Museum sources

You will be sorry to hear my poor dog Bounce is dead. I am afraid he fell overboard in the night. He is a great loss to me. I have few comforts, but he was one, for he loved me. Everybody sorrows for him. He was wiser than [many] who hold their heads higher, and was grateful [to those] who were kind to him.
Admiral Lord Collingwood, 1809

Animals of all sorts were carried on ships well into the twentieth century when they were finally banned in the 1970s because of the fear of rabies. Dogs and cats were the most common pets but monkeys, parrots and in 1919 even a bear christened Trotsky (captured during the mission to support the White Russians) were also brought aboard. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, ships would also carry livestock as a source for fresh meat. Cattle, pigs, goats and poultry were carried on board. One Royal Naval ship sailed to the East Indies in 1746 with a goat, sheep, a sow in pig, six and half dozen hens and 13 ducks on board.

This guide lists sources in the Museum's collections relating to animals and the sea.

Printed books

  • Animals heroes: military mascots and pets by J J Kramer (pub Secker & Warburg 1982) 636.8
  • Just Nuisance, AB His full story by T Sisson (pub Flesch, Cape Town 1985) 636.7 (The story of a Great Dane who entered the Royal Navy in 1939)
  • A biographical tribute to the memory of Trim, Isle-de-France 1809 by Mathew Flinders (pub Halstead Press, Australia 1985) 636.8
  • (The cat that accompanied Mathew Flinders in his voyages)
  • Furred and Feathered Heroes of World War II by J Gilroy (pub 1946) 636.045:940.54
  • Of Dogs and Men Fifty Years in the Antarctic by K Walton and R Atkinson (pub Images 1996) 636.8
  • Ships' cats in war and peace by V Lewis (pub Nauticalia 2001) 636.8


  • Sea Heroes in Fur Coats, Nautical Magazine Vol 168 No 6, December 1952
  • Canine Shipwrecks, Nautical Magazine, Vol 206 No 5 November 1971
  • Was it black magic, Nautical Magazine, January 1972
  • (account of an incident concerning the ship's cat of HMS Faulknor during WWI)
  • Dogs at Sea, Nautical Magazine Vol 19, 1850.
  • Cats at Sea, The Listener 23rd June 1937
  • Trotsky, The bear on HMS Ajax 1920–22 (typescript - enquiries to Library)
  • Sailors' Pets in the Royal Navy in the Age of Sail by S Stark, American Neptune 51, (Spring 1991) 77-82.


Included in the archive of HMS Mercury, the naval signal school is a collection of annual reports on the Naval Pigeon Service, 1903–1908 Mss ref MER/


  • Silver dog collar of Lord Nelson's dog Nileus
  • Dog collar inscribed Rover Mr H Best RN ca.1840's (AAB02380)
  • Dog collar inscribed Floss HMS Shannon HMS Dreadnought 1920 (AAB0237)
  • Dog collar inscribed Michigan HMS Chester 1916 (AAB0236)
  • Goat collar with bell from HMS Orlando 1915 (AAB0239)
  • Gold necklace with silhouette of greyhound in oval frame. Given to Horatia Nelson by her father Lord Nelson in answer to her letter saying that he had promised her a dog. (JEW0369)
  • Cushion cover embroidered by a sailor after the battle of Jutland and portraying Hoskyn, the ship's cat. (TXT0129)
  • Horse transport, full hull model of raft for transporting horses. Crimea, 1850–55 (SLR 1797)
  • Ship model of a horse transport showing an animal being loaded, with rows of horses in stalls below decks, feeding arrangements, storage of foodstuffs, and bunks for grooms on deck (SLR0508)
  • SS Taurus, ship model of a livestock carrier showing cattle pens, 1866 (SLR0985)


The museum also has a large collection of images of animals at sea. Listed below is a selection. For further information please contact the Picture Library, on

Tel: +44 (0)20 8312 6704/6631/6600

Fax: +44 (0)20 8312 6533



Coloured pastels by Georgina Shaw Baker (1860–1951):

  • Peggy, bulldog mascot of HMS Iron Duke (no negative)
  • Judy, pointer, mascot of HMS Grasshopper (no negative)
  • Oscar, cat mascot of the Bismark (negative D3473)
  • Jimmy, cat mascot of HMS Renown (negative A2061)


  • Three collies lying on the deck of the Cutty Sark, 1869 (Negative number 7010)
  • Dog team with sled and handler, Shackleton's expedition of 1914 (Negative number P14)
  • Trotsky, the bear from HMS Ajax being hoisted from the deck of HMS Emperor of India in a Turkish port, 1921 (Negative number 23193)
  • Jacko, monkey mascot of the Union Castle steamer Garth Castle 1910, rigged out in suitable naval costume (Negative number C4505/4)
  • Bulldog, HMS Warspite 1913 (Negative number 20236)
  • Loading horses, 1886 (Negative number 58/6361)
  • Elephants towing launch. 1886 (Negative number 58/6328)
  • Kitten on shell tray of gun, 1913 (Negative number N22868)

Other relevant museum collections

Imperial War Museum

Lambeth Road

London SE1 6HZ

Te: +44 (0)20 7416 5000

Next steps

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Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this document, anyone using it shall be deemed to indemnify the National Maritime Museum from any and all injury or damage arising from such use.