Reindeer In A WW2 Submarine

Grace Higgins | September 9th, 2020

One of the more unusual moments of World War II was when a British submarine transported around a reindeer it had been given by the Russians as a gift. In 1941, the crew of the HMS Trident was given a reindeer by the USSR navy. The reindeer then spent the next 6 weeks living with the crew, confined to a tiny living space.

Fully grown, the reindeer was nicknamed Pollyanna. As the reindeer was given to them by a Soviet naval admiral the crew did not want to refuse. At the time the HMS trident was fighting the Germans around the Arctic Circle. The Russians were so grateful at the time that the British were helping them, but they really had nothing to give.

The funny story goes that the British captain had mentioned his wife had trouble pushing a pram through the snow in England. So the Russian admiral immediately claimed that what he needed was a reindeer. And in typically, British fashion they didn’t want to appear rude so had to accept the gift. Of course, a live reindeer living underwater during wartime was no easy task. The barrel of moss the Russians had provided soon ran out. So Pollyanna lived off the scraps from the galley.

Unfortunately, the reindeer developed a strong taste for condensed milk which was a wartime favorite. The problem was, this made the reindeer gain way too much weight especially with the lack of movement. The reindeer was so fat when they got back to the UK, that it was a whole project to get the animal off the vessel.

Finally, with a dockside winch, they were able to squeeze Pollyanna out of the torpedo tube and onto dry land. She lived out the rest of the war in Regents Park Zoo, which is now called London Zoo. Legend has it that whenever she heard sirens or a loudspeaker, she would duck down as if she was still living on the submarine. Pollyanna died five years later, which kind of strangely was within a week of the HMS trident being decommissioned and scrapped.

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