Let me introduce you to a fondly-remembered and dedicated member of the Royal Navy, Able Seaman Just Nuisance.
Yes, I know, he’s a dog. In fact he’s the only dog to have served in the Royal Navy, and the second most famous dog in South Africa after Jock of the Bushveldt.
This famous Great Dane was born on 1st April 1937 in Rondebosch, a suburb of Cape Town. His owner soon moved to Simonstown to work at the United Services Institute (US). Here, the huge puppy was befriended by the visiting sailors. In fact, they clearly spoiled him rotten and he became devoted to all sailors. I don’t know if it was the treats and walks that won him over, or if he just liked uniforms!
He was often seen doggedly following sailors around town, or lying on the decks of ships or at the top of a gangplank or in a narrow corridor, often getting in the way. That is how he got the name Nuisance.
This lovable canine also lived up to his name on South Africa’s trains. He regularly travelled uninvited, and without a ticket, with his sailor friends. When discovered he was dropped off at a station, but Clever and Determined could also have been his name, for he just waited and got on the the next train to come along.
The rail authorities eventually threatened to have him put down. Fortunately, his sailor friends rallied around to support him, and he was enlisted into the Royal Navy on 25 August 1939. He was registered with the Christian name of Just, a trade of Bone Crusher and a Religious Denomination of Scrounger, later changed to Canine Divinity League. Thus he became Just Nuisance. As an official member of the Navy, he received all the usual benefits including a sailor’s bed, a seaman’s hat and, of course, a free train pass.
He did work for his living too, apparently, he stopped fights between men and assisted drunken sailors back to base. He even received a promotion from “Ordinary Seaman” to “Able Seaman”.
Sadly, Just Nuisance was badly injured in a car accident and had to be discharged from the Royal Navy on 1 January 1944. He died in April that year and was buried at Klaver Camp with full military honours.