HMS MONTROSE’S former captain, Commander Jonathan Lett, was presented with a permanent reminder of the ship’s affiliated town when he relinquished command recently.
Commander Lett moved on to another post with the Ministry of Defence but his departure after three years of command left the crew wondering with what gift to present him to mark the occasion.
During one of his last duties Commander Lett visited Montrose with representatives from the crew and during the trip they were presented with a small statue of sea dog Bamse by the Montrose Heritage Trust which has subsequently taken pride of place in the ship’s wardroom, gracing the table when visitors dine on board.
Commander Lett’s interest in Bamse arose during Montrose’s six-month tour of duty in the South Atlantic earlier this year, when the ship called in to Simonstown naval base, near Cape Town. There the crew discovered the statue and the story of a very similar sea dog which served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War – a Great Dane called Just Nuisance.
The only dog to be officially enlisted in the service, Just Nuisance 1939-44 served at HMS Afrikander, a Royal Navy shore establishment in Simon’s Town, between 1939 and 1944 and when he died was buried with full military honours.
Struck by the similarities between the two dogs the crew was reminded of their ship’s affiliation to Montrose, and determined to find out more about Bamse on their next visit and contacted Montrose Heritage Trust.
Trust member Dr Andrew Orr said: “Members of the crew saw how their commander was entranced by the Bamse story and delighted with the statue, and decided that a statue would make an ideal leaving gift. In great secrecy a mini statue was purchased, mounted on a mahogany plinth with an engraved brass plaque and it was presented to him when he left the ship - to his surprise and delight.”