Submariner reindeer on TV

Commander Geoffrey Sladen with Pollyanna the reindeer. Below, BBC One Show presenter Gyles Brandreth with Royal Navy Submarine Museum Archivist George Malcolmson

Commander Geoffrey Sladen with Pollyanna the reindeer. Below, BBC One Show presenter Gyles Brandreth with Royal Navy Submarine Museum Archivist George Malcolmson

Royal Navy reserves tuck into breakfast on Spinnaker Tower

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ALL submariners have tales of life at sea – but almost none have tails.

Reindeer Pollyanna – who spent six weeks on board a boat – was the exception to this rule and her story will be told on television tomorrow.

The BBC’s One Show presenter Gyles Brandreth learnt about her at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.

Archivists at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum uncovered the history of the reindeer, who was loaded on to HMS Trident in 1941 through a torpedo hatch.

She was gifted to the boat’s captain Commander Geoffrey Sladen and the crew by the Russians at Polyarnoe in Northern Russia.

Archivist George Malcolmson said: ‘Pollyanna spent six weeks with HMS Trident on patrol off Norway after rumours that elements of the German fleet were on the move.

‘Accounts show that Pollyanna became quite settled with life on the submarine and moved about easily.

‘She had taken up residence in the captain’s cabin next to his bunk and got used to the noises of the submarine.

‘She would be the first to trot into the control room to be ready for the main hatch to open and the fresh air to pour in. On diving she would go back to her resting area.’

Pollyanna was fed on a barrel of moss but when that ran out she was soon eating leftovers from officers’ mess, especially enjoying condensed milk – and a few navigation charts.

After six weeks Trident finished her patrol and arrived at Blyth Northumberland, where the now-fatter reindeer was hoisted out the main hatch

As reported, Pollyanna’s story was remembered at a Christmas grotto at the museum in 2009.

Mr Malcolmson added: ‘Trident survived the war.

‘But by a sad irony both perished within a week of each other five years later – Pollyanna in Regent’s Park Zoo and Trident in the breakers’ yard.

‘It was rumoured that she never forgot her submarine career for whenever she heard bells or a sound like a submarine tannoy she would lower her head as though preparing for diving stations.’

Pollyanna joined 50 of the crew on board the Trident class submarine.

Her story had been recorded in a book anecdotes by a crew member. This came to light in the 1980s and photographs were found in the archives. The segment will be broadcast tomorrow at 7pm.

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