Stories and Traveltips

ID #5231

Just Nuisance, Simonstown, Western Cape, South Africa.

Just Nuisance was a Great Dane who served at HMS Afrikander, a shore establishment in Simon's Town from 1939-44. He was the only dog ever enlisted in the Royal Navy. He died in 1944 and was buried with full military honours.

Although his birthdate is unknown, it was assumed that he was born on 1 April 1937 in Rondebosch. He was sold to Benjamin Chaney who later moved to Simon's Town to run the United Services Institute (USI). He soon became popular with patrons, mostly ratings who would feed him snacks and take him for walks. He followed them back to the naval base where he would lie on the ship’s deck, normally at the top of the gangplank. Since he was a large dog -- he was almost 2-m (6.6 ft) tall when standing on his hind legs -- he presented an obstacle for those trying to board or disembark and he became affectionately known as Nuisance.

Nuisance was allowed to roam freely and, following the sailors, he began to take train trips as far as Cape Town. Despite attempts to conceal him, conductors would put him off as soon as he was discovered. This did not cause any difficulty as he would board the next train that came along. Amused travellers would occasionally offer to pay his fare but the railways warned Chaney that Nuisance would have to be put down unless he was kept under control.

The news that Nuisance might be put down spurred many sailors and locals to write to the Navy pleading for something to be done. Although someone offered to buy him a season ticket, the Navy instead decided to enlist him because, as a member of the armed forces, he would receive free rail passes. When was enlisted on 25 August 1939, his surname was entered as "Nuisance" and, rather than leaving his first name blank, he was christened "Just". His trade was noted as "Bonecrusher" and his religious affiliation as "Scrounger", although it was later altered to "Canine Divinity League (Anti-Vivisection)". Because of his longstanding service (and to allow him to receive rations), he was later promoted from Ordinary to Able Seaman.

He never went to sea, but fulfilled a number of roles ashore. He continued to accompany sailors on train journeys, escorting them back to base when the pubs closed. While many functions were of his own choosing, he also appeared at promotional events, including his own "wedding" to another Great Dane, Adinda. Adinda produced five pups, two of which were auctioned off to raise funds for the war effort. For the next years he was a morale booster for Allied troops. His service record was far from exemplary -- i.e. travelling on trains without a free pass, being absent without leave, losing his collar and refusing to leave pubs at closing time and so on. He was sentenced to have all bones removed for seven days for sleeping in an improper place -- a Petty Officer's bed. In addition he fought with mascots of ships that put in at Simon's Town, killing at least two of them.

Nuisance was injured in a car accident which caused thrombosis which gradually paralyzed him, so on January 1 1944, he was discharged from the Navy. His condition continued to deteriorate and on April 1 1944 he was taken to Simon's Town Naval Hospital where, on the advice of the naval veterinary surgeon, he was put to sleep. The next day he was taken to Klaver Camp, where his body was draped in a Royal Naval White Ensign and buried with full naval honours, including a gun salute and playing of the Last Post. A simple granite headstone marks his grave on top of the hill at the signals centre. A statue was erected in Jubilee Square in Simon's Town to commemorate his life. Simon's Town Museum has a room dedicated to his story, and since 2000 there has been an annual parade of Great Danes from which a look-alike is selected.

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Last update: 2014-02-28 22:40
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.4

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