An eight year old tabby cat from Wootten Bassett has today been awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross for his heroic work in Afghanistan.
Scratcher the cat was presented with his medal by his owner Gladys Francis in an emotional ceremony that unfortunately wasn't attended by any member of the Royal family.
Mrs Francis was a little upset by the absence considering the work Scratcher had done in his time out in the Helmand Province, but understands the Queen prefers dogs to cats so didn't really expect her presence.
'I woke up one morning and went downstairs to feed Scratcher but to my surprise he wasn't around,' said Mrs Francis, 'It's not the first time he hasn't been there but it was very unusual for him not to be. However, I started to get a little concerned when he didn't come for his food all day and by night time I was really worried. I went to bed waiting to hear the noise of the catflap but there was nothing, so the next morning I put together one of those missing cat posters and stuck it on a tree at the end of the road.'
'There was no sign of him for four days and not one person called me about him, then just as I was about to build a little shrine for him in the back garden he turned up. He was covered in dust and he seemed a little tired but it was only after his second bowl of Whiskers that he confessed to his wearabouts for the last few days.'
'He'd been on a secret mission, he told me. He boarded a plane with some soldiers and was flown out to Sangin where he left on foot across some treacherous terrain. He negotiated several minefields, single handedly defeated a Taliban stronghold and located the hiding place of Osama Bin Laden where he was taken prisoner. He managed to escape after tricking guards and headed back to the British army camp where he reported his findings then caught the next plane home.'
'He's a true hero. Much better than that labrador who apparently sniffed out a couple of bombs. Although if you read the newspapers you'd think that dog had single-handedly won the bloody war.'
'I've seen that dog round here and all it does is piss on lamposts and chase pigeons. My Scratcher does so much more for the community. He goes out killing small furry rodents, rare protected species of birds and sometimes even frogs. Not any frogs though. They're German frogs sent to this country to spy on us and relay information back to the Nazis. And those furry rodents are Russian. I've seen them on TV selling cheap car insurance. There's something not right about that I can tell you.'