HMS Exeter had a ships mascot, a cat named Scouse.
The ship's cat of this heavy cruiser was Scouse a handsome white with ginger and tabby blotches, reported later to have joined the ship in 1939 as a stowaway in Bermuda. There's a fine painting of Scouse in the National Maritime Museum, but we are unable to reproduce it here owing to copyright difficulties.
Exeter took part in the action that resulted in the scuttling of the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee off South America, in December 1939. Suffering extensive damage and heavy casualties, Exeter was nevertheless able to return to Plymouth for a refit by February 1940, to a rousing welcome led by Winston Churchill, then First Lord of Admiralty. Scouse (one or two references quote his name as 'Pincher') is seen here disembarking on that occasion with Herbert Chalkley, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal following the action, for his efforts in saving human lives — and it was Herbert who had rescued the cat too.
Sadly, Scouse's arrival in Britain did not herald a happy new life. He was stolen at Plymouth shortly after Exeter's homecoming, but was recovered later from a cellar by a crew member searching for him. Then, in company with the ship's canary, he was taken to stay at the London home of artist Mrs G Shaw Baker, who painted the portrait noted previously. The plan was to produce two paintings of the mascots, one for presentation to Exeter and the other to be sold in aid of the fund for dependents of crewmen who had died in the River Plate action.
According to one interview with Mrs Shaw Baker, on arrival at her home Scouse was already showing signs of being unwell, and he continued to deteriorate despite efforts to make him comfortable. A vet was called and treatment given, but he died soon afterwards, in mid-March 1940. A theory put forward was that having come from much warmer climes, he had succumbed to the colder climate of a British winter, having already possibly been weakened by his ordeal when stolen. The painting was nevertheless able to be completed, the artist having done preliminary sketches and taken some photographs. Press reports seen spelled Scouse's name as 'Skeuse'.
Credit of this article is Patrick Roberts, on website: Purr 'n' Fur UK
Thanks to Jim Winchell for originally sending an image of Scouse