If you’ve ever watched a war movie and felt unfazed by the countless dead bodies due to the survival of one precious animal, this article is for you. In the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, after the chaos from the Japanese attack, one dog is seen amongst the wreckage, having survived unharmed. While in film this is used as a gimmick to distract audiences, it turns out it’s based in reality.
Unsinkable Sam was a cat aboard a German ship in World War II. Having cats aboard ships is something that’s been common for hundreds of years mainly due to their ability to catch rodents. He first served on the Bismarck during its first and only mission on 18 May 1941. After a sea battle on 27 May, the Bismarck was sunk and only 115 of the 2,200 crew members survived.
Sam was found floating on a board later- by the British. The British then employed him (and named him Oscar) on the HMS Cossack, until it was hit by a torpedo on 24 October and sank three days later. Though 159 people died from the torpedo, “Oscar” survived. He was officially named “Unsinkable Sam” and was transferred to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, which had played a role in the destruction of Bismarck.
Unfortunately, this ship also sank just days later on 14 November, once again due to torpedo. Sam survived again, and was described as “angry but quite unharmed.” The British decided to retire Sam to a seaman’s home in Belfast. There he lived for 14 more years. Who knows why… Sam still had at least 5 more ships before he was in real trouble no?