Nuisance" was the only dog ever to be officially enlisted in the Royal
Navy. He was a Great Dane who from 1939-44 served at HMS Afrikander, a Royal Navy shore establishment in Simon's Town, South Africa. He died in 1944 and was buried with full military honours.
He was enlisted on 25 August 1939: his surname was entered as "Nuisance" and rather than leaving the forename blank he was christened "Just". To allow him to receive rations and because of his longstanding unofficial service he was promoted from Ordinary Seaman to Able Seaman.
Ted Coleman observed his character and personality first hand while his ship, HMS Hecla, was under repair at Simonstown after hitting a mine:
"He was a very remarkable dog, his tactics in any pub
were those of a born scrounger, he would lie peacefully on his side
under a table until customers arrived. I saw him on several occasions
when some matelots walked in. He would casually role onto his front,
nonchalently wriggle from under the table, straighten his front legs,
then his hind ones, stretch all of them before padding slowly up to the
bar. There he would insinuate himself between the two lads and look
expectantly at first one and then the other,
finally concentrating on whichever one put his hand in his pocket! If
the men were regulars an extra pint would be forthcoming and
placed on the edge of the bar, Nuisance would put his forepaws on the
bar counter and, usually down the pint without stopping for breath.
After a polite thank you lick at the hand of the donor, he would either
resume his recumbent position and wait for another likely opportunity
or go to the door, open it, and make his way to the railway station.
Les Proctor, Ted Coleman's shipmate on HMS Hecla, also had a story to tell about Just Nuisance:
Simonstown base mascot was a large Great Dane officially enrolled in
the Royal Navy as Just Nuisance 1. He ranged over every ship and one
night came into our hut and ensconced himself in a bunk. When the owner
of the bunk arrived, very late and rather inebriated, Nuisance refused
to budge and the fellow had to sleep without comfort of a mattress."
Bob Campbell, Petty Officer Robert R Campbell Ship Writer, also got to know "Just Nuisance" and took the photograph of him on the deck of HMS Hecla with some of his shipmates (left) and wrote in pencil on the reverse:"On the deck in dry dock at Simonstown Able Seaman Nuisance, the only canine AB in the Navy. This bull mastiff [wrong, he was, of course, a Great Dane] was going to be destroyed because it was creating a nuisance in the trains between Simons Town and Cape Town. He had been a great friend of the sailors, very often he would lead drunken matelots back to their shps and he would do anything a matelot told him. Strictly a lower deck dog he only on very rare occasions condescended to associate with officers. When the Navy heard he was going to be done away with they raised such a howl."
Nuisance was involved in a car accident which caused
thrombosis which was gradually paralysing him, so on 1 January 1944 he
was discharged from the Navy. His condition continued to deteriorate,
on 1 April 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 with a
Royal Naval White Ensign and he was buried with full naval honours,
including a gun salute and the playing of the Last Post. A simple
granite headstone marks his grave which is on the top of the hill at
the former signals centre.
A statue was erected in Jubilee
Square in Simon's Town to commemorate his life. The 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 lookalike is selected.