Curator's Choice - Totem pole

Totem pole from HMS Totem
Totem pole from HMS Totem

This totem pole was the mascot of HMS Totem. It was made to replace the original which was stolen sometime in the 1950s whilst on a visit to Halifax, Canada. It was taken from the bridge of the submarine when it was alongside in HMC Dockyard.

Due to a series of events aboard the submarine, there was a legend amongst the crew that if the submarine went to sea without the totem pole disaster would ensue. HMC Dockyard therefore carved a new one before she sailed.

 The original totem pole
The original totem pole

The pole was carried on the front of the conning tower when entering and leaving harbour and would remain there whilst alongside.

HMS Totem was presented the original totem pole by the Cowichan tribe in 1945 when in her first commission. The presentation was made by the Imperial Daughters of the Empire (Junior Branch) of Victoria, British Columbia. The figures represented (in the original) are the thunderbird, the bear, the killer whale and the fire god.

In 1967 HMS Totem was transferred to the Israeli Navy and commissioned I.S. Dakar. On handing her over the totem pole was removed and it remained in England. She left Portsmouth for Israel via Gibraltar In January 1968. After leaving Gibraltar she was never seen again. The wreck was finally found in 1999 in the Eastern Mediterranean between Crete and Cyprus.