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‘Fly my dad’s Jolly Roger one more time’

Gordon Brown with the Jolly Roger from HMS Tantalus (picture inset) which was given to his father Jack Brown (picture inset)  who was the youngest sailor onboard.


Picture: Steve Reid (123862-495)

Gordon Brown with the Jolly Roger from HMS Tantalus (picture inset) which was given to his father Jack Brown (picture inset) who was the youngest sailor onboard. Picture: Steve Reid (123862-495)

FLYING victoriously from the top of HMS Tantalus, this flag was last seen in Portsmouth Harbour 67 years ago at the end of the Second World War.

And the boat’s youngest submariner, a telegraphist called Jack Brown, was given the Jolly Roger at the end of its service.

But after his death the flag went missing and hasn’t been seen for more than 40 years – until now.

Jack’s son, Gordon Brown, from Gosport, found the flag in his sister’s attic in Scotland and now he wants to see the Jolly Roger flying again.

Mr Brown, 66, of Harbour Tower, said: ‘I was so pleased to have found it again, especially in such good condition.

‘I thought it had been lost. I’d been nagging my sister to look for it and then it turned up in her attic.

‘Someone offered me £1,000 for it but I will never sell it.

‘I just want to see it flying again and then I will give it to a museum perhaps.

‘It would be the first time the flag has flown in Gosport since 1945.’

Symbols on the flag tell the history of HMS Tantalus.

The four bars represent the torpedoing of four ships, while the two daggers denote the submarine’s two ‘cloak and dagger’ operations.

The eight stars in the top right 
corner surrounding crossed cannons represent the eight times the deck gun was fired.

Mr Brown’s father joined the submarine HMS Tantalus at the age of 18.

He moved to Gosport’s HMS Dolphin, the then home of the submarine service.

Mr Brown added: ‘He didn’t speak much about his service but he told us a few stories.

‘When my dad died he gave me the flag and a life jacket and his medals.

‘I was only young at the time and I believe I traded his medals for some marbles, which earned me a clip round the ear. I wish I hadn’t now but at least I’ve still got the flag.’

Gosport’s submarine museum in Haslar Road has a collection of Jolly Roger flags including the oldest surviving flag, from First World War submarine E54.

HMS Tantalus was a T-class submarine, laid down in Barrow-in-Furness in 1942. She was scrapped in 1950.

Click here for more details about HMS Tantalus

 

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