Just Nuisance & Naval Heritage

Simon’s Town has a rich naval history which stretches back more than two hundred years and is interwoven into the very fabric of the picturesque coastal town. Now home to the South African Navy, when previously under British rule Simon’s Town was the largest naval base on the entire African continent.

Exploring a little of this naval heritage is a must for any visitors to Simon’s Town. The continually expanding South African Naval Museum is open all year round, whilst in mid-March thousands of Capetonians and tourists alike flock to the naval base’s harbour for the annual Simon’s Town Navy Festival, with live navy bands, concerts and helicopter and plane stunt shows but a few of the attractions on offer. Entry is free.

But perhaps the most celebrated and loved part of Simon’s Town’s naval culture is to be found in the story of Just Nuisance, a Great Dane who was the only dog ever to be fully enlisted in the Royal Navy, ‘serving’ between 1939 and 1943.

Just Nuisance’s owner used to let him roam free around Simon’s Town and the dog was fond of spending time with the many sailors in the area, even catching the train to and from Cape Town with them. When the conductors threw him off, he would either wait for the next train and get on again, or go and try at the next station.

His antics eventually led to threats by rail officials to have him put down, so the naval authorities decided to enlist him in the navy; as a member of the armed forces, he was legally entitled to free rail travel. When enlisted his trade was stated as “Bonecrusher” and his religious affiliation as “Scrounger”, although this was later altered to the more charitable “Canine Divinity League (Anti-Vivisection)”.

Just Nuisance died in 1944 and was buried with full military honours. Today tourists can visit his grave amongst the jagged hills behind Simon’s Town. There is also a statue commemorating his life in Jubilee Square in the heart of the town, and the Simon’s Town Museum has an exhibition dedicated to his story.