Famous Friday: Unsinkable Sam

by Paws on Your Heart on June 28, 2013

Unsinkable Sam sounds like the name of an incredibly sturdy ship… but it’s actually the nickname of a black and white feline (also known as Oskar) who survived the sinking of a total of three ships during World War II – Bismarck, HMS Cossack, and HMS Ark Royal. Surviving that many shipwrecks sounds like an impossible feat, even for humans, yet the cat known as Unsinkable Sam shows that with determination and endurance, anything is possible. So how did he do it?

The first shipwreck that Oskar faced was on the German ship Bismarck on May 27, 1941. The ship was destroyed during it’s first outing during a battle with enemy forces, and only 118 out of 2,200 crew members survived. So how did Oskar make it out? He held on for his dear life on a piece of driftwood, and luckily he was found shortly after the battle.

Oskar was picked up by British forces who were returning home on their ship the HMS Cossack. His name wasn’t actually Oskar until he arrived on this ship – the crew named him Oskar and made him the mascot of their ship. He had a happy, water free life for several months on the Cossack, but disaster was on the horizon…

On October 24, 1941, the HMS Cossack was struck by a German torpedo. The ship was is rough shape, but it didn’t sink immediately. The ship’s crew attempted to bring the Cossack to the Gibraltar for repairs, but bad weather made this impossible and the ship sank. But that wasn’t the end for this cat. Oskar was brought to the shore of Gibraltar with the surviving crew members. This was the day that he was given the nickname Unsinkable Sam.

Oskar was soon transferred to a new ship, the HMS Ark Royal. Unfortunately, on November 14, 1941, less than a month after the sinking of the HMS Cossack, the HMS Ark Royal also met it’s fate, as it too was the target of a German U-boat attack. Luckily, this ship sank much slower than the other two ships, which meant that everyone on board, except for one crew member, were saved. Yes, Oskar was saved too. 

That was the last ship that Oskar ever set foot on. He was sent to a more permanent home in Belfast in the United Kingdom to live in one of the seaman’s homes. He lived here until his death in 1955.

Unsinkable Sam is still remembered by those who knew him and those who have heard of his amazing tale. His portrait is even hanging in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, United Kingdom. See it HERE.

You can also see some pictures of Unsinkable Sam and the famous ships that he sailed with HERE.

The story of Unsinkable Sam is incredible. It shows that determination (and maybe even a little luck) will allow you to accomplish even the most impossible seeming task.

Is there a famous feline you’d like to see featured in one of our Famous Friday posts?
Let us know in the comments section below.



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