Ministry of Defense Broad Arrow

broad arrowAll items belonging to the MOD (Ministry of Defense UK) are marked/stamped with the symbol “Broad Arrow”. The purpose is to prevent misuse, theft etc. The arrow symbol is shown at bottom of the photo to the right. Way back in 1961-62 the crews of submarines were issued with a heavy black (Sort of Oxford style) shoe, but with soft rubber soles. They prevented slipping on a wet casing and were quiet when walking through the boat during silent routine. Now, because they were a MOD issue the broad arrow appeared on the toe cap and pointed forward. Kinda like an indicator of which direction to move our feet. The leather had a pebble finish and was hard to polish, also easy to spot when being inspected before shore leave. They were not permitted to be worn ashore except in the dockyard and on base. Nevertheless, some very industrious individuals worked long and hard to polish out the pebbles and arrow.  This shoe story is just a lead up to a funny broad arrow story that actually took place in Portsmouth dockyard in 1960. Besides the story I’m about to tell you there must have been hundreds of similar things going on in the dockyards in those days.  There was a CPO on our boat who owned a tatty 1938 Hillman Minx convertible. The convertible top was torn and quite useless in rain, and in England it rains a lot. I’m not sure how the deal was struck but the CPO and a dockyard worker who just happened to work in the Sail makers loft reach an agreement. Duty Free cigarettes passed between them and a few weeks later the Hillman appeared with a beautiful new canvas top. The Chief was delighted when he first saw it from the boat as we were coming alongside. The old Hillman looked splendid standing at the dockside with its  spotlessly new canvas hood.  However, as the boat we drew closer to the dock he noticed the lovely new top was covered with small MOD broad arrows. It was a bit of a panic for him to get off the boat and lower the hood before the skipper or one of the officers noticed. Plus he could only drive out through the dockyard gates with the top down, even in pouring rain. All vehicles had to stop at the dockyard gates for a quick inspection, looking in the boot (Trunk) and such.  One very wet day the CPO stop at the gate and a yard policeman asked why the top was down in this dreadful weather. The Chief said it was exhilarating to drive in the fresh air and rain after living in a submarine for weeks on end. He got away with it that time, but started leaving the car outside the yard until he finally managed to sell it on. I never knew to whom he sold it but I hope in wasn’t another submariner??? but another sailor would be okay !!!                        The photo is not the actual car, but the same year and modelhillman minx contvertible God Bless 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.
This entry was posted in HM Submarines, HMS Cockade, hms ganges, military, The Royal Navy & Me, vehicles, veterans and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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