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Still clearing Uncle Albert's flat and only just starting to go through his boxes of 'treasures'. Today's find is a number of union flags including a couple of 'coffin toppers' as Dad used to call them as he would loan these to the British Legion for funerals etc.

Now Dad was a bit of a sod for climbing flag poles and nicking the flags when he was younger. Case International Tractors sent him one huge Union Flag from the States when he was caught climbing the flagpole on the roof of the Doncaster factory the day it it closed forever to 'rescue' the union flag for the Scout Troop.

Now one flag I've discovered is rather odd looking. It's around six foot long but only around five inches wide and tapers to a point. It's a white background with the red flag of St George on it. Any idea what it is and where he's nicked it from? It seems quite old, but of good quality materials...seems woolen woven complete with toggle for mast mounting. He can't have nicked it from a Royal Navy ship can he?

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That's the one Vaughan! 


Now to work out where he nicked it from...choices are
HMS Carrysfort
HMS Wotton
HMS Rothesay
Any submarine in Rosyth 
Thinking about it any ship going into Singers, Gib or any RN dockyard.

What I don't 'get' is Uncle Albert's penchant for climbing flagpoles, bearing in mind he did not like heights at all. Pointing the end gable of our house in Doncaster with my Granddad the pair of them were taking shots of whisky to 'fortify' themselves for the climb to the roof. After a few of these Dad was coming down the ladder 'navy fashion' gripping the outside of the ladder with his insole and hands and sliding down. Of course the inevitable happened and Granddad slipped from the roof. Grandad was a big bloke.
"Catch me Gordy!" he yelled to eight stone wet through Dad.
"Yeah right!" said Dad stepping to one side as 17 stone Grandad landed on the floor.

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He can't have nicked it from a Royal Navy ship can he?

Well that is the only place the scallywag would have found one of these.  As Vaughan states they are commissioning pennants, every RN Ship that is in commission, operational or not flies one of these.  You have to have one of these flying from the masthead to be able to fly the white ensign and Jack.  However they are a standard length according to the class of ship they are being flown from and are not very long.  So the longer it is, the bigger class of ship it was flown from (I have one stored in our shore side locker that I purloined from a patrol boat I served on)   The same flag but      m u c h   l o n g e r    is flown from the masthead during coming into home port for the last time before being permanently decommissioned.  The length of them varies according to how long the vessel has been in service.  Some of them are so large they are extend way past the stern and end up dragging in the oggin.  The  actual red cross part does not extend the full length of the flag.   Hope this helps


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The second flag that Griff mentions is the paying off pennant, flown when a ship leaves her station at the end of a commission, and when she returns to her home port (e.g. Devonport or Portsmouth).

Traditionally it is the length of the ship, after a normal 2 year posting, but longer if the posting has been extended. So if she has been on station for 2 years, two months, it is the length of the ship plus one twelfth.

The red cross represents the Banner of St George, which was the naval ensign up until 1606 when the Union Flag (of England and Scotland) was created.


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HMS Wooton paid off for the last time in 1983, I was on her, most of the crew transferred onto HMS Upton at Rosyth dockyard. Wooton was then laid up for a couple of years before going for scrap in belgium. Reason she was de commissioned was that the solid oak stem post was rotted through beyond economical repair, this led to her being referred to as the rotten wooton ! Cant remember though how long her paying off pennant was......



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Here we go, HMS Wotton some time in the 1960's. My Dad is second from the left. First from the left is his brother Bill. They both served on the Wotton together. The first brothers to be assigned to the same ship at the same time since the second world war. Don't know where they are though? I mean in the picture.?


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