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Reindeer Sails on WWII Submarine

A WWII legend of how a Russian reindeer sailed from the far north to Britain in a submarine had always been written off as one of those hoary old wartime tales.

The submarine Trident was among a fleet of submarines and supply ships that the British Navy sent to support the Soviet Union in June 1941. The submarines although sometimes called on to defend the merchant shipping carrying badly needed supplies to the red army were mainly patrolling the seas off the Norwegian coast in hunting for German supply ships.

The Trident was based at Polyarny near the Artic port at Murmansk and it was there that the reindeer made its appearance. On the submarines last night in port, Trident commander Sladen had a farewell dinner with a Soviet admiral how gave the CO a baby reindeer that was passed through the torpedo hatch in a grey bag. With the crew to busy moving out of port no one realised what was in the bag until the submarine was at sea. The reindeer quickly named Pollyanna after the port of Polyarny soon became the crew's pet, roaming the submarine at will and living in the Captains cabin.

Every evening when the klaxon would sound to signal that the submarine was surfacing, Pollyanna would rush from her cabin to stand under the hatch, eager for a breath of fresh air. The only person she would allow to get near to the hatch was the Captain.

Trident was not heading back to England, but was going first on a three week patrol and food had run out for the reindeer. The reindeer was the fed scraps and took a fancy to carnation milk. However a wild animal in the tight confines of a submarine during wartime was far from ideal. Pollyanna probably was about as happy at the smell of 55 submariners as they were happy with the smell of the reindeer.

When Trident arrived three weeks later in Blyth, Pollyanna had grown so much that she could not fit through the hatch. Fortunately there was a butch on board and they trussed her up and pulled her out of the hatch.

Pollyanna was presented to London Zoo. Pollyanna however was said to have never forgotten her youth under the seas.

Whenever she heard the clanging bell of a fire engine going past the Zoo she would lower her head as if ready to rush to the hatch. She died in 1946 only a few days after the Trident was decommissioned.


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