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Author Topic: The Submarine Jolly Roger  (Read 1134 times)

Offline Tug1970

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The Submarine Jolly Roger
« on: February 02, 2016, 05:07:40 PM »
The Submarine Jolly Roger


Hi,

Well I thought I'd post a thread I left on an Argentinian militaria forum as part of an explanation of an avatar I was using, lets just say there was a major sense of humour failure after somebody discovered exactly what the avatar was and I was immediately thrown off the site!  It wasn't intended to be disrespectful in any way but obviously it was taken seriously enough to give me the boot!  I did contact the forum administrator and explain why I had chosen the avatar and he was happy with the explanation ad reinstated me.

Basically being a Falklands War forum and me being an ex-Submariner I had chosen HMS Conqueror's Jolly Roger as my avatar, I thought nothing else of it but I was told it was highly disrespectful to the Argentinians and the families of servicemen lost.  I was quite surprised and although I didn't say anything I thought similar of them as some were using Falkland Island silhouettes coloured in with the Argentinian Flag, there were also some comments that you could take offense at if you wanted to go down that road but that is not my way.........so there are potentially many things that could be considered disrespectful depending what side of the fence you're sitting but anyway I apologized and changed the avatar then put together this thread explaining a little bit of the submarine tradition of flying a Jolly Roger.  Below is that thread......thought somebody might find it interesting!


Due to a recent misjudgement on my part I thought perhaps I could turn the experience into a thread that may be of interest. I will try to explain with the use of photographs and pictures the history and tradition of the Jolly Roger flown by Royal Navy Submarines after completing 'successful' missions controversial or otherwise. Please do not be offended by anything that may have been covered in this thread, I will include and explain the symbols sometimes seen on submarine Jolly Rogers including the one flown by HMS Conqueror. As mentioned please do not be offended, this is certainly not the intention and is purely for interests sake.

Jolly Roger is the traditional English name for the flags flown to identify a pirate ship about to attack during the early 18th century (i.e. the later part of the "Golden Age of Piracy").

The flag most commonly identified as the Jolly Roger today, the skull and crossbones symbol on a black flag, was used during the 1710s by a number of pirate captains including "Black Sam" Bellamy, Edward England, Edward Teach better known as Blackbeard and John Taylor and it went on to become the most commonly used pirate flag during the 1720s, it wasn't seen again until its use by Royal Navy Submarines during WWI.



Edward Teach, "Blackbeard," used a flag with this design. The devil skeleton is seen holding an hourglass, which shows the finality of life. The heart is pierced, with three drops of blood to the side.

Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Arthur Wilson VC (Tug), the Controller of the Royal Navy, summed up the opinion of many in the Admiralty when he said in 1901 “...treat all submarines as pirates in wartime...and hang all crews."



Admiral Wilson's Royal Navy was fresh from the exploits of Collingwood and Nelson. There was no room in it for a damned un-English weapon like a submarine. With his words in mind, Lieutenant Commander (later Admiral Sir) Max Kennedy Horton flew the first Jolly Roger in 1914, from HMS E9, on return to harbour after sinking the German cruiser SMS HELA and the destroyer S-116.



It was undoubtedly a result of Admiral Wilson's comment of 13 years previously and was probably intended as grim humour.

Initially, a new flag was flown (adding to any existing ones) each time the submarine returned from patrol, but this soon became unwieldy. A larger Jolly Roger was eventually made and symbols added representing E9's exploits. Other submarines soon adopted the practice but it didn't really become popular until World War Two. The tradition is still carried on to this day and is an emblem of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.

Specific symbols represented a different type of action/success conducted by each individual submarine. The image below shows various symbols that can be found on submarine Jolly Rogers and also a brief description of their meanings.



Various Jolly Rogers on display in the Royal Navy Submarine Museum at Gosport.



HMS Utmost crew displaying their Jolly Roger in 1942



HMS Thrasher in 1943



HMS Unseen displaying their rather impressive Jolly Roger in 1944



HMS Conqueror (nickname "Conks") was a Churchill-class nuclear-powered fleet submarine that served in the Royal Navy from 1971 to 1990. She was built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead (the only British nuclear fleet submarine not to be built at Barrow-in-Furness). She is the only nuclear-powered submarine known to have engaged an enemy ship with torpedoes, sinking the cruiser General Belgrano with two Mark 8 torpedoes during the 1982 Falklands War.



Below is the original Jolly Roger flown by HMS Conqueror, you will notice the bones have been replaced in this case with torpedoes. I will break down and explain perhaps some of the less obvious symbols, again there is offence intended by displaying this somewhat conversational Jolly Roger.



A clearer computer generated copy of the same.



HMS Conqueror carries an atomic symbol as it is the first Jolly Roger to be flown by a nuclear submarine.



The symbol below is quite obviously the ARA General Belgrano (Pennant number C-4). She was an Argentine Navy light cruiser in service from 1951 until 1982. Previously named USS Phoenix, she saw action in the Pacific theatre of World War II before being sold to Argentina. She was sunk during the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de Malvinas or Guerra del Atlántico Sur) by the Royal Navy submarine HMS Conqueror with the loss of 323 lives. Losses from General Belgrano totalled just over half of Argentine military deaths in the war.



Finally the Dagger for SF (Special Forces) opertions.



HMS Conqueror is now decommissioned since 1990 and awaiting disposal along with HMS Warspite and HMS Churchill. I believe Conqueror is the one dead boat with the fin intact.







More recently Royal Navy Submarines have flown the Jolly Roger after missions carried out during the Gulf War, Libya and Afghanistan.

HMS Turbulent returning from the Gulf War.



HMS Triumph after Libya operations.





I hope you have found this thread slightly interesting and just to finish off I thought you may appreciate a few shots of my ugly mug!! 















Finally, the reason why Wilson's in the RN are called 'Tug'

The nickname of 'Tug' reputedly comes from an incident when Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Arthur Wilson VC repeatedly ordered a battleship to try to come alongside, and in exasperation offered her captain a tug to assist. After this incident he was known as 'Tug Wilson', he was also known as 'Old 'Ard 'Art' for his refusal to consider the cares and comforts of officers and men.


Brgds,
Tug


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Offline Kohima

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2016, 05:25:02 PM »
Well done !



K
On the edge of a tennis court far, far from home, the Sgt. shouted: Son, pass me a grenade !  The Battle of Kohima. Naga Hills, 1944.

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Offline Rakkasan187

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2016, 05:43:43 PM »
Tug,

This is one of the best posts that I have seen on any of the forums I belong to. You are a fine gentleman and rest assured that you will not have to worry about censoring on this forum. We are the Free Speech and Opinion forum.. Your avatar means something special to you and rightly it should. It is disappointing that other's took offense. I remember the Falklands War and what it meant...

Glad to have you on here again

Smitty
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Offline Tug1970

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2016, 05:58:44 PM »
Thanks fellas, just something slightly different.  Yes caused a bit of a stir unintentionally I might add but what can you do........shut the door on the way out I guess!!  ;D

Tug
Money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

Spike Milligan

Offline RoyA

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2016, 06:07:27 PM »
I can't remember a thread I've enjoyed as much as this one in a long, long time.
Well done sir and thank you for your service!!!
Roy

Offline Tug1970

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2016, 08:38:52 PM »
I can't remember a thread I've enjoyed as much as this one in a long, long time.
Well done sir and thank you for your service!!!
Roy
Thanks Roy, I appreciate that. 
Money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

Spike Milligan

Offline Propwash

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2016, 08:58:13 PM »
Great thread, love those flags.  Really interesting that they still use the Jolly Roger.
Always on the lookout for USAAF flight gear and anything pertaining to the Aleutians Campaign.

Offline M1Ashooter

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2016, 09:38:15 PM »
Arrrgh Matey.. From one Pirate to another.  Here's my Jolly Roger of the 400th Bomb Squadron and the 400th Strategic Missile Squadron

Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2016, 12:27:39 AM »
Nice one Tug...very informative!
"He who dares, wins!"

Offline Jerry BB

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2016, 03:28:10 AM »
A very interesting thread Tug, thanks for showing it.

Here is the Jolly roger on display in the Lord Ashcroft gallery at IWM from when I last visited.

 [ You are not allowed to view attachments ]


Regards,

Jerry BB.

Offline Tug1970

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Re: The Submarine Jolly Roger
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2016, 04:18:10 AM »
Hi Jerry, yes that is HMS Turbulent's Jolly Roger which I think is a replica as she failed to return from active patrol on 23 March 1943. Turbs was commanded by Commander John Linton, one of the most successful Royal Navy submarines of the whole war. 

Commander Linton, and by reflection the crew of HMS Turbulent, were recognised with the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross

Thanks for adding to the thread, great stuff.......I might have to stitch one together myself!  ;D

Tug  ;)
Money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

Spike Milligan

 

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