With my recent interest in the Falklands conflict, I picked up Mike Rossiter’s book ‘Sink the Belgrano‘ following the progress of the War and detailing the decisive action taken by the nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror. It was a very interesting read, the way it married the flow of the whole conflict with the submariners view and the major players in the staff higher up the chain of command.
Following my completion of the book, I had a hankering after some submarine eye candy. Luckily situated near Portsmouth there is the Submarine Museum of Gosport. I journeyed over there, and was able to dive into a world of underwater history. Numerous exhibits to peruse over, the first british submersible the Holland I, recovered on display – even hobble/crouch inside! You can also take a long walk through the HMS Alliance, dry berthed for public consumption. A thoroughly enjoyable tour through an actual submarine!
But the unexpected attraction for me was the discovery of parts of HMS Conqueror’s memorabilia in the historical part of the Museum.
Culminating in the actual Cabin of Commander Chris Wreford Brown taken from HMS Conqueror and re-assembled in the museum! You can sit in his cabin, take yourself back to 1982, and soak in the tension as he readies himself to be the first British submarine to fire live torpedoes upon a ship since World War II.
You can also see the Jolly Roger flag, the crew made, and then hoisted as they entered their home port. I’ve seen this flag in numerous photographs of the time, but there it was ‘in the flesh’ – I was very humbled. And the tacky ‘The Junta Hunta!’ T-shirt displayed next to it, exemplified the mood of the time.
Another real treat in store that buzzed me after I’d been swinging around on it, was the actual Periscope from the Conqueror! Its been relocated into the historical section of the museum, but it still works, and you can survey the whole of the museum grounds from deep inside the belly of the place. Gripping the handles, and imagining the eyes of the crew spotting the Belgrano for the first time, aiming and letting loose the Mark 8 torps, touching history really does humble you. The tragic loss of life on both sides counter balanced by the euphoria of epic naval might. It’s intoxicating, it really is!
I really enjoyed the exhibits they had on show there, and would encourage anyone with an interest in Naval history to visit the Submarine museum at Gosport. My visit was only enhanced several fold, with the discovery of the HMS Conqueror’s exhibits! Time to fire up Harpoon again, methinks.