“Ship’s cat Freddy was shipwrecked in 1899, aboard the three-masted Liverpool sailing ship Hawksdale, voyaging from Hamburg to Melbourne with a cargo of 500 pianos. The 27-man crew included 17-year old apprentice sailor, Aubrey Chaplin, and his marmalade colored cat, Freddy. Freddy became a favorite aboard, following at Aubery’s heel as he paced the deck on watch, or curling up at at the foot of his hammock. in the English Channel, Hawksdale met rough weather and went off course, running aground on the Long Sands. Distress signals were sent and the RNLI launched their lifeboats to the rescue. The crews got as near as they dared to the wreck and instructed the stricken crew to jump overboard and swim for it. Aubery was outside awaiting his turn when he remembered that the cat was still below deck. Diving down the hatch, he found Freddy curled up asleep. Aubery shoved him into a sack and rushed back on deck. The lifeboat captain was furious, thinking the young sailor had risked lives by trying to retrieve personal possessions. When told that there was a cat in the bag, he let Aubery fling it onto the lifeboat. Freddy, struggling captive in his sack, was submerged in water that collected onto the deck. Aubery jumped into the lifeboat and lifted the sack onto his knees. The contents was now alarmingly still, but he clutched it grimly for four hours, not daring to find out if his pet was still alive, as the lifeboat struggled to safety at Clacton. 24 of the crew were saved, plus Freddy who, though cold and wet was soon revived by some warm milk laced with rum. Aubery was presented with a silver medal from the Dublin Home for Starving and Forsaken Cats, to recognise his “brave conduct in saving the life of a cat, at the risk of his own, in time of shipwreck”.
- Lifesize and extremely lifelike
- Approx Dimensions 28 cm long x 22 cm wide x 8 cm high