in 1918.

Percy the Tank Cat

This is Lt Harry Drader and his cat Percy who fought with crew D20 in the tank named Daphne. Both Harry and Percy survived the war. Watch them prepare for The Battle of The Ancre below. (Picture: Imperial War Museum)

Cats of the HMAS Melbourne

AB Raymond Stewart Haig on board HMAS Melbourne with two of the ship's cats.

AB Raymond Stewart Haig on board HMAS Melbourne with two of the ship’s cats, with the senior black cat looking rather serious and dignified. (Picture: Australian War Memorial)

Blackie of HMS Prince of Wales


Blackie was the HMS Prince of Wales‘s ship’s cat. Here is Winston Churchill greeting Blackie after the successful signing of the Atlantic Charter. Blackie, whose ship had secretly carried Churchill across the Atlantic, was renamed Churchill in honour of the success of the visit.

Side-Boy of the HMS Neptune

Side-Boy was the HMS Neptune's ship's cat, and also featured on the 'lucky black cat' postcards.

Handsome Side-Boy was the HMS Neptune‘s ship’s cat, and also featured on the ‘lucky black cat’ postcards that were so popular.

Side-Boy poses in his hammock.

Side-Boy poses for a postcard photo in his hammock

Miss Vixen of the USS Vixen

Miss Vixen was mascot aboard the gunboat USS Vixen

Miss Vixen gets the chair all to herself aboard the gunboat USS Vixen (Picture: Library of Congress).

Meanwhile on the HMAS Sydney…

Able Seaman J. T. Walker with his pup "Shrapnel" and Able Seaman Gamble with his cat "Salvo". (Australian War Memorial)

Able Seaman J. T. Walker with his puppy Shrapnel and Able Seaman Gamble with his cat Salvo, who is giving the tiny canine a good glower. (Picture: Australian War Memorial)

Yardbird of the Black Cat Squadron


The original Black Cat Squadron VP-12 Squadron’s commanding officer Commander Clarence Orville Taff, proudly showing off the adorable Yardbird.

Make love not war on the HMS Barham

Make love not war. An adorable cat and dog duo aboard the battleship HMS Barham

A charming cat and dog duo aboard the battleship HMS Barham. (Picture: Imperial War Museum)


6 Responses

  1. Underdogge

    I had a black cat called Blackie (not very original I know) though he had a little white on his neck. He’s gone to the great cattery in the sky long since. He kept the mice at bay though. Unfortunately I had an infestation of mice earlier this year though they’ve gone now – the cat I have now was very laid back “Oh look mouse – yeah” – or the equivalent of that in feline.

    • Olga Hughes

      That sounds like Sir Julian the ginger cat from Redwall who refused to eat mice (although he claimed to be a vegetarian)

  2. Wild Endeavour

    An ancient tradition … another very famous black & white cat was Captain Matthew Flinders’ “Trim”, a crew favourite on HMS Investigator who circumnavigated Australia, amongst other world travels, fell overboard and rescued several times. There is a small book published in Australia called “Trim”, which is Flinders’ tribute to his pet, penned while imprisoned on Mauritius for supposed spying (Napoleon & all that). It is a delightful piece of writing and shows that early 19th C. naval life had its share of fun … Trim was a mate of the crew, playing with them, dining at the Captain’s table and stealing the officers’ meat from their forks! Recommended reading for naval cat lovers.

    • Olga Hughes

      I rather think Trim deserves a whole article to himself, as do many of these marvellous cats 🙂


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