Yay! Friday at last! I thought we could end the week with a real “ghost” story and I hope you enjoy this one as much as I have.
One “person” who should be haunting Simon’s Town, but who by all accounts aren’t, is Able Seaman Just Nuisance, R.N. This is a great story I stumbled across while looking for Simon’s Town’s resident ghosts. I wouldn’t mind bumping into this fellow on a dark and stormy night!
Born on April’s Fool Day 1937 in Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa, this Great Dane pup was sold to Benjamin Chaney, who moved to Simon’s Town to run the United Services Institute. It was here where this large dog became a legend.
It was a dog’s life – the sailors on the base at Simon’s Town fed him all sorts: beer, pies, etc., and took him for walks. He was a friendly dog and was loved by everyone. He started to follow the sailors around the base and the docks and eventually onto the ships themselves – HMS Neptune was to become his favourite vessel. Only thing was, he chose his spot to lie down at the top of the gangplank, making boarding the vessel difficult, eliciting “You’re just a nuisance!” from the sailors.
He regularly followed the off-duty seamen on their jaunts to Cape Town, 22miles and 27 stations north of Simon’s Town. But he knew exactly where he was going. The conductor was not sympathetic and put the dog off at the next station. Undeterred, the dog would just board the next train. Sometimes people even offered to pay his fare, but a stream of complaints was sent to Mr Chaney, demanding that he controlled his dog’s movements. It was only when the railway threatened to have the dog put down that, due to the massive outcry from the sailors and other people who have come to know Just Nuisance, that the Commander-in-Chief decided to enlist him into the Royal Navy, making him one of the world’s most famous dogs.
He was enlisted on August 25th, 1939, his first name became “Just”, his trade “Bone Crusher” and his religion “Scrounger” later upgraded to Canine Divinity League – Anti-Vivisection, for the rations. His duties seemed to have been self-imposed. He didn’t like his friends to squabble and he made sure they got home to barracks after a night in the pub.
Just Nuisance was more than just a dog. He did much for the morale of the sailors in the Second World War, but he was no angel. His rap sheet was long and distinguished, including offenses like going AWOL, traveling on the trains without his free pass, sleeping in the petty officer’s bed and refusing to leave a pub at closing time.
|RIP Just Nuisance|
Nuisance was involved in a traffic accident on January 1, 1944 which left him with thrombosis which slowly paralyzed him and on April 1, 1944, 7 years after he was born, he was put to sleep at the Simon’s Town Naval Hospital. The next day he was buried with full military honors that included a gun salute and a lone bugle’s rendition of The Last Post, on top of Red Hill.
He is not forgotten, though. His legend lives on at the Simon’s Town Museum, where his official papers, his collar and many photos of him are on display. They even run a look-alike competition yearly, ensuring that the legend of Able Seaman Just Nuisance R.N. continue for a few years to come.
Isn’t that a nice story to end the week with?