The Jolly Roger

You may be forgiven for thinking this post is about pirates such as Capt Kidd or Blackbeard. Well, perhaps in a way it is about pirates, but not the kind you think.
As the 19th century was coming to a close several nations were experimenting with the idea of a submarine. The British Admiralty did not see this as a viable weapon, and decided, instead of a submarine they should concentrate on an anti submarine weapon. However, in order to develop this weapon the Navy needed a submarine to test the weapon on. The Admiralty bought the rights from the USA to build the Holland design boat and gave the contract to Vickers ship builders. (A note of interest, John Holland was Irish and his basic hull design is still used today) The Vickers yards required they build three boats per year in order to make the venture profitable. In the meantime the Admiralty continued to ignore the submarine potential. Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Arthur Wilson VC. Controller of the Navy in 1901, stated “submarines are underhanded,unfair,and damned un-English. When the 1st World War started and German U-Boats enjoyed some early successes, Admiral Beresford said, “All submariners are pirates and if caught, should be hanged”. In response to his remark Lieutenant Commander, later Admiral Sir Max Horton flew the Jolly Roger on return from a successful patrol sinking the German Cruiser SMS Hela. In the 2nd World War flying the Jolly Roger became a tradition in the British submarine service when returning from successful patrols. The last RN submarine to fly the pirate flag was HM/SM Conqueror when she returned to Faslane, Scotland from the Falklands conflict where she sank the Argentinian Cruiser Belgrano.
Now you know the rest of the story!!!!
Cheers and keep reading.

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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