Our Favourite Objects

This page is a monthly look at the favourite object of the curators at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. 

Previously chosen items can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

This months selection is:

2006 86 1  

The first known Royal Navy submarine flag

This is a small military silk that was produced by Geoffrey Phillips Ltd in 1915 to be given away in a cigarette packet. It shows a miniature version of an early submarine flag.

HMS Pactolus was a depot ship; a ship which acts as a base for submarines carrying fuel and food. Before there were crests, these ships would also fly the flag for a submarine. 

This is a small military silk that was produced by Geoffrey Phillips Ltd in 1915 to be given away in a cigarette packet.

It measures 5.3 x 7.2cm.

It shows a miniature version of an early submarine flag. HMS Pactolus was a depot ship; a ship which acts as a mother ship to submarines carrying fuel and food. Before there were crests, these ships would also fly the flag for a submarine. 

The first submarine flag flown by HMS Pactolus

This flag featured a coat of arms with white mice, torpedoes and a submarine. White mice travelled on the earliest submarines, including the Holland 1 (the first Royal Navy submarine, on display at the Museum) in the early 1900s.

They were even entered on the pay roll as part of the crew!

Mice are much more susceptible than men to the gases that could escape on submarines when dived and warned the crew by squeaking so that the submarine could surface.

3 white mice

Featured on the flag, but not the silk, is the motto, ‘qui sub mare in navibus descendent’, which translates as ‘who go down under the sea in ships’.

 

B-class submarines alongside HMS Forth depot ship

B class submarines alongside their depot ship, HMS Forth, circa 1910.

 

This object was chosen by Rebecca Drummond, Artefact Volunteer.