Basil the Bush Baby.

RFA TidespringIn 1971 RFA Tidespring was operating in the Mediterranean in company with USN ships Surprise and Defiance.
At that time Tidespring had on board a Bush Baby called Basil. I have no idea were he came from or when he came on board. He lived in one of the Third Engineers wardrobes.



Basil with the 'DocHe was a jolly little soul and used to entertain us all with his antics and especially his daily performance on the bar counter where he seemed to consume quantities of best bitter. Towards the end of the deployment we were due to go home for refit and the question of Basil came up. We knew the UK Customs would not be sympathetic so it was decided to transfer him to another ship.USS Surprise was the one chosen and they welcomed him with open arms.

I have recently been in touch with Capt William T Schiffer who was the CO of Surprise at the time and he said that he took Basil home with the ship to the US and then to his home in Washington How he got past the US Customs I didn’t ask.When he was working at the Pentagon he left Basil at home with his wife and he caused mayhem by running all over the house.

It seems that Basil enjoyed a long and happy life only marred by the lack of CSB and the alternative diet of Budweiser.


Basil with his favourite tipple and reminding somebody it was time to sign a chit.

USS Surprise and USS Defiance

My thanks to George Mortimore for this amazing story…..have you a tale to tell like that? If you have email me at I would love to hear from you

PS. For the benefit of our younger readers CSB = “Courage Sparkling Bitter”, aka “Nerve Gas”, “Journey into Space” etc. We built an Empire on the likes of CSB, Cheesy/Hammie/Eggy and lost it on Muesli and camomile tea!!!