Sid's N T I N S Locker

USS COBBLER's Excellent Adventures
in Palermo, Sicily
During the 1967 Med. Cruise of USS COBBLER SS-344
A six part NTINS by Roger "RamJet" Burleigh
As related on Submarine Forums during 
the period of late 1990s and early 2000s
Part 5:
The Final Salute! --- Monday
Part 1 -- Arrival ... Bat-a-Rat etc
Part 2 -- The Capture of Her Majesties Frigate - Saturday
Part 3 -- Pirate Attack --- Sunday
Part 4 -- A White Hat on the Jack Staff --- Sunday
Part 6 -- COBBLER Leaves Palermo Under Fire --- Monday
Recently there was a discussion on this board about the ceremony surrounding morning colors. If you have never seen flags raised on one of Her Majesties Ships, you have never experienced the pomp and circumstance the English adore.

However, this morning was to be an exception! NO one wanted to miss Colors THIS morning!  If you are reading this as someone who is unaware of the love the English have for ceremony, especially as it applies to Morning and Evening Colors when their proud flag is raised to meet the sun or struck at it's setting, let me set the stage for you. 

Aboard Her Majesties surface ships a musical band falls in on deck along with the Color Guard who meet about mid-ships with their respective flags. The Flag of Britain is flown aft and the Union Jack forward.

It is quite a sight compared to our little - "ta-doot-tee-doo", "Hand Salute", "Two"!

Most of you as submariners, know full well, however patriotic you may be, that unless we were directly involved in the flag raising, we stayed below during colors. 

Now I don't wish to give the impression here that we were not a patriotic crew, for that wouldn't be the truth. But, when Colors were normally held, members of the crew not required to be topsides made a point of not being there.  It wasn't a matter of patriotism but rather one of "been there, done that... about a thousand times!"

Well, that wasn't the case the next morning. All hands were on deck!! It was the most stirring out-pouring of patriotism I have ever witnessed. Guys were all over the deck, officers too. 

My white hat flew stiffly at the peak of the frigates jack-staff, still unnoticed.

As 0800 approached, two English sailors showed up in "full battle array" about mid-ships. 

Once the Color Guard has formed up each was presented with a flag. They turned, standing back to back and as drums rolled and the music began each man, with his respective flag folded on his chest under his crossed arms, marched off to his respective flag staff: one headed to the bow and the other towards the stern .

This morning nearly all-hands aboard the Cobbler were on deck (even the Old Man was on deck) to render honors to our own flag and also to watch the forward English Color Guard as he marched solemnly towards the bow until he reached the Jack Staff. 

Cobbler crew had "lined the rail" so to speak and watched.

When the fellow heading to the jack-staff, arrived on station with his flag clasped to his chest under his crossed arms, (I told you it was colorful pageantry), he stared at the cleat on the staff and realized that some twit had not left the little brass flag clips at the lower end of the mast as they were suppose to!

Normally he would have bent at the waist and untied the flag halyard to retrieve the two little brass clips which would have been left near the cleat when the flag was lowered the evening before. Today he just stood there for a prolonged period and stared at the cleat. There were no brass clips in evidence.

Slowly he raised his head and looked upward and when his eyes met the sight at the top of his mast a loud cheer resounded from the deck of the USS Cobbler.

I must admit, that at that time, it was without any doubt, my proudest moment!

Our English mate never varied from what he had to do. He untied the line at the cleat, lowered the offending white hat and untied it. Our white hat was unceremoniously removed from the clips. His flag, now fastened to the brass clips was raised with as much dignity as it's Guard could assume amid a continuously raised cheer from Cobbler's exhilarated crew. (All this was preparatory for colors, colors hadn't sounded yet!) 

Colors sounded and  everyone topside on Cobbler rendered a smart hand salute. Music from what seemed like half the nations on the face of the earth played and a sharp "TWO" signaled the completion of Morning Colors.

The white hat that had been flying from the jack staff of Her Majesties Frigate was in some English sailors vest pocket   ---   and the deck of the USS Cobbler SS-344 was alive with elated Submarine Sailors. 

Part 1 -- Arrival ... Bat-a-Rat etc
Part 2 -- The Capture of Her Majesties Frigate - Saturday
Part 3 -- Pirate Attack --- Sunday
Part 4 -- A White Hat on the Jack Staff --- Sunday
Part 6 -- COBBLER Leaves Palermo Under Fire --- Monday