Unsinkable Sam

On the 27th of May, 1941, the German battleship Bismarck was being chased by ships and planes in the Royal Navy. After it’s steering was disabled by a torpedo it became trapped and was sunk. The sinking ship left only 115 survivors of it’s 2,200 crew members.

The sinking HMS Ark Royal
The sinking HMS Ark Royal


But the sinking of the ship itself is not what this tale is about. In fact, the story does not even revolve around the crew members, but a cat that happened to be on board. A crew member of the HMS Cossack discovered the cat clinging to a wooden plank and pulled it aboard. Without any history behind the cat, the crew decided to name it Oscar and he became a friend to the crew. But this friendship didn’t last long.


October 27th, just six months after the sinking of the Bismarck, the HMS Cossack exploded due to previous torpedo damage. The explosion wrecked a third of the ship and killed 159 members of the crew, but Oscar was not among the casualties. Oscar, now with the moniker “Unsinkable Sam”, was brought aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (a helper in the destruction of the Bismarck).

However, just two and a half weeks later the ship was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine. It rolled over and sank off the coast of Gibraltar. This ship however only lost one crew member, and it was not Oscar.

The Bismarck
The Bismarck

Unsinkable Sam was discovered once again on floating wreckage and was brought aboard the HMS Lightning and then transferred to the HMS Legion. However the sinking of the HMS Ark Royal marked the end of Oscar’s life at sea and he was brought back to the United Kingdom to live in a seaman’s home.

The HMS Legion then sunk in 1942 and the Lighting sunk the very next year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *