'Jolly Roger' flag from submarine that sank Nazi ships goes on sale

Rare ‘Jolly Roger’ flag displayed on Royal Navy submarine that sank 16 German ships in the Mediterranean during WWII goes up for sale for £10,000

  • Rare ‘Jolly Roger’ flag displayed on Royal Navy submarine is on sale for £10,000 
  • HMS Unbroken hunted Nazi ships in the Mediterranean during World War Two
  • Each new victory was marked on the U-class submarine’s 43in by 45in flag 
  • The flag was taken from the submarine by Petty Officer Frederick Sharp
  • It has passed down the generations and is now being sold by his grandson

A rare ‘Jolly Roger’ flag displayed on a Royal Navy submarine which hunted Nazi ships is on sale for £10,000.

HMS Unbroken sank 14 German merchant boats and two warships in the Mediterranean during World War Two.

Each new victory was marked on the U-class submarine’s 43in by 45in flag, which carries the traditional skull and crossbones. Its stars and cannon represent four merchant vessels sunk with the deck gun, while the daggers signify ‘cloak and dagger operations’. 

White and red bars along the flag’s right-hand side refer to vanquished merchant and war ships.

The flag was taken from the submarine by Petty Officer Frederick Sharp who served on board HMS Unbroken. 

It has passed down the generations and is now being sold by his grandson with Duke’s Auctions, of Dorchester, Dorset.

Pictured: The rare ‘Jolly Roger’ flag going on sale for £10,000 on May 14

Pictured: The crew of HMS Unbroken posing for a photo with the flag

The flag had been tucked away in a loft of a Weymouth property so they would like it go on display in a museum.

It is being sold alongside previously unpublished photos of the submarine’s crew.

Julian Smith, specialist at Duke’s, said: ‘HMS Unbroken was a real thorn in the side of the enemy and they displayed the flag when returning to base to celebrate their victories.

‘It is extremely rare for a Jolly Roger flag to emerge for sale and it is a great piece of history.

‘The flag has come directly from the family who had it in a loft and they think its history should be appreciated, perhaps in a museum.’

The custom of Royal Navy submarines having their own Jolly Roger dates back to the First World War after a comment made by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson.

Pictured: HMS Unbroken, which hunted Nazi ships during World War Two

Its stars and cannon represent four merchant vessels sunk with the deck gun, while the daggers signify ‘cloak and dagger operations’. White and red bars along the flag’s right-hand side refer to vanquished merchant and war ships

He complained that submarine warfare was ‘underhanded, unfair, and damned un-English’ and that crews were pirates.

After that, submarine crews kept a Jolly Roger and updated them with different sewn-on emblems to mark their victories.

HMS Unbroken transported SOE officer Captain Peter Churchill and three colleagues to the Bay of Antibes in April 1941 to meet French resistance leader Francois d’Astier de La Vigerie.

As part of the 10th Flotilla, the vessel spent much of the war in the Mediterranean operating out of Malta, sabotaging the Italian war effort.

It badly damaged the Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo and the heavy cruiser Bolzano.

Unbroken was loaned to the Soviet Navy in June 1944 and returned in 1949. It was scraped a year later.

The sale takes place on May 14.

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