True story of the reindeer submariner

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THE fanciful Second World War tale of a Russian reindeer serving on board a Royal Navy submarine has been proved true.

Naval historians have long had their doubts about the story of Pollyanna patrolling the depths of the North Sea with the crew of HMS Trident.

But the discovery of a photograph hidden in an attic for nearly 60 years has finally established the truth about the reindeer’s naval career.

Historians at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire, were given the photo by a submariner’s family which shows the reindeer with Commander Geoffrey Sladen.

Jeff Tall, the museum director, said it is now clear the story was more than an apocryphal submariner’s tale, and began when the boat docked at Murmansk.

Mr Tall said: " Commander Sladen went to dinner with a Russian admiral, but communication was very difficult because of the language barrier. Sladen mentioned he had a young child at home and his wife had trouble pushing the pram. So the admiral decided that what he needed was a reindeer."

Because of operational duties, Pollyanna had to remain on board and was fed scraps from the galley. She was eventually rehoused at London Zoo.