H.M.S. Hood Crew Information
H.M.S. Hood's Mascots
Updated 08-Jun-2015

This article concerns the "other" members of Hood's crew, the animals. Information and photos for this article were derived from the H.M.S. Hood Association archives. We also cross referenced the information with the excellent book "Flagship Hood" by Alan Coles and Ted Briggs. Special thanks to Janice Brady for a number of these photos, and to Randy Merz and Gary Woodward for providing us with some excellent information on some of the other animals. If you have additional information or photos, please contact our staff.

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Throughout history, crews of many naval ships not only included humans, but animals as well. H.M.S. Hood was no exception. In fact, at times during her 21 year career, she was a veritable floating zoo! Her menagerie of known mascots/pets included a goat, an opossum, a squirrel, a wallaby, beavers, a variety of birds, as well as dogs and cats.

Unfortunately, beyond a handful of old photos and a few surviving contemporary accounts, very little detailed information exists on most of these animals. Indeed, it is impossible to determine the exact numbers, types and even names of most of these special crew members. Of the known animals, there are four in particular, which are either well documented, or otherwise stand-out from the rest– "Joey" the wallaby, "Bill" the dog, plus "Ginger" and "Fishcakes" the cats.

Joey the wallaby, 1924

Joey
Joey, the most famous (or infamous) of Hood's mascots, joined the crew in March/April 1924. He was presented to Hood by the people of Australia during the famous Empire Cruise. By all accounts, he was quite a character: he was well known for boxing (sometimes injuring) crew members and performing tricks. He also had a goat-like propensity for eating odd items such as cigarette butts and pouch tobacco!

Naturally, he became quite popular with the crew and guests. He eventually became well-trained by his handler, the ship's butcher. Nevertheless, he did have a "wild streak" which frequently got him into trouble: excessive wandering, falling/jumping overboard and leaving the ship (in port) to explore and wreak havoc ashore being a few of his more notable "adventures." Eventually, he became too much to handle and was given to an unspecified English zoo in either 1925 or 1926.

He was supposedly replaced by a bulldog pup donated by Lady Hood. Although we have no specifics, its quite possible that this was the dog "Angus" who was known to have been aboard ship in the 1920s.


Scarlet O'Hara
Randy Merz of Canada has told us of another Hood mascot, a macaw/parrot. In 1924, Hood visited western Victoria, British Columbia, Canada during the Empire Cruise. Supposedly, among the menagerie of animals onboard at this time was a scarlet macaw. We'll let Randy take it from here: "Hood brought an interesting 'stowaway' along with her to Victoria. During her run through the tropics, her officers picked up a scarlet macaw. It apparently got on the wrong side of the captain, and was ordered off the ship in Victoria (much to the regret of the officers). Scarlet was given to the lady who boarded a few of the officers during the stay.

Her owner, Mrs. Eels, always pointed out to me that she was named after the character in the book, 'Gone with the Wind' because when she got her, the movie hadn't come out yet [Note from Editor- Evidently, the bird was renamed, as the book was published in 1936]. The McCaw and her owner lived next to me as a young boy in the early 1960s. Scarlett was in her 30s-40s then, and she would come over and visit us - trying to make a nest out of my brothers baseball glove.Mrs. Eels was the "housekeeper" for Victoria's retired Fire Chief, Mr.Carter. Scarlett lived most of the time, in a vacant lot that Mrs Eels and Mr Carter used for a garden plot. She talked to passers by and chased cats well into the 1970s then after Mrs. Eels died,she was sent up to the Yukon--the city of Whitehorse I believe, where she took the place of 'Yukon Polly' who had died."

Pat Banks of Yukon has added: "In 1972 Scarlet went to live with Dorothy Hopcott and Don McLellan at the Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon. She replaced Polly who had been a well known celebrity for many years. In approximately 1990 Dorothy & Don retired from the hotel business and moved to Whitehorse; Scarlet relocated with them and remained in their home as their beloved pet until her death some time in 1990s."

If anyone has additional information or photos of Scarlet, please contact us.


Angus
Angus was a bull dog that served aboard Hood in the mid-late 1920s. Photos show him onboard as late as 1928 or 1929. Little is known about him at this point. Its not 100% clear if he may or may not be the same as the bulldog "Argus" known to have served on the ship in the 1930s.


Judy circa 1934

Judy
Judy was the pet dog of Commander Rory O'Conor and was frequently aboard the ship when in home waters during the mid 1930s.

 

 

 


Ginger & Fishcakes, 1935
To see more photos of the
cats, click on the photo.

Ginger & Fishcakes
Not much is known about these fine felines, but fortunately, several photos of them still exist. Ginger, a large, mostly ginger and white coloured male tabby cat, and Fishcakes, a smaller "tuxedo" cat, were known to have been aboard Hood during the mid-late 1930s. The exact dates of their time aboard, their places of origin and even their ages are not known with any certainty, but photos indicate that they were definitely aboard during Hood's involvement in the Spanish Civil War (during her 1936-1939 service with the Mediterranean Fleet). They were aboard at the same time as bulldog "Argus" (or possibly "Angus").

We do not know their fate(s). While it is possible that one or both were lost in the sinking of the ship, there is no definitive proof. Indeed, circumstantial evidence seems to suggest otherwise: the latest known photo of either of the cats, was of Fishcakes aboard the ship in late 1939 or early 1940. There are no other photos of either cat aboard after that time period. This, combined with the fact that surviving crew of that time period recalled no cats, seemst to suggest that they had been put ashore sometime after the start of the war.

Note- There are more photos of Ginger at the bottom of this page. Both cats are also featured at the "Purr-n-Fur" website. Click here to visit this great site.


Cracker Joy & Bluebird

Cracker Joy & Bluebird
Very little is known about these two tiny dogs. They were featured on a very popular Christmas card sold aboard the ship in the wartime years. The card referred to them as "honourary mascots". It is unknown if they had any true connection to or physical presence aboard the ship.

With this in mind, very little is known about them. We include them here simply because this was a very popular card amongst Hood's ratings.


Bill
Bill, a white Bull Terrier, was among Hood's last known mascots. As with his feline counterparts, Ginger and Fishcakes, not a great deal is known about Bill. Fortunately, a number of photographs of this handsome fellow still exist. We do at least know that he left Hood in early 1941...so he was not lost in the sinking of the ship.

Bill the Dog, Circa 1940
Bill, circa 1941

Bill is known to have been aboard from the late 1930s until early 1941. Of course, his exact dates of service in Hood are not known. It must be assumed that his dates were the same as his master's, Reverend Beardmore. According to Mr Gary Woodward: "My Grandfather, Robert `Ben' Woodward served as a Royal Marine on H.M.S. Hood between 1939 and 1941. He was transferred to HMS Nelson in 1941 at Rosyth along with Reverend Harold Beardmore, the ships Padre, and his dog Bill. Apparently Reverend Beardmore's wife used to breed bull terriers and Bill had been chosen some years before to go to sea with the Padre.

Occasionally, when the Padre was unable to, my Grandfather used to bring Bill home with him on shore leave. My Father as a small boy can vividly remember taking (or rather being taken by) Bill for a walk in a park in Coventry, to where he had been evacuated from Deal. Bill went for a woman's Pekinese, grabbed it in his mouth and only let go when a passing refugee Czech soldier pricked him with his cap pin! Bill was eventually demobilised and lived out the rest of his days with the Reverend."

Bill is also mentioned, albeit in less than flattering terms, in actor Jon Pertwee's excellent book "Moon Boots and Dinner Suits".


Other "Mascots"
Although not technically mascots and certainly not welcomed guests, Hood did play host to other animals- most notably rats and cockroaches! This is not to say that Hood was a totally filthy ship. She simply suffered from the same scourge that still affects ships to this very day - in a large ship filled with many men and a featuring a plethora of crawling spaces (Hood had @700 different compartments), it is all too easy for vermin problems to arise. Hood was especially hard hit in the mid to late 1930s.

Steps were taken to eradicate the pests, but the exact degree of success is not known. Perhaps this is the real reason for having TWO ships cats during this period? If so, one thing is for sure- Ginger and Fishcakes certainly had their work cut out for them. Of course, judging by Ginger's "immense" girth, he must have done a pretty good job!

Assorted Pet & Mascot Photos
Click on any of the photos (except the last one) to enlarge:

Ginger on shore leave
Ginger relaxing circa 1935. Photo courtesy of Janice Brady.

Ginger clowns it up
Ginger 'clowning it up'. Photo courtesy of Janice Brady.

Ginger and a puppy aboard Hood
Ginger & a puppy on the base of a pom pom gun mount, 1935. Photo courtesy of Janice Brady.

Ginger and a puppy on a pom pom
Ginger & the same puppy on the forward port pom pom gun mount. Photo courtesy of Janice Brady.