Just Nuisance was the only dog ever to be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. He was a Great Dane who between 1939 and 1944 served at HMS Afrikander, a Royal Navy shore establishment in Simon’s Town, South Africa. He died in 1944 at the age of seven years and was buried with full military honours.

Although the exact date of Just Nuisance’s birth is not known, it is usually stated that he was born on 1 April 1937 in Rondebosch, a suburb of Cape Town. He was sold to Benjamin Chaney, who later moved to Simon’s Town to run the United Services Institute (USI). Just Nuisance quickly became popular with the patrons of the institute and in particular the ratings, who would feed him snacks and take him for walks. He began to follow them back to the naval base and dockyards, where he would lie on the decks of ships that were moored at the wharf. His preferred resting place was the top of the gangplank. Since he was a large dog even for a Great Dane (he was almost 2 metres tall when standing on his hind legs), he presented a sizeable obstacle for those trying to board or disembark and he became affectionately known as Nuisance.

Nuisance was at some point involved in a car accident. This caused thrombosis, which gradually paralysed him, so on 1 January 1944 he was discharged from the Navy. His condition continued to deteriorate, on 1 April 1944 he was taken to Simon’s Town Naval Hospital where, on the advice of the naval veterinary surgeon, he was euthanised. The next day he was taken to Klaver Camp, where his body was draped with a Royal Naval White Ensign and he was buried with full naval honours, including a gun salute and the playing of the Last Post. A simple granite headstone marks his grave, which is on the top of the hill at Klawer, at the former SA Navy Signal School. A statue was erected in Jubilee Square in Simon’s Town to commemorate his life.

The Simon’s Town Museum has an exhibition dedicated to his story and since 2000 there has been an annual parade of Great Danes from which a lookalike is selected.

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